If you long to enjoy the face-lift given to the Google Pixel iteration of Android, but don't want to drop the coin for the flagship device, hope is not lost. With the help of the latest release of Action Launcher, you can gain a number of the features you might have thought were only available via the Pixel phone. Those features include the following and more:
- Full screen All Apps mode (Plus version)
- Dock tinting
- Circular folder style
- Google Pill and Date widgets
Action Launcher also includes some other very cool features, such as:
- Quicktheme (Plus version): Allows Action Launcher to customize your home screen based on the colors from your wallpaper.
- Shutters (Plus version): Swipe upward on a shortcut to reveal an easily accessible widget for the app.
- Quickbar (Plus version): Customizes the Google search bar.
- Quickedit: Get quick access to alternative icon suggestions.
- Smartsize icons (Beta): Icons are automatically resized based on Material Design's recommended icon size.
- Covers: A new take on folders that brings different actions to different folders (such as tapping a Cover loads an app, swiping a Cover opens a hidden folder, which you have customized).
Some of the above features are included in the free version of Action Launcher. In order to get the entire feature set, you'll have to pay the $4.99 for the Plus edition (in-app purchase).
Let's install Action Launcher and look at some of the features that will make you run (not walk) to the Google Play Store and have at this outstanding home screen launcher.
Installing Action Launcher
- Open the Google Play Store on your Android device.
- Search for Action Launcher 3.
- Locate and tap the entry by Chris Lacy.
- Tap Install.
- Tap Accept.
- Allow the installation to complete.
Once the installation is finished, tap your device's home button and then tap the entry for Action Launcher 3. You can tap either Always (to set Action Launcher as your default) or Just This Once (to test it out).
When Action Launcher first starts, you will be greeted with a welcome screen that I highly recommend you read because it covers all of Action Launcher's features.
The two standout features
I won't go through a standard explanation of the features included with Action Launcher; instead, I'll highlight the two features that I think will compel you to make Action Launcher your default home screen launcher. I will demonstrate Action Launcher on the fantastic OnePlus 3, running Android 6.0.1.
Covers is Action Launcher's most impressive feature. The standard Android home screen allows you to combine icons together to create a folder. You tap that folder to open it and then tap to launch the app you want to use. With Action Launcher, you can convert those folders to Covers. A Cover offers two actions:
- Tap the cover to launch the default Cover app
- Swipe up to open the Cover and reveal all the apps within
To create Covers, combine your launchers to create a folder. Tap the folder open it, and then tap the three vertical dots in the bottom right corner of the folder (Figure A).
Creating a cover from a folder.
Tap Make Cover, and the folder will be converted to a Cover. When you do this, the Cover icon will switch to the default Cover app. Swipe up from the Cover icon to reveal all the apps within or tap the Cover to launch the default app.
To set the default app, swipe up to open the Cover and then long press and drag the app you want to use as the default to the upper left corner of the Cover. Once that app launcher is set in the upper left corner, it will be the app launched when you tap the Cover icon.
Shutters is the other feature that might have you drooling for Action Launcher. It's only available in the Plus version, but it's very much worth the cost of admission.
Here's how Shutters work: When you swipe upward from an app icon, the app's widget is revealed (Figure B), making it incredibly easy to interact with certain apps, right from within a Cover or a Folder.
A Shutter for Facebook Messenger.
There are a couple of things you should know about Shutters. First, not all apps are Shutter-enabled by default. When you open a Folder or a Cover, if you see two horizontal bars on an app (Figure C), that app is Shutter-enabled.
Apps within a Cover that are Shutter-enabled.
The next thing you need to know is that, even if an app isn't Shutter-enabled by default, for most apps, you can swipe upward on the launcher and allow Action Launcher to enable it for Shutter. Test the feature on those apps without the indicating bars and see if it will work.
There's more where that came from
Action Launcher contains quite a lot of goodness, but the Covers and Shutters features should have you running directly to the Google Play Store, installing this amazing home screen launcher, and setting it as your default. Once you've purchased the Plus version, you'll find so much more to love about Action Launcher, you'll wonder why it hasn't been your default all along.
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Jack Wallen is an award-winning writer for TechRepublic and Linux.com. He’s an avid promoter of open source and the voice of The Android Expert. For more news about Jack Wallen, visit his website jackwallen.com.