Mar 08 AT 5:10 PM Dustin Earley 20 Comments

Transform your home screen with Action Launcher Pro

action launcher featured

I’ll never forget when ADW Launcher was first released. Discovering the power that a replacement launcher could have on Android was exciting. From themes and gestures, to action icons and in-depth widget customization, using a custom launcher like ADW felt like using a totally different OS at times. It seemed like every week, home screen replacement type apps were coming out with bigger and better features. And then things hit a wall.

For the longest time, real innovation, in practically any area with replacement launchers, was virtually nonexistent. Sure, apps like Nova Launcher and Apex are incredible, and have improved on the legacy developers like Ander Webbs have built, but I don’t feel like a whole lot has changed in terms of features and functionality.

If you want real innovation, with real productivity tweaks and adjustments, look no further than Chris Lacy’s Action Launcher. My new home screen replacement.

Action Launcher does away with themes and gaudy transition animations, and instead focuses on a few dramatic changes that change the way you use your device. The three main focal points of Action Launcher fall in the quick search bar, quick drawer and folders.

Screenshot_2013-03-07-18-05-41The quick search bar is essentially the Google search bar on steroids. While the Google search bar does allow you to search for things like apps and contacts, the quick search bar on Action Launcher has improved upon this ten fold. The first thing you’ll notice is that no longer does Google Now need to open to look for things. Simply touch the quick search bar, and start typing. Google Now results will always be your first option, but access to apps, contacts and shortcuts are readily available in a scrollable list with immediate access. It ends up being much faster than the default Google search, and just as reliable.

The quick search bar also includes other default shortcuts, like a voice search icon, quick access to the Play Store, a quick drawer button and a menu key. Recent apps will also appear in the quick search bar before any text is inputed.

The quick drawer is the second focus point of Action Launcher, and it’s amazing. Accessible by either tapping the quick drawer icon in the quick search bar, pressing the home button from the default home screen or with a swiping gesture from the left to right side of your display, the Action Launcher is a vertical alphabetized list of all your apps.

Screenshot_2013-03-07-18-05-22I love that with the quick drawer, you can easily touch a letter on the side of the list to skip to that letter, which is insanely fast. I have experienced zero lag or stutter anywhere throughout Action Launcher, but the quick drawer really exemplifies this. It makes the default app drawer on Android 4.2 feel clunky and slow. It doesn’t feature immediate access to widgets, but those are available by either choosing “customize” in the main menu, or long pressing on any home screen.

The last feature that totally changed how I access apps and information on my phone are the new folders, and covers. Traditionally, folders simply house apps. Action Launcher allows you to not only create folders, but use a specific app as a cover icon that allows you to access that app, without opening the folder.

For example, You can create a folder for messaging, with the stock messaging app, Facebook Messenger and a few 1×1 sms shortcuts. You can then set the stock messaging app as the cover, so that if you click on the folder, the messaging app automatically opens. If you want to use something else inside the folder, either swipe up on the folder, or double tap. Folders and cover icons are absolutely genius. I was skeptical of their use at first, and they took a minute to get used to, but now I can’t live without them.

At $3.99, I highly recommend Action Launcher for anyone who is looking for more productivity out of their home screen. Right now, Action Launcher is actually on sale for fifty percent off, only $1.99, for Google Play’s birthday. So if you were or are on the fence about it, don’t miss out.

 

Dustin Earley: Tech enthusiast; avid gamer; all around jolly guy.

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  • hurracayne

    I’ll tried both of the developers apps and they are really good. Android apps have really come a long way since 2009

  • ordio

    Good review!
    i’ve been a long time nova launcher user, and your review definitely makes me want to check this launcher out.
    Being on sale is also another reason :)

    Thanks!

  • james

    What wallpaper is shown in the photos, that gives you the unread messages and weather info? Would be grateful to find out.

    • irishrally

      DashClock Widget

    • Dustin Earley

      The wallpapers is stock on the Nexus 7, and that’s DashClock with the Falcon extension turned on.

  • donger

    Looks really good.

  • icedtia

    I’m assuming you’re running this in the screenshot… how were you able to turn off the app labels in the dock? I can’t seem to find the option to do this.

  • sctrait

    Never looked back since Nova launcher prime, but this is an interesting concept. Will definitely be trying it out.

  • Jorge Vieira

    Got it. I had read other reviews on this launcher and none of the really showcased it as much as you did. I purely purchased this on your recommendation and I have enjoyed it in the last two days. And I’m really excited on where Chris will take this launcher. I don’t know what other features he could add but I would love to see it get better over time.

    I only see lag in my widget menu. Other than that it’s very fast. Where other apps make your home screen look flashy this launcher indead improves functionality over the stock OS. Running this on my nexus 4.

  • Al

    I bought this after reading this review. There is some lag (N4) that needs to be worked on and some UX issues to be sorted, but overall, it looks like a solid purchase. I’m so glad the search bar works the way it does – I prefer the old (Gingerbread) method where it searches apps, contacts, etc, without showing me web results. One of the main things I miss after switching to the N4.

  • iamXiV92a

    Action Launcher is REALLY nice – I love it. Developer Chris Lacy provides a lot of feedback via Google+ and is pretty responsive regarding inquiries

  • chiefs9089online

    Not a bad launcher and has promise, but IMHO not quite up to Nova yet. I do like the option for universal search, but I don’t use it that often. I like the different take on the launcher, but I feel currently Nova has more customization (gestures, docks, backup, etc.) that I prefer. I bought it none the less and will check back every now and then to see the progress. It might be my daily driver in the future.

  • Jimmy_Jo

    I really like Action Launcher and have been using it as my default launcher for about a month now. I highly reccomend that after you import your setup from Nova or Apex launcher you then uninstall any 3rd party launchers you may have besides Action Launcher. having other launchers installed makes things a little glitchy. It’s smooth sailing otherwise. I highly reccomend this app!

    But the one thing I would like to see implemented in the next update is the ability to use custom icons like most launchers allow you to. I have to use GoSMS due to the issues with most AOSP messaging apps but I can’t stand that yellowish-green and orange icon. Oh well! LOL

  • Ze

    I downloaded this launcher and I really like it so far. However, is it just me or does it seem that this launcher drains the battery at a quicker pace. It’s almost alarming how fast my percentage falls by simply using my phone. Any help would be appreciated. Thanks.

  • stuart

    I love Action Launcher, but it has started to decimate my battery. Not sure what changed, but it’s draining both my Nexus 4 and 7.