The 8 Best Android Launchers of 2019

Find the right launcher for the look and feel you want

An Android homescreen on a device against a black and white world map backdrop.

 Pexels / Pixabay

Third-party launchers have been a mainstay of the Android operating system almost since the beginning, and are still a major part of what sets Android apart from other mobile OSes. Because of how central launchers are to Android’s identity, there is a constant crop of new launchers, as well as a stream of new updates for the classics, as different ones maneuver for user share. To help you keep up, here are our picks for the best Android launchers you can get right now.

01
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Best Launcher for Simplicity: Evie

The Evie Launcher for Android

What We Like

  • A small set of straightforward configuration options you can access from the standard Android home screen long-press option.

  • It’s free with no ads and no badgering to upgrade (since there is none).

What We Don't Like

  • You won’t find the array of options to satisfy the theming diehards.

Evie is a relatively new launcher that focuses on offering a few polished features and doing them well.

Considering this philosophy, while they don’t offer any groundbreaking features, Evie truly shines in its simplicity. It gives users enough customization options to let you change icon packs and do basic configurations like changing dock size and aesthetics, altering folder behavior, and adjusting the home screen grid dimensions. Critically, there aren’t so many options that you get flooded with them or can’t find what you’re looking for (as can happen with alternatives like Nova), but still enough to set everything just so. The result is a launcher that lets you give your device a fresh look exactly the way you want it.

02
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Best for Deep Customization Options: Nova

The Nova Android Launcher

What We Like

  • Rich customization lets you design your UI to the exact form and function you want.

  • Extra nice touches like night mode and app badges.

What We Don't Like

  • Sometimes you can set something that you can’t set back (like removing an app drawer for swipe drawer and not being able to re-enable the app drawer again).

  • Must give Nova a lot of low-level access to your device, which can be dangerous for stability and security.

Nova is a classic Android launcher that has long been known for a relatively light resource footprint and deep customization options.

As with many launchers, Nova allows custom icons and is compatible with practically every icon pack you could want to install. Its main focus, though, is customizations, and it gives you plenty of them to choose from. These include basic UI elements like home screen grid size, screen edge padding size, dock look and feel, and even the page indicator behavior.

However, Nova goes much further, such as by letting you fully tweak the orientation, grid size, transparency, opening gestures, and hidden apps for the drawer. It even lets you enable a built-in night mode, which is especially helpful for older versions of Android that don’t have it integrated by default.

The final feature worth noting (though certainly not the final one you could find) is the ability to set the type and function of gestures, to a degree that is probably second only to Action Launcher.

03
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Best for Gesture Customization: Action Launcher

The Action Launcher for Android

What We Like

  • Shutters are a truly awesome feature, and they make Action Launcher stand out.

  • The welcome screen walks users through notable features.

What We Don't Like

  • It used to be a solid app but is now only available in a beta release that has some very glaring stability issues.

  • Pushy with its Plus offering, (i.e. Leaving annoying badges on icons until you view the message advertising badge functionality on Plus.)

  • Plus is quite expensive at $6.99

More than almost any other launcher, Action Launcher brought gestures to the Android home screen in a big way. In that respect, it continues to forge ahead, making its mission to tackle the shortcomings of the 'Pixel' launcher and open the door to that experience to all devices.

Shutters are the centerpiece of Action Launcher, allowing you to swipe on an app icon on the home screen to get that app’s widget functionality (if it has some) in a popup window. This is really great if you have a lot of high-functionality widget options but don’t want to dedicate pages and pages of your home screen to fit them all. This feature, as integral as it is to the Action Launcher experience is sadly, only available in their “Plus” in-app purchase option.

04
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Best for Productivity: ASAP Launcher

The ASAP Launcher for Android

What We Like

  • Unique layout sets it apart from other launchers and peels back the distractions.

  • It’s simple to use, light and fast.

What We Don't Like

  • Icon packs can only be set with the 'Prime' version.

  • The layout is not for everyone.

Departing from the bulk of its competitors in design philosophy, ASAP strives to turn your phone into an all-around productivity center. On pages to the left and right of the main home screen, ASAP has 'Cards' with a HUD for your contacts, events, and built-in to-do list, respectively (among others). On the main page, you can pull up the bottom dock to be automatically served the most frequently used apps based on what ASAP learns about your usage patterns.

True to its focus on productivity, there is no clutter on the main (center) home screen, as you can’t put widgets or apps on it. With a slide from the left edge, you can access an app drawer, and a slide from the right edge brings up quick toggles, putting all the essentials at your fingertips. Like many launchers that are keeping current, it allows gesture setting, and it also has straightforward theming options that are still consistent with Material Design principles.

05
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Best for Android Familiarity: Lawnchair Launcher

The Lawnchair Launcher for Android

What We Like

  • Gives you just enough customization on the areas that most users might want to fuss with.

  • Good blurring and scaling options for icon and text size (between the homescreen, dock and app drawer) let you craft a refined look.

What We Don't Like

  • It’s a bit buggy (like scrolled wallpaper working for the homescreen but not under the dock), and doesn’t always register taps to enter the launcher settings.

  • Can be kind of sluggish.

Like Evie, Lawnchair Launcher is another choice that foregoes panache for a modest offering of straightforward features, for users who want only minor adjustments.

In addition to the fundamentals you can expect from most of its competitors, it includes nice settings for the top Google search bar, as well as the weather and date display. Its light, dark and black themes also afford some elegant theming possibilities. Overall, though, Lawnchair tries not to stray too far from Android’s aesthetics and functionality, electing not to reinvent the wheel.

06
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Best for Windows or Cortana Lovers: Microsoft Launcher

The Microsoft Launcher for Android

What We Like

  • Ships with a nice suite of gestures and interesting customization options, like vertical home screen paging.

  • The pull-out dock with quick toggles is really handy.

What We Don't Like

  • Pushy with Microsoft services, including a folder of about a dozen Microsoft app icons whether you have them downloaded or not.

  • Animations and motion can lag a bit.

This launcher integrates Microsoft services and design considerations to give your Android device a slight Windows inflection.

Microsoft Launcher has a similar layout to the stock Android home screen, but with some extra finishing touches. First and foremost, the dock can be swiped up to reveal a second row of dock space for more apps, and some quick toggles for Bluetooth, flashlight and other apps, as well as a brightness slider. As is becoming more popular across Android launchers, and mobile OSes in general, the left-hand page is a feed for news and personal information such as calendar events and to-do items. This feed can be easily customized for the types of news you want to see, or to display different in the 'Glance' personal feed.

The launcher also offers integration of Microsoft’s Cortana virtual assistant, if you prefer that over Google’s. It’s worth noting that this is probably the only launcher that has a mature virtual assistant, and one of the few you can get on Android besides Google.

07
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Best for Up-to-the-Minute Widgets: AIO Launcher

The AIO Launcher for Android

What We Like

  • Offers a novel take that’s great for users who aren’t big into apps but want a current summary of what’s going on with their device.

  • It allows advanced configuration for power users with integrations like Tasker.

What We Don't Like

  • The design is a bit clunky with circa Lollipop aesthetics.

  • Kind of a hassle if you use more than a handful of apps on a regular basis.

One of the more unique launchers in this roundup, AIO turns your home screen into a vertical feed of up-to-the-minute widgets. AIO tries to give you a sense of what is going on, both with your device and with the events and communications apps and services you have plugged in, in a single glance.

For everything that is not immediately in reach on the home screen, displayed on one of the onscreen widgets, there is a universal search button hovering in the lower-right. More than the other launchers here, AIO’s is a solidly widget-focused UI. This puts convenient features in easy reach, like a home screen calculator or timer. On top of that, it adds power user features by default, like a real-time RAM usage bar.

08
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Best for Front and Center Apps: Niagara Launcher

The Niagara Launcher for Android

What We Like

  • An elegant design and ease of app selection; you’re basically always in your app drawer.

What We Don't Like

  • Say goodbye to widgets.

  • Not a lot of customization; it’s really “what you see is what you get.”

If AIO was simple by shoving your apps out of the way for functional widgets, Niagara is the opposite: Niagara puts your apps front and center.

Instead of a dock, your main home screen is simply the date, time, and up to eight of your most-used apps (which you pick at initialization). For all your other apps, you simply swipe down the vertically descending alphabet on the right side to bring up all the apps that start with the selected letter. When you let go to select a letter, adjacent letters and their apps become visible, with the selected letter in the middle of the screen so you can tap the desired app.

Despite its simplicity, Niagara does give you a reasonable degree of customization. You can still set an icon pack if you want, and pick between light and dark themes. You can also decide whether to display the date or time, or even the vertical alphabet (though swiping where it was still functions as normal). If your phone is about your apps first and foremost, this launcher is for you.