One of the advantages of using an Android tablet is the customization available, especially when compared to the iPad. While iOS restricts you to a grid of icons and folders, Android allows custom launchers, which change the look and functionality of the home screen.
The Google Play store is stocked with many such launchers. Perhaps the default Android is looking a little vanilla and you wish to jazz up your tablet. Or you may be looking to cover up an overly busy UI, such as Samsung’s TouchWiz.
These are the best four choices In the Google Play Store for adding a customized look and functionality to your Android tablet. All of them have a free version, which has a sufficient set of features for most use cases, as well as a pro version with additional features and capabilities.
Nova Launcher is one of the most popular launchers with over 5,000,000 installs, according to its Google Play page. It is a very reliable home screen substitute as it is stable, uses minimal resources and offers several choices for changing how the home screen looks.
One especially useful feature is the scrollable dock. Instead of being restricted to the four icons on the dock, you can create up to three different docks to scroll between. On a tablet this allows up to 7 icons per dock - giving you plenty of spaces for core applications that you want to be able to access quickly.
Other tweaks include choices for transition effects and scrolling. Nova Launcher enables “infinite scrolling,” For example, this takes you to the screen on the farthest left after swiping through the one on the farthest right.
Another excellent choice is Apex. It carries many of the same type of customizations found in Nova Launcher: choices for icon style, docks, and scrolling. However, if you are looking to mimic the visual acumen of Google’s Nexus 5 phone, this will be your best choice as it offers a Kit Kat-like theme among many others.
The free version includes most of the core features, such as creating custom swipes to perform actions or tweaking how many apps fill the home screen. The pro version adds other tools, like adding a widget to the dock or unread count notifications, like those you would find on iOS.
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A more recent addition to the launcher scene is Action Launcher. It has two features that differentiate it from the other choices: Quickpage and 1-Swipe.
Quickpage is a home screen panel that can be accessed with a swipe from the right of the home screen. The 1-Swipe feature lets you access an app drawer from the left-hand side of the screen.
Just like the other choices it has many options for home screen widgets and themes to change up the look of your Android tablet.
Smart Launcher is another innovative choice for your home screen given its minimalist design. It replaces your icons with flatter, more refined alternatives.
You can also organize your app drawer by categories instead of having them just listed in alphabetical order. Additionally, Smart Launcher offers numerous different themes to change up the look of your Android tablet. Also, the pro version includes a secondary screen accessible from the home sreen that includes widgets.