One reason that some users prefer Android based smartphones compared to iPhones is their high level of customization. One of the greatest changes that can be made when it comes to an Android phones look and feel is to change the default launcher that is installed on the phone. The launcher, or “home screen replacement”, is essentially the way that the phone screen looks when the home button is pressed. Different launchers will change the icons of shortcuts, modify the dock buttons at the bottom of the phone, and change how the phone transitions between home screens.
One of the most popular launchers is LauncherPro. At the bottom of the screen, there is a series of five customizable dock icons that can be set to tasks like starting a voice call or more complex tasks like opening a new blank text message to edit and send to a friend. The dock bar can also be swiped right or left allowing two additional dock bars to each display five more shortcuts. This allows up to 15 different functions to be accessible from the home screen without having to even open an application list.
Another popular launcher replacement for Android users is ADW.Launcher. ADW.Launcher adds features such as the ability to add an unlimited number of shortcuts to the dock by dragging and dropping. If a user has many applications, files or folders that they need to access quickly, they will find this is a useful replacement launcher. ADW.Launcher also is able to change the name and icon of a shortcut by simply long-pressing the icon to be changed.
A more minimalist replacement launcher is SlideScreen. SlideScreen takes the approach of multiple home screens, icons and widgets, and replaces them with one single simplified home screen. When using SlideScreen, all the user sees are basic options like phone, calendar and battery status in the form of narrow panels. The size of each of the panels can be modified to give more room to functions the user determines to be the most important. The overall design of SlideScreen is to give users a clear, simplified and clutter free home screen.
Paid and ad-supported free versions of all of these (and many more) launchers are found in the Android Marketplace. No hacking or modding of the phone is required, all a user needs to do is to download the launcher from the market and install it. The next time the home button is pressed; the Android system will ask the user to choose what launcher they want to use, and the option to set it as the default launcher. Users should try several and go with the one that fits their needs the best.
Britney Fuller is a writer who enjoys sharing her knowledge and advice with readers. For more on Android launchers, Snake Bytez offers readers information on the best Android launcher.
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