Action Launcher Shutters

Tablets also get some attention, along with a number of other fixes

Every now and then you run into a cool system-level Android app that does some really interesting stuff -- and does it well. Action Launcher is one such application. From Aussie developer Chris Lacy, Action Launcher, erm, launched in October 2012 and shifted the usual Android launcher paradigm -- the home screens for app icons, folders and widgets, and a separate app drawer full of icons -- to a far-left (and extremely speedy) list view for apps. 

An update in December brought forth Covers -- sort of uber-folders that added a slick new bit of functionality to the application.

And now, we have Shutters, available in an update today along with a slew of new features and fixes.

In a nutshell, Shutters are widgets launched by swiping on the corresponding app icon. Instead of a widget taking up all or most of a home screen, it stays hidden in the app icon until you swipe on it. You get a pop-up question to make sure you're cool with that and then the widget appears.

Action Launcher Shutters

The plus is that you save on screen real estate this way. No more needing a whole home screen -- and no more swiping over to it -- to get to that full-screen widget you need a few times a day. The down side is that we've found a couple widgets that aren't playing nicely on the first try. Google+ and the camera app take some patience for the widget to populate, and you might need to try opening it a second time. 

Other improvements to Action Launcher include:

  • Landscape mode on by default for tablets (including the Nexus 7)
  • Proper Nexus 10 support
  • Much-improved app stability
  • Easier to open the app list with a left swipe when not on the left home screen
  • And a whole bunch more

Check out Lacy's tutorial here, and be sure to hit the Google Play icon at the top of this post to give it a whirl.