I have been using my Galaxy Nexus for a few months. I now have a pretty solid understanding of how the Android OS runs and how it differs from the iOS platform. I must say I do like the control I have especially now that I have unlocked the bootloader and rooted the phone. It took a little bit of reading, a little bit of patience and a few stressful tears but it appears that everything went ok with the process and now I am realizing the true potential of the Android platform. As exciting as the whole "root" process was, I want to share with you my most recent found treasure. This program has turned a so-so user experience into a much more user-friendly one. It really makes the Galaxy Nexus a joy to use and the polish and thought put into this program is something to be praised. So let's get into it. I'm talking about Nova Launcher for Android devices running Ice Cream Sandwich.
Nova Lancher is a full launcher replacement with enough mods, tweaks and configurations to keep you occuppied for a good several hours. But to me, it's not just about the modifications as it is the way that Nova has made this device of mine way more intuitive and sensible in the how it operates. Finding my apps, adding widgets, gesture shortcuts and an insane amount of other options makes anything I want to get my eyes on, just a flick, pinch or touch away. There is no better way to show you what I mean than to just get on with it. So here is my full feature review of Nova Lancher, the alternative launcher for your Android device running ICS.
Probably, my favorite feature is the added home screens. With 7 home screens available and a quick toggle button sitting in my dock, I can have instant access to any one of those home screens without the need to scroll. Here is a look at the home screens I've set up as as they are on my phone as of the time of this review.
When setting up your home screens and placing all your widgets in their respecive places, you may have widgets that are oddly shaped and just don't fit well with others. Well the creator of the Nova Launcher thought about that also. So they added the option to resize widgets. Simply hold down on the widget for a seconds and you will see the "remove or resize" options. This has to be one of my favorite features of Nova.
Now, as much as I enjoy the quick toggle button for setting my home screens in single view like this, there are some pretty spiffy options for scrolling behaviour built into Nova also.
Now what about that dock? Do you find the dock limits you in it's restrictive limit of just 5 places? This too now becomes a non-issue as Nova gives you the ability to add two more pages of dock space. There is also an added ability to increase the number of dock placements from 5 to 8 (although 8 is a bit crowded for my taste). You can also change your folder shapes from circles to a few other configurations and also change how the apps are displayed within the folder. Below is a look at my "other" two docks along with my home dock:
Now that you have the critical parts of your launcher set up just as you like, let's dive into the settings menus and see what hides in there:
Let me give a quick rundown of some of the exciting feature settings that are favorites of mine:
- Desktop Grid - Adjust the margins for apps and widgets on the home screen(s).
- Persistant Search Bar - Put a google search widget on every home screen you have.
- Home Screen - Declare the number of home screens and how they are arranged.
- Infinite Scroll - Loop your homescreens so you don't have to scroll back the opposite directions. There is another setting to do the same with the docks you have set up.
- Drawer - Change how the apps and widgets are displayed.
- Gestures- You thought gesture shortcuts were just for iOS? Think again.
- Hide Apps - You know those apps you know you just won't use? Yeah. You can hide 'em.
Then there is the list views. Press and hold down on a blank area of your homescreen just as you would to add an app or widget to your home screen and now not only are you given those same options but a plethora of new ones. Quick access to your widgets, actions, shortcuts and settings menus are all right there in a neat and tidy package.
So, do you like what you see? Nova Launcher has to be my favorite Android discovery to date. Download it now in the Market. And if you want to enhance the experience even further, make sure and get the "Prime" add-on for just $4.00 which is required for a few of the forementions settings tweaks.
If you have given Nova Launcher a try, please comment with your thoughts. Or if there is another launcher you have been impressed with, let me know.
Now, onto more Xperiences....