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Redesign Your Android.

Summary: Launchers let you customise your smartphone's UI, or user interface, just the way you want it.

There are those who avoid buying a phone because they think the interface is too complicated or not to their taste. But, this is not an issue with Android phones.

While most Android manufacturers have their own user interfaces, you can also choose one of many available in the Google Play Store. After all, customisability is the beauty of Google's operating system.

Third-party Android launchers can help you choose an interface or 'skin' that caters to your needs, be it to improve efficiency, simplify the interface or make your phone look more stylish. Custom skins from popular manufacturers, such as Samsung's TouchWiz and HTC's Sense UIs, are also available for all Android users. You can even choose a rival operating system's skin, meaning Apple's interface for iOS (use Espier Launcher) or Windows' Metro UI.

Most of these are not heavy apps that use a lot of your resources. Here are some launchers that let your Android look the way you want it to.

1. Nova Launcher

WITH AN INTERFACE very similar to stock Android UI, Nova is one of the most popular third-party launchers around. This highly customisable launcher is not resource hungry and does not slow down the phone. There is a toggle notification bar that can be hidden with a simple touch. It shows previews of all homescreens and notification can be expanded without dragging the bar from the top. Plus, there is a toggle dock to remove the default icons at the bottom of the screen. Widgets can be added to the homescreen and resized. You can backup settings in case you want to restore it. The paid version, costing Rs 246, gives access to gestures, folders in app drawer and unlimited custom tabs.

2. Buzz Launcher

THIS LAUNCHER is different for it lets you download multiple homescreens. A 'b' icon takes users to the Homepack for more homescreens whereas the other dotted icon opens a line of shortcuts including app launcher, customised wallpapers, all screens, content/uploads, Buzz settings and system settings. The launcher supports gestures too. For instance, a two-finger swipe down toggles the notification bar, while a regular two-finger swipe allows a quick screen jump. The best part is that you can edit almost all elements.

3. Apex

SIMILAR TO Nova, Apex is a plain vanilla launcher with customisation limited mostly to the widgets. Under homescreen settings, you can choose the layout of the portrait and landscape grid, margins and icon size. In drawer settings we get access to hide app icons from the app drawer along with layout customisation. There is a behaviour setting that lets you choose the actions for home key, pinch in, swipe down, desktop double tap and desktop long press. You can also set vibrate time. Apex menu gives instant access to wallpapers, theme settings and managers.

4. Aviate

THIS HOMESCREEN is open only on invite at the moment. It is expected to open up once it moves beyond the Alpha version. Here widgets are placed above a row of favourite apps (Gmail, Phone, SMS, e.g.) and below is a built-in date/time/weather drop-down. There is a concept called 'spaces' where swiping to the side reveals a list that lets you move between contexts like 'Work', 'Nearby Places', 'Going Somewhere' and 'Settings', as well as the default space which is based on the time of day.

5. Launcher 8

THOSE WHO ARE fascinated by the Windows Phone 8 user interface should consider installing Launcher 8. It brings in two homescreens- the first one with tiles and the second comprises the list of all apps. Interestingly, basic features such as resizing apps and pinning is also available.

6. Go launcher EX

THIS IS A UTILITY-DRIVEN launcher that offers customisation of the homescreen as well as regular and Go widgets. Apps can be segregated into different folders in the app tray. The settings have three tabs for all, recent and running-the last lets you know which apps are consuming your device's resources.

HOW TO INSTALL A LAUNCHER

CHANGING THE UI WITH a launcher is like installing any other app. After launching, it will change the homescreen and allow you to customise it according to your needs. The next time you press the home key, the phone will ask you to choose a launcher-the default one or the one you have installed. To make the launcher the default, check the 'always' option and not the 'just once' option.

Courtesy: Gadgets & Gizmos

Reproduced From Money Today. Copyright December 2013. LMIL. All rights reserved.

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Publication:Money Today (New Delhi, India)
Date:Dec 1, 2013
Words:785
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