App makers offer an incredibly diverse array of options to customize your Android phone, with launchers ranging from minimalist skins to those that put an explosive array of color on your smartphone. A good launcher can give your phone a total makeover, from changing the look and feel with different icons and themes, to adding new functionality such as smart folders and search assistants. With Android Oreo starting to roll out to phones and the Pixel launcher getting a new look with the Pixel 2, here's a closer look some of the best Android launchers on the market today.
Let's start with the default launcher, or at least the one that comes on your phone if you get one of Google's Pixel phones. Pixel Launcher is clean and fast. It also might remind you a little bit of iOS with the new round icon design and translucent menu bar at the bottom. It’s only for Google’s phones, though with a little trickery you can sideload the APK yourself and give it a try. (In fact, we've got instructions on how to do so for both the Galaxy S8 and LG G6.) Google is introducing a number of interface changes with the new Pixel 2 phones, such as a dock search bar, notification dots, and more, so the Pixel launcher is going to be among the first to see this new wave of features.
BlackBerry may be all but out of the hardware game, but it’s still making a big push into Android software. The BlackBerry Launcher is built to work with the BlackBerry Hub+, which which consolidates all of your emails, text messages, and other notifications into a centralized spot for quick access and response. Get the launcher and hub together to try them out, even if you don’t have a BlackBerry-branded phone.
You don’t have to have a phone built by Asus to get the look the company has developed for its handsets. The ZenUI launcher lets you go with a particular color theme and bundle up apps in the drawer by category if you want to keep things neat and tidy. The Manage Home screen puts phone customization and system settings within easy reach, and a quick swipe down brings up a search bar, frequently used apps, and contacts.
The original ADW Launcher was a ridiculously good and versatile launcher back in the day, though it eventually fell by the wayside as it languished without updates. Enter ADW Launcher 2, which brings the app back to the fore as a modern Android launcher. ADW Launcher 2 offers a wealth of features and customization options, such as a dynamically colored interface based on your wallpaper, an indexed app drawer, transitions, icon badges, app categorization and more. It also supports new Android features, including the app shortcuts found in Android 7.1.
Air Launcher combines a raft of themes, wallpapers, and a theme maker with a number of neat little usability features for a launcher that's a bit more than just a cosmetic makeover of Android. An Earphones Manager app automatically displays audio and video apps when you plug in earphones to your smartphone, an Auto Folder feature attempts to automatically sort your apps into category folders and gesture controls provide convenient shortcuts. That said, we might be seeing a little bloat working its way in, with new cosmetics like 3D wallpapers and transition effects also being accompanied by a speed booster, junk file cleaner, and battery saver.
Evie Launcher gives you a clean, minimalist setup that feels very similar to stock Android. There’s also a clever slide-out bar on the left side that gives you quick access to all of your apps. Universal search lets you just start typing an app's name to find whichever one you need. Live wallpaper support, a custom app dock, and other features let you tweak your home screen and app drawer to your heart's content. Evie continues to add and tweak new features, such as expanded language support, as well as app drawer and folder customizations.
Another good example of a launcher that sticks pretty close to Android's stock look, Solo Launcher embraces Google's Material Design aesthetic. Features include a universal search feature, several themes, wallpapers, gesture commands, icons, and the promise of a light footprint on your system resources.