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Top 10 best Android launchers for 2014

Kris Carlon
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We get asked to recommend the best Android launcher all the time and we're constantly on the lookout for new ones with which to spice up our smartphones. An alternative launcher provides tons more customization options for your home screens, app drawer, folders and widgets, as well as near complete control over how your phone performs when switching screens, launching apps and so on. I asked some of the other AndroidPIT editors what they think the best Android launcher is right now, so here are five of our current favorites.

AndroidPIT Launcher Teaser
Blast off with ten of the best Android launchers. / © AndroidPIT

Apex Launcher

Apex is one of the most popular custom launchers available right now, with over a million installs in the Play Store and an average rating of 4.5 stars. Like most launchers on our list it offers near-endless customization options, complete home screen and app drawer control, gesture settings, and tons of icons, themes, launch animations and transition effects. There's also a paid version which adds even more features to an already formidable free launcher.

AndoridpIT Apex Launcher KitKat
This is my current Apex Launcher setup - exactly how I like it. / © AndroidPIT/Apex

Buzz Launcher

Buzz is a little bit of an anomaly on the launcher stage, with such a unique look it's hard to forget. Buzz has left a mark on over a million Play Store user's minds, earning it a rating of 4.4 stars for good reason. What sets Buzz apart is that it allows you to install custom home screens and themes shared by other Buzz users. So you don't have to laboriously come up with your own idea, you can simply borrow someone else's. Buzz is unbeatable if you want a radical new look on your Android without investing any effort in creating it yourself.

AndroidPIT Buzz Launcher
Just some of the wild homescreens users have shared in Buzz Launcher. / © AndroidPIT/Buzz

Action Launcher

Action Launcher is a relative newcomer that has captured quite a lot of attention is a very short time. Version 2.0 appeared mid-December but Action already has in excess of one hundred thousand installs on the Play Store, with a very impressive review rating of 4.5 stars. It offers the possibility of a simple one-screen launcher with swipe out app drawer and customizable widget drawer on the right (you can add as many screens as you want of course). There's also some nifty folder actions for icons, like Shutters – customizable widget banks – and Covers, which let you group similar apps inside folders, but still open the Cover icon app with a single tap.

AndroidPIT Action Launcher
Our editor Nico's homescreen (left), Action Launcher's app drawer and Shutter widgets. / © AndroidPIT/Action

Nova Launcher

Quite possibly the undisputed king of alternative Android launchers, Nova holds a spot on basically everyone's smartphone. With over five million Play Store installs, the fans can't be wrong, with Nova scoring an impressive 4.7 star user rating. Nova is quite similar to Apex and offers much the same functionality, but Nova is pretty much the go-to launcher for anyone not terribly familiar with launchers. You really can't go wrong with this one.

AndroidPIT Nova Launcher Beta Home
Nova has many great options so it's easy to know why it's so popular. / © AndroidPIT/Nova Launcher

Next Launcher

Next is quite possibly the coolest 3D launcher available. It's hard to put into words just how radically different this launcher is compared to anything else on this list. All the best features aren't free, as with most launchers, but what the Premium version lacks in free-ness it makes up for in wow-ness. If you want a hi-tech, attention grabbing launcher on your phone, try the free version out and try to resist upgrading. They say a picture is worth a thousand words, so the following video is basically a thesis on Next Launcher.

Link to Video

Honorable mentions:

ADW Launcher

Over five million installs with a 4.4 star rating in the Play Store. Covering Android versions from 1.6 right up to 4.1, ADW covers everything you could want from a free launcher: customizations, themes, widgets, skins, icon packs and gesture settings.

GO Launcher EX

GO Launcher EX has over one hundred million installs and a 4.5 star rating, making it the unparalelled Android launcher extraordinaire. GO is basically as polished a free launcher as you can find, but there's a lot of cross promotion that can get a little annoying.

Smart Launcher

Smart Launcher takes things and turns them inside out. Instead of neat rows and boxes, Smart Launcher gives you rings of the most commonly used apps and vertical cascades of categorized apps. It's linked with the app manager too, so if you delete an icon, the app is deleted too. Simple and unique with a 4.6 star rating based on over five million installs.

Yandex Launcher

Yandex goes a step beyond the usual launcher and switches up your dialer and contacts as well. Yet another million happy customers have voted it in at 4.4 stars and some of the AndroidPIT team swear by it. It’s clean and neat with a little pizzazz thrown in for good measure.

Everything.me Home Launcher Beta

This one's still in beta phase so you'll have to forgive the occasional bug, but still, over a million satisfied users have ranked it at 4.5 stars anyway. Everything.me's special take is that it adapts what's on your phone to whatever you're interested in at that moment. So every search you make will bring a complete makeover of your phone along with it.

Are you rocking a custom launcher we missed? What features are you looking for most in an alternative launcher?

If you don't see one you like here, check out the 5 best Android launchers to spruce up your smartphone.

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Comments

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  • Amat Mulisha 9 months ago Link

    nova launcher is the best.friendly ui.anf easy to use.you never regrets with nova.

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  • Avinash Naik 9 months ago Link

    nova is Best.... ha kitkat style

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  • colsec 9 months ago Link

    you need to mention Aviate launcher! it may be invite only still but is fantastic!

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  • Shanaka Fernando 9 months ago Link

    Nova Launcher is the best

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  • Asad Ali 9 months ago Link

    Nova is best of all.. because it is super smooth and user friendly

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  • David D. 9 months ago Link

    GEL?

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  • bisot p. 9 months ago Link

    nova and smart launcher are good for simple navigation :)

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    Guy Devos 8 months ago Link

    Apex need to fix their cardstack scrolling. It lags like hell.

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      Kris Carlon 8 months ago Link

      Hey @Guy. What card stack scrolling is lagging for you? In Google Now or another app? I'm running Apex now and haven't noticed the problem.

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  • iMaC74 8 months ago Link

    Nova! I've purchased them all and kept the best. Nova Launcher running flawlessly on my GPE S4 4.4.2 👌😉

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  • Virgil Bates Jr 8 months ago Link

    I have the cover launcher, works perfect, has Customable screens and the right app tray for what I do the most....

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      Kris Carlon 8 months ago Link

      Very true @Virgil, the only reason it didn't make the list is because technically it's a lock screen. But you're right, it's awesome.

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  • Shane Shaheen 7 months ago Link

    Apex Launcher ..The Best. and consume less RAM comparing to others. The best part about Apex and Nova is that, it retains the default Android user interface with some additional features. At first glance anybody will think that it is the same default android launcher , but they will wonder when i show the unique features. For some reasons, Apex stands higher than Nova for me....

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      Kris Carlon 7 months ago Link

      Me too, although I came to Apex before Nova and then just couldn't find enough about Nova to make me think it was any better than Apex.

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  • Kayla McKinney 6 months ago Link

    I love android, but have been craving a new look lately. So I decided to find a windows 8 launcher. After a couple of days of research, downloading, and customizing, I have finally landed on Launcher 8 Free (fake wp8) by QiHang Dev Team. Granted this launcher could still use some work, but of all the windows 8 launchers this is my favorite. Its the most customizable and offers plenty of features. Definetly worth sticking around for. This launcher has the opportunity to go far.

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  • Mohammed van de Kraats 4 months ago Link

    Holo Laucher
    Another good launcher with a good reputation.
    1.000.000 downloads and rated 4,5 by almost 50.000 users

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  • Mohammed van de Kraats 4 months ago Link

    A star rating for an app is nice, but more important is to look at how many users rated the app.

    A rating of 5 stars, rated by say less then a hundred users is less valuable then a 4 star rating by several thousand users.

    Another important detail, I am missing here is how healthy the app is.
    In other words, how good is it maintained.
    How frequently is it updated
    How old is the latest update (is the app still alive ??)
    Which Android versions are supported
    Does it support the latest Android versions
    How good is the response on issues

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      Kris Carlon 2 months ago Link

      You can grab most of these details in the Play Store listing in the Additional Information section. You can see when the last update was posted and take a guess at how frequently it gets looked at based on the version numbers in the What's New section. if the developer has a website you can check to see how often they post about updates too.

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  • Byron Garay 2 months ago Link

    NOVA Launcher 👌 Super Smooth, never had any problem so far.

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  • paulo 2 months ago Link

    action launcher. just because I love minimalist launchers also with one screen and lots of shutters ands covers.

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      Kris Carlon 2 months ago Link

      @Paulo, did you know Action Launcher Pro is discounted at the moment? if you don't already have Pro, now is a great time to grab it!

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      • paulo 2 months ago Link

        yes and I have it. thanks

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  • Ariston Collander 2 months ago Link

    I've been using Terrain and it's been working quite nicely so far. It's in Beta and is US only, but it's pretty nice.

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      Kris Carlon 2 months ago Link

      Hey @Ariston, we just wrote about Terrai n Launcher. I haven't checked it out yet but I like the interface. How do you think it compares to Google Now?

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  • Shubham Gothi 2 months ago Link

    Tsf shell is the best launcher i have ever used so try that...
    U will really love it...

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  • Shubham Gothi 2 months ago Link

    Tsf sheel is the best launcher i have ever used...

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  • John Tribolta 2 months ago Link

    New android launcher pre-released from the company Jolla, officially opened access to its installation launcher for the Android operating system to those who held a special reception at the official site. As expected, the popularity of real estate development community portal XDA did not sit idly by and published the original installation file.

    When you first hear about something called «Jolla Launcher», then the application - the interface add-on for the operating system Android, representing a complete copy of the user interface of the mobile OS fresh Jolla - Sailfish. By the way, the official port "Sailfish" is available for the latest version of the smartphone LG Nexus 4.

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