Android Launchers

For the past few months, I have been trying a couple of different launchers on my Sammy GS3. TouchWiz looked better but not great with the update earlier this year and it still is a little annoying.  UCCW and ZooperWidget are great ways to build custom widgets. I find now that I use ZW a lot more because of the community resources. Themer and the group behind ZW are working hard to build a usable and diverse group of choices, but I don’t use Themer currently and will probably wait to see how it shapes out for now. Beyond the basic everyday apps I only use ZW, WidgetLocker, and Dynamic Notifications. Of course when the KitKat update pushes through a lot of this might change. I will say that I have not rooted my phone even thought the guys at ParanoidAndroid and CyanogenMod are making some very interesting OS builds.

So, I looked at the following to see if anything was really what I wanted.

Nova Launcher

I started using Nova back in August when I wanted a loader to develop desktop widgets for the screen lock.  WidgetLocker is a great add-on for this and the integration with other Tesla Coil apps is spot-on. What I like most about this is the complete customization package and the notice flags. I first downloaded the Free version to see if I liked it and bought the premium the next day. It has been my go to launcher since August and I have used it in a variety of different ways. One noticeable glitch is the auto-rotate function. Sometimes it does not want to work properly in specific apps. I use my phone in landscape a lot of the time so this became annoying when the launcher would lag during rotation to launch a phone call or answer a txt.

Google Now Launcher

This is what I use exclusively on my Nexus 7. The paneling with an additional Google Note page is great. I get a lot of my sports scores the without having to lose screen real estate to an app that I will only use a couple of times during the week. Unlike Nova, the landscape mode works great and the reformatting of wallpapers is also a nice touch during to rotations. The Google commands are a great little to for the kids and my daughters love to use it. Lastly this is great for the tablet. My experience with the phone was negative due a lack of notification flags, battery drain, and random “OK, Google” prompts while I was teaching. The other downside is a lack of folder spring in the main all menu. Everything is alphabetized but it can be difficult if you don’t remember how the name is listed

Aviate

First it is by invite only. You ask for the invite then you get an email later saying you are invited. Not sure why but I’m sure I could guess. First it generate a list of several titled home screens that change throughout the day. (Work, Home, Morning, Evening, Travel) All of you apps are then sorted into one or more of these home screens. It’s nice that it interprets you needs based on time of day and travel patterns. The downside is that it is using GPS and Wi-Fi logins to decide what to show. I used it exclusively on my phone for almost two SMS but the battery drain was way more than I was user to and I had several days of a dad phone. If I ever got a bigger battery, I might go back but not for now.

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