One of my early Joys of Unix (well, technically X-Windows) was discovering that the Window Manager, essentially the primary user interface, was something that could be altered at will. While the rest of the world was stuck with Windows 95, us computer geeks could dramatically alter what our desktop experience was like. TWM, FVWM, FLWM, Enlightment and my favorite Ratpoison (a mouseless graphical UI!) were all the rage.
Turns out, Android has a similar philosophy (and why shouldn't it, we're the same geeks after all). Only, instead of calling the applications 'Window Managers' they are now known as 'Launchers'.
That's right, by installing a different Launcher from the Google Play Store you can, in some cases, dramatically alter how your phone appears to work. It turns out, the home screen and its behavior isn't something controlled by Samsung or T-mobile, it's in your control.
So which Launcher should you run? As you can imagine, there are plenty of articles out there to help you decide. More than anything else, you'll probably want to plan for some serious experimentation time.
For the past few weeks I've been using Smart Launcher 2 and I do believe I'm hooked (I've upgraded to 'Pro' to toss them a few bucks for their hard work).
Three reasons I like Smart Launcher:
- It has automatic support for Landscape and Portrait mode. This is ideal for use with an external keyboard (more coming on this, soon).
- I like the simplicity and mind alternating behavior of the Gesture capability. Effectively, there's a single home screen and swiping left, right, up or down launches a specific app. In my head, I can imagine one screen of icons and to the left is Google Maps, while Google Chrome is standing by to the right.
- I'm digging the enhanced App Drawer. It offers nice organizational functionality by default, and I love the ability to uninstall or hide an app by long pressing its icon.
For me, Smart Launcher is different enough from the built in Launcher to expand my mind and gain access to slick new features, yet it's still reliable and fast to use.
So, what are you waiting for? Go discover your Launcher and start thinking like a geek.