Hands-On With Action Launcher, The Newest Homescreen Replacement for Android

Sections: Features, Smartphones, Software / Applications

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Have you ever heard of Tweet Lanes? If you haven’t, you missed out on one of the finest Android Twitter applications ever created. You see, Tweet Lanes was in active development for a good while before Twitter’s API changes caused its developer to shelve the project indefinitely. Now, developer Chris Lacy is back with a new app called Action Launcher. Action Launcher is a homescreen replacement that can easily be mistaken for native Android functionality. Instead of focusing on skins and themes, Lacy has taken the same very simplistic, yet highly functional approach he did with Tweet Lanes. You can purchase Action Launcher from Google Play for $3.99. Lacy was kind enough to provide GadgeTell with preview code for Action Launcher, and I want to share some of my first impressions with you.

The first thing you’ll notice about Action Launcher is how clean it is. The picture to the right is what Action Launcher looks like running on a Nexus 7. The only major difference between the stock Android 4.1 Jelly Bean launcher and Action Launcher at a glance are the icons that populate the top of the screen. Lacy moved the app drawer icon from the bottom of the screen to the top left. This change does two things. It frees up a space to place another app shortcut, and it allows you to access your app menu by swiping from the left side of the screen.

This is what the app drawer looks like. It lists every app on your device in alphabetical order. You can either scroll through the list to find it, or tap on the corresponding letter to immediately jump to your app’s approximate location. Lacy said his intention with this app drawer was to “allow you to load any app within one second, whether there’s a shortcut for that app on your homescreen or not.”

Another new feature is an enhancement to standard Android folders called “covers.” Covers are formed just like folders. You select which apps you want to group together, and drag them into each other. However, there is a menu option within these folders that allows you to set a cover. When you make a cover, the first app that’s inside the folder will launch immediately with one tap. If you double tap the cover, it’ll show the contents of the entire folder. This effectively eliminates an extra step in launching a single app from a folder.

Those are the main features of Action Launcher, but there are other customization options as well. You can choose to have up to seven homescreens, make the action bar invisible, and access apps, widgets and wallpapers from a single menu.

I must say, Action Launcher feels less like a homescreen replacement and more like a natural extension of stock Android. It’s going to be exciting to see what future updates will bring.

Google Play Link [Action Launcher]

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