One of the most liked things about Android is the ability to customize each and every part of it. And, one of the most customized things is the Android Launcher. Some people the stock Android launcher, while some prefer the skinned launchers provided with UIs such as Sense, TouchWiz, TimeScape, MIUI, etc. But it depends on an individual’s preference as to which launcher they shall use. Now, there are many launchers available at the Play Store that serve as a replacement for the stock or company-provided launchers available in phones. These include Nova Launcher, Go Launcher, etc. These launchers provide a deeper level of customizability while giving the stock-ish launcher theme at the same time. The themes can be changed according to personal taste, though. I decided to give Action Launcher Pro a go.
Action Launcher looks and feels like a natural launching pad for the Android ecosystem, and is designed to get you where you need to go, faster.
Standout features include:
* A sliding quickdrawer for instant access to all your apps and widgets.
* ‘Covers’, an innovative new way to quickly launch apps and shortcuts without compromising the look of your carefully crafted homescreen.
* ‘Shutters’, a unique feature that unlocks the power and potential of Android widgets. Swipe an app icon, and that app’s widget is automatically created.
* Quicksearch, a fast and powerful feature that allows you to search for apps, contacts and even music directly from the action bar.
* Android’s unique and powerful action bar is fully integrated into your desktop.
* Full tablet support (including the Nexus 10).
* Icon pack support.
* Desktop layouts can be backed up and restored to and from an SD card.
* All of the settings you expect from custom launcher: specify apps to hide, adjustable number of home screen pages, grid sizes, page margins, dock toggles, scaling icons, lock desktop, resize any widget, etc.
* Strong Play Store integration.
Action Launcher allows you to import from existing launcher layout from other launchers such as Apex, Nova, Sense, TouchWiz and the stock Android launcher, so you’ll instantly feel right at home.
* CALL_PHONE: Required so that any Direct Dial shortcuts you create can initiate a phone call.
* READ_CONTACTS: Used to instantly filter your contacts via the integrated quicksearch.
* READ_EXTERNAL_STORAGE/WRITE_EXTERNAL_STORAGE: For backing exporting and restoring to and from an SD card.
Action Launcher never transfers your personal data off your device.
In my opinion, Action Launcher Pro stands out from other launchers because of it’s non-conventional App Drawer style. On other launchers, you tap the App Drawer icon to get a list of all your apps. In Action Launcher Pro, things don’t work that way. You swipe from the left to get a list of all your apps. It’s not the conventional 4×4 or nxn-style App Drawer. You get a list of all your apps and the list scrolls down vertically. There are tabs for Apps and Widgets which can be selected by swiping left or right depending on which tab you are viewing at the moment. Tabs can also be accessed by tapping the “Widgets” or “Apps” at the top. If you want to jump to an app or a widget which might be at the bottom end or somewhere in the middle of your list, you can also tap and slide on the alphabet list on the right of the App Drawer.
Another way to access your apps if from the Action Bar which sits at the top of your homescreen and provides buttons for Search, Play Store and accessing the App Drawer. You can also customize it in such a way that it only appears when you touch an empty part of the homescreen and disappears when you do the same.
Now, if you’re satisfied with the way your homescreen looks and you don’t want accidental changes to it, you can lock the homescreen from the options menu on the homescreen which will prevent any more app shortcuts or widgets to be added to your homescreen.
You’ll need to unlock the homescreen (desktop) before you can make changes to the homescreen.
Many of us make folders to group certain apps. For example, I have Yahoo Mail and Gmail apps on my device. I don’t access Gmail much because all my primary emails are received in my Yahoo Mail account. So, I have a folder which houses both the apps. But 80% of the time, I access only Yahoo Mail from that folder. So, I group my apps in a folder and convert the folder into what Action Launcher calls cover. A cover is basically a folder which lets you access a single app quickly. Now, tapping my Mail folder will launch Yahoo Mail by default. In case I need to access the complete folder, I can do it by swiping vertically on the folder.
Apps like Google and Music also have widgets assigned to them which can also be accessed by swiping horizontally on the app. For example, the Google app shows the search bar while the Music app shows the music control buttons. The widgets can also be changed just in case you have downloaded some other widgets from the Play Store or developed some yourself.
The settings of the launcher are also simple and straightforward. You can access them from the options menu on the homescreen and selecting “Settings”.
Within the Display menu, you get options to change the homescreen Grid dimensions which decides how many apps you can have on your homescreen. There’s also an Icon scale which changes the size of the icons. Enabling the Show text labels shows you the names of the apps below their respective icons. You can also change the number of homescreens and which one of them is your default one. You can enable/disable the Dock which appears at the bottom of the hoemscreen and you can decide how many apps the dock can contain. The Dock separator enables you to display a line that acts as a border between the docs and the other homescreen icons. You can change the Icon packs and the margins of the homescreen. You can also enable Shutters (aka cover widgets) which we talked about previously. You can also enable Wallpaper scrolling.
In this menu, you can select apps which are hidden from the App Drawer. You can also select whether to display the Apps and Widgets tabs and change the Background of the App Drawer.
You can customize how a cover opens. You have the option of selecting vertical swipe or a double tap or both. When you enable the double tap gesture, apps within covers take time to open because the launcher waits for the time decided for double tapping to get over before launching the default app. The double-tap time can be changed. You can choose what the Search bar in the Action Bar does. Also, you can enable the launch of the App Drawer by pressing the home button. The another nice option that caught my eye is that you can access the Notification Bar by swiping down at an empty part of the homescreen and access the recent apps list by swiping up at an empty part of the homescreen. This might come handy for people which huge displays.
Backup and import:
This menu does just what the name says. You have the option to backup and restore your preferences and also import preferences from an existing launcher. The import feature did not work with my company-provided launcher, though. You can select where the backup files are stored.
This is the experimental zone of the app. You can enable Landscape Mode, Alternate Widget Size and Show Notification Bar from this menu.
There is the Help menu which has a couple of things like Tutorial, What’s New, Send Feedback, Credits, Open Source Licenses, Donate and an option to restart the launcher in case something went wrong.
The version number is displayed at the bottom.
Action Launcher Pro retails for $3.99 or INR 225.0 at the Play Store and in my opinion, the price is justified.
I’d suggest you give Action Launcher Pro a go if you’re looking for a really nice and different launcher. Or, you can try it out on a friend’s device who has the launcher before spending $3.99.
Do leave your comments down below if you’re using Action Launcher Pro and know something I haven’t covered in the review. We’ll update the review and mention your name with it. Share this post with your friends to let them know about Action Launcher Pro.