Google is putting the kibosh on one of its best apps.
Originally available on the Nexus 5 running Android 4.4. KitKat, Google brought the Google Now Launcher to the Play Store way back in February 2014. This was great news for folks who wanted a Google-y software experience on their non-Nexus Android phones.
Now, three years later, the company has decided to part ways with the Now Launcher. Though upsetting for some people, the news isn’t incredibly surprising; Google’s new Pixel and Pixel XL came with an all-new launcher (the aptly-named Pixel Launcher), and it’s even available in the Play Store. While non-Pixel users aren’t able to download the new launcher directly from the Play Store, the app does work on other phones if you don’t mind sideloading it.
It’s not all bad news, though. If you already have the Now Launcher installed on your device, you’ll still be able to use it once it’s gone from the Play Store in April. Just don’t expect any major updates to come to the launcher anytime soon.
So if you’re on the lookout for a simple, clean and customizable launcher for your Android device, we’ve got you covered. Here’s a list of five great Google Now Launcher alternatives.
Action Launcher 3
Let’s start off with my personal favorite, Action Launcher.
This one has been a long-time favorite of the Android Authority team and its readers, and that’s for good reason. Action Launcher is one of the most customizable, unique launchers available in the Play Store.
So what makes it so special? Developer Chris Lacy has done a great job at bringing the look and feel of the new Pixel Launcher to this app, adding in some convenient features that make this launcher truly special. One of the most standout features of Action Launcher is Quicktheme, which allows you to theme your search bar, folders, and app drawers with the colors of your current wallpaper. The Covers feature lets you place an app of your choosing at the forefront of a folder, allowing you to gain quick access to your favorite apps while still taking advantage of folders on your home screen.
Action Launcher’s Quickbar lets you customize the look and feel of your Google search bar widget, and the Shutters feature lets you quickly gain access to an app’s widget with a simple swipe.
The developer is constantly releasing stable, frequent updates to the launcher too. Be sure to follow Chris Lacy on Google+ for news about updates.
If you’re looking for the most customizable Android launcher in the Play Store, you should definitely check out Nova Launcher.
Nova Launcher has been around for years, and it just keeps getting better. It features support for different icon packs, subgrid positioning on your home screen, a scrollable dock, widgets support in the dock, plenty of gestures, unread count badges, custom icon swipes, and a ton of other features. It also comes with a handy Night Mode option that allows you to automatically apply a dark theme to your search bar, app drawer, drawer icon and folders when the sun sets.
Oh, and it’s fast, too. Once you install this app and enable the “Nova” scroll speed, you’ll know what I’m talking about.
Just like Action Launcher, Nova Launcher receives a steady stream of big updates every month or so. For the most customizable experience around, you’ll definitely want to check this one out.
If you’re looking for something completely different from the other options on our list, ASAP Launcher might be for you.
It doesn’t give you the same ol’ home screen layout other third-party launchers offer by default. Instead, ASAP Launcher aims to give you the most information it can, spread out over five home screens. The first screen (pictured above) features a large search widget on the top, which gives you a quick glance at the weather and the music that’s currently playing on your device. A simple swipe up on the row of icons on the bottom of the screen will bring up a grid of your most-used applications, too.
The other four home screens give you quick access to your contacts, weather information, calendar and upcoming events, as well as a detailed to-do list. You can also swipe in from the right side to pull up a quick settings menu.
There are tons of themes to choose from too, including a Day/Night theme, as well as a theme based on your current wallpaper.
ASAP Launcher isn’t the most customizable launcher out there, but it’s definitely worth trying out. You can download it for free in the Google Play Store.
Evie Launcher is by far the simplest launcher on this list.
This launcher sort of flew under the radar when it was released in 2016, but that doesn’t mean it’s not a viable option. In fact, Evie Launcher has made a name for itself for its simplicity and customizability throughout the past year.
The Evie Launcher home screen is clean and easy to navigate. You’ll find a search bar at the top that can be quickly accessed by a swipe down anywhere on the home screen. This will allow you to search through your apps and contacts list, and even look up information on restaurants, movies, TV shows and more. And once you find what you’re looking for, you can simply press and hold that search result to add the shortcut to your home screen.
It also uses a Pixel Launcher-style app drawer, features a “no dock” mode, and the ability to change the grid size on your home screen.
The best part? Evie Launcher is free in the Google Play Store, which certainly helped the app make its way to our best Android apps of 2016 list.
ADW Launcher 2
Pretty much every aspect of this launcher has been rebuilt from the ground up. It’s been designed with Google’s Material Design guidelines in mind, features tons of customization options, plenty of unique widgets, and even the ability to create your own custom widget within the app.
Some of the latest features that have been added to ADW Launcher are a new Dynamic UI coloring theme, support for Android 7.1 launcher shortcuts, a new “wrap folder mode” (similar to Action Launcher’s Covers) and more. You really need to download this one for yourself to see all the customization options available here.
ADW Launcher 2 is available in the Play Store for free, with a one-time in-app purchase to upgrade to the Premium version for $3.49.
So, that’s our list of Google Now Launcher alternatives. Do you have any others you’d like to add? If so, be sure to speak up in the comments below!