A launcher is pretty much your phone's face. It's the app you need to go through whenever you want to get to any other app -- which means you see your homescreen dozens of times every day. Competition amongst launchers is fierce, with established players like Nova fighting against innovative launchers like Buzz and many others.
Picking the right launcher isn't easy, and you'll probably have to switch between several launchers until you find one that really works for you. Here are three channels that will help you narrow down your choices.
TJ's channel cuts to the chase:
Some of you may be purists, but most of the rest of us love our customization. A third-party launcher is a great way to personalize your Android phone. But which one is right for you? Let's take a look...
If you're trying to get a lay of the land and see who are the biggest and most notable players, this is a great way to get oriented in launcher-land.
Brandon Giesing's Launchers! channel addresses an annoying issue with Google Play: When you search for "Launcher," you get some launchers (of course) but you also get dozens of launcher themes mixed in with the actual launchers. Often, themes for well-known launchers (like Go or Apex) will be listed ahead of entire launchers -- so the really interesting, innovative ones are buried under piles of themes.
That's why on Launchers! you will find only launchers, no less than 35 of them! I challenge you to find 35 launchers on your own when searching Google Play... It'll take you a while.
The other interesting thing about this channel is the way it's sorted: The very first app, ADWLauncher, is marked "[Holo Styled Launchers Start]". Scroll down a bit, and you'll find 91 Launcher, marked as "[Holo Styled Launchers End]". From there on, it's Gingerbread-style launchers. That's a very cool use of Playboard's manual sorting feature (you can change the order of the apps in your channel).
If you're not satisfied with the big players and want to try some more esoteric stuff, Brandon's channel will point you in the right direction.
We started with TJ's channel that has five apps. We then moved on to Brandon's, with 35 apps. And now, we're going to end off with a bang: Marcel Lgt's Launcher channel has no less than 89 apps -- pretty crazy!
Marcel keeps his reviews objective, and doesn't gush over apps. Here's what he had to say about Aviate:
Not yet available, but will be automated and not very customizable. Therefore Not My first choice for replacing my homescreen. But maybe yours?
He even goes so far as to call a certain launcher "impractical and ugly"... but you'll have to look in the channel itself to see what launcher gets that compliment. The Launcher channel gives a very wide look over the launcher landscape, including both the best-known ones and some truly rare picks (Splay Launcher, anyone?).
The thing about launchers is that they take time to customize. Once you pick a launcher, you may spend hours tweaking the homescreens to look just so, applying your favorite themes, and so on. So browse carefully, read the reviews, pick well, and then customize the heck out of it. Good luck!