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How To Install an Android Launcher and Customize Your UI

Whether your phone is made of unibody aluminum or cheap plastic, you'll care a lot more about what appears on-screen that the chassis around it. If you don't like the look of your icons, app drawer and desktop or you find that they're sluggish, a third party app launcher can give your smartphone a whole new interface. There are at least half a dozen popular app launchers with names such as Lightning Launcher, Go Launcher Ex and Apex, each of which provides a bevy of customization options that let you control everything from how screen transitions animate to whether the notification bar is hidden or visible.

There are also dozens of themes for each launcher that contain their own icon sets, wallpapers and other visual elements. Even better, some of these launchers are even faster than the one that came with your phone, making your trips to the home screen that much snappier.

To set up a third party app launcher:

  1. Download and install your launcher from Google Play.

If you want to switch launchers, you can either uninstall the current one or navigate to the apps menu in settings, select the current launcher and tap Clear Defaults. Android will prompt you to choose a new launcher next time you tap home.

Follow Avram Piltch @Geekinchief and on Google+.  Follow us @TomsGuide, on Facebook and on Google+.

Avram Piltch is Tom's Hardware's editor-in-chief. When he's not playing with the latest gadgets at work or putting on VR helmets at trade shows, you'll find him rooting his phone, taking apart his PC or coding plugins. With his technical knowledge and passion for testing, Avram developed many real-world benchmarks, including our laptop battery test.