A launcher generally heard in military or space parlance is a device or any structure that is used to provide an initial guidance cum support to a missile, a rocket, or a spacecraft. In simpler terms, a device to catapult an object into the surrounding atmosphere or space.
With the advent of Mobiles and smartphones came the Android mobile operating system, for their operations. This system could be customized as per the needs and requirements of its users. This functional customization ability of the Android user interface was known as Launcher. It was this Android Launcher ability which led to the hunt for the best android launcher Apps.
Using the Android launcher apps, you could change the home screen looks, from theme colors to font size, making everything a possibility to suit your tastes and improve working efficiency. It is for this reason that every android device has by default a launcher pre-installed in it. If, for example, you don’t like the way your home screens look, you can download an app to change it.
15 Best Android Launchers Apps of 2021
There are a number of launchers on the Play Store with a diverse set of features that can help you do innumerable things on your Android devices. To help save your time, effort, and energy to decide the best Andoird launchers apps, here are a few of the best amongst the lot I have tried to put together for your use as per details below:
1. Nova Launcher
Nova Launcher is one of the first and undoubtedly amongst the best Android launchers apps on the Google Play Store. It has been around since the good old days, longer than most of us have even used Android. It is beyond many of us to even comprehend its existence and can be believed to have been there since the time Android app launchers came into being.
It is a fast, efficient, and lightweight app with its developer team keeping it updated, removing bugs and errors, making it getting better and better with the addition of new features consistently. It has both free and premium versions. The premium version is at a cost and for more professional users. The free version is good enough with a lot of features.
Its customization features allow you to build a plain and beautiful home screen with color control options totally as per your choice that is unique, stable, and reliable just as you’d like it to look and feel. It lets your phone look more Pixely with complete ease and grace. Your home screen layouts can be stored in the back up while switching to a new device with greater ease.
The app’s gesture controls include gestures like swipe, pinch, double-tap, and more. It supports dock customization and has a customizable app drawer with new tabs or folders, backup and restore options, and an option to show frequently used apps as a top row in the app drawer.
Its features like icon pack support, layouts, and themes, hiding of never used apps and import of layouts from other launchers, custom actions for swiping on app shortcuts or folders, touch Wiz, facility to remove labels totally, notification badges, and much more has kept it alive and vibrant.
In its bid to continuously upgrade its features it has now introduced a dark theme feature as well. With this huge list of unparalleled features, an excellent back-up, and the pocket ace subgrid positioning this Android app has made its name and is the number one app launcher in the mobile industry.
With the huge list of pros, the only con that comes to mind is that it is an overwhelming app where theming can take a while to make the app more impactful as it is already bursting with a diversity of features anyone can think of.
2. Evie Launcher
This is a lightweight and one of the fastest android launcher considered for its simplicity and speed. It is easy to navigate and is available on the Google Play Store. Other than the Google Play Store it is also available on Bing and Duck Duck search engines.
It has a typical home screen layout offering a wide range of home screen shortcuts and customizations such as changing designs and wallpaper, change things like icon sizes, app icons, etc. The Evie layout can also be backed up to Google drive. With a universal search feature, you can search within the app from one place and swipe up for split-second access to all apps.
Among other customization options, it has a swipe down to “Open Notifications”. Its app sized personalized interface and the excellent gesture control feature using which you can open apps are some more of its features.
It has been recently updated with new features giving you the freedom to choose search engines; the ability to lock the home screen icons, and in its search feature, it can show more local results. The open notification feature is also a recent updation.
In a nutshell, the Evie launcher can be said to be the best free Android launcher in the market as of now. It is also for those who are a novice in the world of Android launchers, a very good platform to customize the software experience on their smartphones, for the first time.
The only drawback is that it is not actively being developed anymore, which means that it would not be getting fresh updates any further and also that there is no one to fix bugs if they arise.
3. Smart Launcher 5
This launcher is another fantastic lightweight and free Android launcher which has been on the scene since donkey years. It has maintained its presence as it has in its platter some out-of-the-box features on offer to its users.
You can customize the app as it provides fully customizable support and is filled with a whole lot of options one can think of. You can through innumerably unique ways alter the home screen as per your choice with millions of themes and icon packs available for your downloading.
Smart Launcher 5 with its app drawer feature is the real show-stealer. With its sidebar, the app drawer automatically divides the apps into various categories, sorting them accordingly in a neat manner, making things much simpler and promoting ease of use.
To add on to this feature in its pro or premium version, it gives you the flexibility to customize categories in your way as desired. It also gives you a variety of ways to sort your various drawer tabs like, for example, most-used apps or install time or on the basis of icon color.
Through its ultra-immersive mode, you can hide the navigation bar enabling more space on the screen. The ambient theme of the app, based on the wallpaper, alters the theme color. The app has limited gesture support in the free version. Still, on payment in the premium version, it unlocks a whole lot of top-class, excellent gestures especially the double-tap shortcuts for dock apps which are considered to be miles ahead of the swipe app shortcuts in Nova launcher.
Being a community-driven project, it keeps on regularly updating to keep abreast of the latest giving a benefiting, rich experience to its users. Smart launcher 5 also supports the latest Android Application program Interface and all the new devices. The ambient theme of the app alters the theme color based on the wallpaper.
This launcher has been developed in good taste with the user in mind, but the only drawback is that it supports ads in the free version in the app drawer, which is a major dislike as they are major attention diverters. Secondly, it does not allow icons at the top of the home screen, and thirdly the premium or pro version can be quite a lot confusing in the use of its features.
4. Microsoft Launcher
Microsoft, a name, well known to one and all, came out with its re-branded launcher app in mid-2017. This app, formerly known as “Arrow launcher” is free to download, lightweight, continuously updating, top-quality launcher for Android.
The app is conveniently at one’s disposal on the Google Play Store. Being a master software company it has elegantly, customizes the app to sync with your Microsoft account and Windows devices without any issues making it a lot easier for its users.
It has offered a built-in news window, integrates well with services like Skype, To-Do, Wunderlist, Outlook. It also offers an edge-to-edge widget ‘shelf’ along with subgrid positioning, app icon customization, to-do list, and Sticky Notes. It even The app lets Cortana read calendar updates, unread text messages, and a lot more.
This Android launcher allows direct access to documents with expandable dock options whereby you can get a personalized feed, see your search results, and much more. The Microsoft Timeline features help to upgrade the home screen just like “Google Cards”, and you can update new wallpapers daily from Bing.
This app launcher integrates with a digital assistant and other services like email and Microsoft PCs. Its team of highly active developers has evolved a smart page and a neat and clean home screen. The app is extremely fast and has the option to remove transition animation for speed enhancement.
Lastly, with so many positives to its name, the only visible weaknesses are its two-level expandable dock option which is slightly confusing and kooky. Secondly, after re-branding in 2017, its settings need to be refined to avoid the possibility of some bugs creeping in.
These drawbacks have resulted in the app falling from its highly proclaimed ‘A-rated’ alpha position to beta status. The development team is rebuilding the app so that the new version helps return it to its past glory.
5. Lawnchair Launcher
The Lawnchair launcher has been around for quite some time and is an open-source app, free to download from the Google play store. The best theme launcher for Android with 15MB software it is a very lightweight app. The best part of the app is that it is bereft of ads and in-app purchases, which are a mere cause of distractions and nothing more.
With the looks and feel of the Pixel Launcher, it is the only Pixel-like launcher that is the closest to the Google Pixel mimicking it in terms of its features. All users who are minimalists by nature would fancy this Android app and love to have it in their kitty. It is the right choice for the greenhorns as it offers the customary selection of easy to find customized widgets options.
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The app, as far as possible, with a focus on simplicity and speed, gets updated regularly by a team of volunteers managed by strong leadership. It has many customized notable features such as adjustable and variable icon and grid sizes, notification dot, automatic theming, edge-to-edge widgets, folder covers, and even categorized app drawers.
Other than the above features the app also supports a dark theme, Universal search, Android Oreo shortcuts, and several other customization features and is almost in close, neck-to-neck competition with the Pixel launcher.
The only stumbling block of this versatile app is that updating the app is time-consuming and takes a while, requiring patience. Secondly picking of colors of choice and set of categories is a bit labor-intensive requiring working on the app and thirdly this launcher does not allow you to exchange data with other launchers. You cannot receive any data from them.
6. Action Launcher
Action Launcher, also known as the Swiss Army launcher, was developed by a devoted and dedicated person by the name of Chris Lacy. It is another favorite Android launcher app which has been available for free to download from the Google Play Store for many years. Its extra features, add some uniqueness, helping it maintain its position amongst the list of favorites.
It is one of the most customizable Pixel launchers on the market, as of today, that makes its app drawer work incredibly well and quickly. With a Quick Theme color palette, you can get a mix of color themes that can be put together so that they fit well to make your app launcher screen look unique.
To make it better you can have material palette colors that give a better feeling of collectiveness, mixing color and material in such a fusion that would make an extremely good Wallpaper, standing out of the blue, refining the home screen in an attractive new dimension altogether.
In case you are not into self-designing your home screen the app also gives you the freedom to match your QuickTheme needs, providing access to already existing app layouts and the east-to-find widget shelf from launchers like HTC Sense, Google Now Launcher, Apex, Nova, Samsung/Galaxy TouchWiz, Shutters, and others. All this it provides without the provisions of any settings on the home screen.
Further, if you want your app launcher to be quick and working, you can also make use of the Quickdraw, Quick page, and Quickbar applications. The icon pack support, frequent updates, and gesture control options make your smartphone more configurable, making it feel more like Android Oreo.
The drawbacks of the app are limited, with its premium or paid-for version in spite of promoting itself strongly can get quite confusing if not handled properly. Secondly, in spite of having several theme options, it is not quite flexible as the Nova Launcher app.
7. Niagara Launcher
A new app launcher, it is available free of cost on the Google play store. Being quick and simple, it has bolstered a huge fan following amongst devices with small memory. It is an ad-free app launcher and therefore, does not clutter the Android space. Hence, it has made our list of best Android launchers of 2021.
Being lightning fast, with a stunning and minimalistic user interface, this launcher helps you to locate your favorite apps quickly. It enables this easy access to your apps in an A-Z alphabetical order from the top right of your device’s screen. It has excellent ergonomics and clean and sleek looks.
Due to an integrated message notification with a basic icon pack and music support, it has no app drawer, home screen, or widgets. It tests the user’s patience with its minimum available functions but makes a good option for those who hate showiness with many unneeded choices and app settings.
For the users who are looking out for thousands of optimizations, this may be quite a dampener. The app being still in a nascent stage there may be the occasional bug, which one has to take care of. With the limited layout and at times overlapping of gestures, it is not an app for professionals but can be used by amateurs to free their hands for future self updation.
8. Apex Launcher
The Apex app launcher available on the Google Play store has been on the scene for a long time. It has both the free and premium versions available on the internet. The premium version is available to the user at a cost.
Being a modern lightweight launcher it can be used on both smart-phones and tablets. This App for android users got a changed look in the year 2018, with the addition of some extra new customized features.
This app is studded with thousands of themes and icon packs which you won’t be able to get in many other launchers. This exemplary Android app launcher enables arranging of apps in the app drawer as per the title, installation date of the apps, and even based on how frequently these apps are used.
The app launcher enables the user to hide the unwanted apps which he does not need in the app drawer. In addition to this, the app, conveniences the user with the option to use up to nine convenient and customizable home screen gestures.
Its premium version includes notable features like dynamic drawer customizations, scrolling docks, unread count notifications, flexible icon gestures options, transition animations, theme options, enhanced folder support and much more making it a simply amazing app.
9. Hyperion Launcher
The Hyperion launcher is a lightweight app available on the Google play store and can be downloaded from there in both its free and premium versions. It fits itself very nicely between the Nova and Action launchers. This launcher can be very deceptive, as it shines in its ways as compared to the Nova and the Action launchers which are highly customizable.
In spite of being a new Android launcher on the play store, it has a very good user interface which is simple and easy to use with plenty of customized features. Without any overstatement, it surely will get a lot better with time as it is a very progressive launcher.
The list of its features includes Google search widgets in the form of third party icon support, adaptive cum supple icons, notification dots, app shortcuts, customized animations, gesture screen support, dock, and drawer interface, theming elements, icon shape changer, and many more.
The only setback as compared to other pros in the field is being a new Android launcher can be a home to bugs making it slightly unstable.
10. Poco Launcher
Poco launcher was designed in 2018 when Poco FI, a budget handset, was introduced into the smartphone market by its Chinese manufacturer’s Xiaomi who also invented K20 Pro & Redmi K20 handsets. A fairly basic launcher, it is available free of cost for Android users on the Google Play Store.
This light and smooth app operate with an emphasis on efficiency and simplicity. It is for people of all categories who use low end not too expensive devices or those with costly high-end devices but want a simple launcher as their default launcher.
This launcher by default comes with 9 app categories with an option to delete them or even add your own. This can be done by only going to settings and then to manage the app categories. Since your own self manages all these app categories, so it becomes easy to find the apps when needed.
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Its User Interface facilitates a customized home screen grid and the app drawer background, supporting third-party icons enabling the download of Icon Packs straight from the Play Store.
With its privacy option, you can at no cost, hide icons from the app drawer directly without using any third-party software and by swiping right twice in the App drawer, those hidden apps can be recovered. This privacy option also protects your hidden icons, using a certain pattern, so no one else can view them.
The Poco launcher enables a dark mode on your mobile, saving your battery life, and can be switched on by going to settings, then to the background and selecting the dark theme, and applying it. It also allows you to change to numerical notifications from circular notification badges giving you the flexibility to know the exact number of notifications received by you.
The app with an in-built transition mode also enables you to switch between two screens. With so many tricks under its belt, it is one of the best launchers available in the market as of today and can be a good recommendation to those who look for a good Android experience.
11. Blackberry launcher
Blackberry devices having lost their sheen have slowly and steadily faded away from the market, but it is free of cost launcher is available on the Google play store for those who still have a penchant for it, as it still holds some interesting innovations for its users.
Blackberries, single-click option, for multi-step actions like calling a friend or sending an e-mail still holds it in its stead, making it live to its reputation of the bygone era. Its pop-up widgets enable you to organize and view any apps, widgets, and shortcuts by a simple up or down swipe across the icon on the home screen without taking up much space.
The app includes shortcuts for speed dial, Google map directions, drive scan, and much more. It saves battery and data usage with Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, and wireless network shortcuts.
On a device other than the BlackBerry device, you can continue to use this app with all its functions free of cost, but after 30 days periods, it allows the use of its functions with ad insertions. To avoid the ads, you can subscribe to the app every month on a payment basis. The subscription gives you the complete freedom to all its Hub+ apps like calendar, contacts, inbox, notes, tasks, etc.
The only hold back on this BlackBerry Launcher is that it is just too expensive to recommend and secondly it hasn’t seen any updates for quite some-time now. Most business users, due to these drawbacks prefer and find the free Microsoft launcher a better option. In spite of all this, those with a heavy email workload on their smartphones, still like this app due to its hub.
12. Google Now launcher
Google a well-known service provider and used by a majority of internet users, has offered its in-house product, Google, Now launcher for its customers so that they get everything from a single source without running helter-skelter in search for good launchers. As we all know the capabilities of the tech giant Google, we can rest assured of the excellence of its launcher too.
This app helps the user to integrate a number of Google services onto his device simply by swiping right on the home screen. As a big positive, the user can manage the Google Now cards with ease of accessibility, and the Google search bar design can be contrived from the home screen itself.
This launcher is free to download for Android users from the Google Play Store. Another big advantage of this launcher is you can access the ‘always on’ Google voice search. You can speak into your Google launcher and say “OK Google” and give a voice command when your device is unlocked, and you are on your home screen, for it to perform as per your command. It saves a lot of time as compared to writing a command for it to execute it.
The app takes care of your app drawer with efficiency to help in fast scrolling to enable a quick searching of the apps and access to wallpaper, widgets, and setups. The only negative aspect of the app’s functionality is that it does not allow too much customization as other launchers do.
13. ADW Launcher 2
The Android app is available free to download for its users on the Google Play Store. This app a successor to ADW launcher is an excellent app just like its predecessor ADW launcher, which was also a remarkable app. It has a number of features on offer with a claim of its developers that it gives you unlimited freedom and possibility to configure the app as you like it.
It has an exceptional User Interface with a unique capability of dynamic coloring to change the color of the interface according to the wallpaper colors. With hundreds of customizable options, the ADW launcher 2 is easy to use, fast, and a stable app.
Another application which is a great highlighter and a tailor-made feature of this app, being an excellent add-on is the make-your-own- widget feature which allows total freedom to make and modify your widgets with your colors.
What more, it also has on offer icon badges and icon effects section, app indexing and fast scrolling on app drawers support launcher shortcuts for Android 10, transition animations, gesture management, and a host of other useful features and that also without your asking. You get everything served on a platter, what more can you ask for.
Last but not least, if you are thinking of having a default app launcher, there is nothing better to ask for than this stock Android app.
14. BaldPhone Launcher
This launcher is a goodwill launcher for the elderly who suffer from dyspraxia which is a problem of cognitive skills and motor learning difficulties like vision, judgment, memory, coordination, movement, etc. i.e. the elderly suffering from DCD, i.e. developmental coordination disorder.
It is an open-source launcher that has bigger icons and necessary functions right on the home screen which the users can appropriate to his needs and personal requirements and tailor-make the home screen to meet his convenience and comfort to enable him to get the most benefits.
The good thing about this Android launcher is that there are no ads, but the only exception is that the app asks for a lot of permissions, to ensure that the users’ data remains intact and there is no harm to it. This launcher app is only available on the F-Droid store, unlike other Android apps that can be downloaded from the Google play store.
15. Apple iOS 13 Launcher
This Android launcher is free to download the app. its announcement was made by the company at the Worldwide Developers Conference in June 2019 and was subsequently released in Sept. 2019. The app gives you the iPhone experience on your Android phone, which seemingly is quite obvious from its name.
This app not only allows the use of its proprietary icons but the long pressing of an icon brings up iOS menu like options to re-arrange and remove an app. The launcher also gives you the iPhone’s home screen like the widget section and improvement in performance during navigation.
It also extends battery life by limiting the battery charging to 80% of its full capacity instead of the complete charge and discharge, reducing the strain on the battery.
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As a user of this app, after the download of respective apps from the developer, you also get the iOS control panel and assistive touch. Its new file format has improved the iOS launchers’ performance, making the app launch twice as fast. It has also made app downloads approx. 50% smaller and updates as much as 60% smaller. Its Face ID unlocks the phone by 30% faster as compared to its previous version.
Though this launcher brings the iPhone experience to the Android phone the major drawback of this app is that it is filled with inescapable ads that hamper improvements by way of fine adjustments in its settings.
There are some more Android launcher apps like AIO launcher, Apus launcher, Lightning launcher, and Go launcher, etc. but we have already covered the best of Android launchers in 2021. I am sure this discussion will help you to use these Android launchers to improve your device’s looks and performance. The best Android launcher for you will depend on what kind of improvements you are seeking on your smartphone or tablet.