What is the launcher on Android?

  • How to change the default launcher of your Android terminal
  • The 11 best launchers for your Android: customize it to your liking and make it unique

Probably the most important feature of Android as an operating system is its ability to be personalized, thanks to the fact that it is an open platform for developers. For this reason, there is an immensity of applications created and designed to personalize our Android terminals to the smallest detail.

Among all of them, there are several types of utilities that we can use to modify the appearance of the software: wallpapers – including animated backgrounds -, widgets, icon packs, and launchers.

In this guide, precisely, we will talk about this last category, because after all, launchers are the type of customization apps that can most change the appearance of our devices and in the fastest and easiest way.

What is a launcher?

The word Launcher comes from English and means launcher; in Android, this type of application was named this way because they are assigned to launch all the applications installed on our devices. In addition to this function, launchers are generally defined by containing the application drawer and the different home panels to add icons and widgets. Thus, with these applications, we can modify and personalize the vast majority of the visible aspects of the home screen of our devices.

The vast majority of manufacturers also integrate their own launchers into the software of their phones, which are part of the customization layer of each company. These launchers, in general, provide unique customization that differentiates them from other manufacturers. Samsung has its One UI user interface, Xiaomi has been using MIUi on its mobiles since its inception, and Google uses Pixel Launcher on its Pixel family devices. It is necessary to clarify that launchers should not be confused with customization layers since the first is part of the second, but not the other way around.

What is a launcher for?

As we have mentioned, a launcher is normally used to customize most of the visual aspects and the operation of the home screen of our Android terminals. There are countless unofficial launchers created by third-party developers, some more configurable than others, with very different appearances or different methods of launching applications.

One aspect to take into account is that depending on some of the aforementioned premises; launchers can consume more or fewer resources, and depend on the version of Android that our device uses and the technical characteristics of each terminal, they can show more or less fluidity when interacting with the system interface. Thus, when choosing a good launcher, beyond the visual aspect and the operation, we must consider the optimization and capacity of our device when executing it.

What is a launcher for

In most third-party launchers, it will be possible to edit the number of desktop screens, the size, and image of the icons, the number of rows and columns in which to insert icons and widgets, the application drawer display, the way to access and the format of the application drawer, and many other aspects related to both the appearance of the home screen and its operation. Each launcher also introduces its own functions that we will probably not find in the rest.

The most popular launchers

Although there are hundreds of applications in this category on Google Play, only some of them have reached the level of popularity necessary to be installed on millions of Android devices worldwide. The vast majority can also be downloaded for free. Next, we detail some of the best Android launchers in Google Play, along with some of its most notable features.

  • Nova Launcher: the most popular and one of the most customizable launchers out there. Its interface is based on the appearance of pure Android and hides the odd interesting trick.
  • Action Launcher: although it is similar to the previous one, Action Launcher is an even more complete app than Nova. Its design is also reminiscent of the AOSP launcher.
  • Lawnchair: the most customizable Pixel Launcher. It brings some of the exclusive features of Google Pixel devices to all Android devices.
  • Niagara Launcher: a simple and minimalist launcher. All the apps are on the home screen in a vertical list format, and it doesn’t include too many customization options.

The most popular launchers

In addition to the classics, it is also possible to find some launchers capable of providing a completely different user experience from what Android offers us in its original state. There are even those that seek to simulate the operation of other mobile platforms such as iOS or the now-defunct Windows Phone.

Among these types of alternative launchers for Android, we have iOS 12 LauncherSmart Launcher 3Launcher Poco, or My Launcher, among many others that we will find with a simple search in the application store.

Now you know how to customize the home screen of your mobile to your liking, and the launchers are just the beginning. If you want to know more about launchers, we recommend that you visit our section dedicated exclusively to customization on Android. Also, if you have come to this article without knowing what a launcher was, you are probably interested in our guide to starting with Android from scratch.