Action Launcher for Android

We brought you the first look at developer Chris Lacy's "Action Launcher" a couple of months ago, and today we're happy to announce that it's now available in the Google Play Store for $3.99. (Actually, that's in Google Play is a "Pro" unlock code -- you'll download the launcher itself from within the app after you purchase.)

The basic premise, as you'll recall from our Action Launcher preview, is that the idea of the app drawer is just too slow. In Action Launcher, the drawer is moved to a list view, and the "main" home screen shifts to the far left. So all you have to do to open it is slide left once more. (Or hit the apps button in the top left, or your home button from the home screen.) From there you've got a an easy list of your apps. And new from our preview version are letter shortcuts, so you don't have to scroll all the way through the list.

Also customized is how you add widgets, apps and wallpapers -- all in one place, just long-press on the home screen.

But that's still not the really cool part.

Lacy had teased some sort of super secret feature, and now we've got it. He's added "Covers" to the way folders work on your home screen. Drag one app onto another, and you'll create a folders. But note the three little dots that point to menu options. This is where you can choose to change a folder to a "Cover." Once you do that, the first app in the folder becomes the Cover's main icon. Tap once to launch that app. Double tap to open the cover, and now you see the contents therein. 

In Lacy's example in his promo video above, he's got direct dial shortcuts in the Phone cover. Tap once to open the phone app. But double tap, and you've got speed dial. Very cool. Another example is using browser bookmarks. Think of it like parent icons, with children inside the Covers. Chrome is the parent, bookmarks are the children.

Action Launcher. Action Launcher.

If you're using Covers like folders, setup is pretty simple. Drag apps and go. Setting up bookmarks and speed dials are a little more tedious to do. But once they're there, they're going to speed up your usage significantly. (And word on the street is this may seem some improvements in future versions.)

You've got a fair amount of settings available as well. (Depending on which phone you have, Action Launchers settings are accessible from an overflow menu at the top right, or by hitting your menu button and choosing settings from there.) You can have a single home screen, or as many as seven. You can choose the Holo Dark theme, or user your own wallpaper. Don't want the home button to open the app drawer? You can turn it all.

As we noted in our preview, Action Launcher is a fresh take on what's become a bit of a a crowded corner of Android customization. There's no shortage of launchers out there, and they've had to differentiate on features rather than design or overall function. Action Launcher brings something new to the table, and it's definitely worth a look.


Reader comments

Action Launcher now available - improves on folders with 'Covers'


free option would be cool, but what the hell, i really like Lacy's work and this looks AWESOME. downloading immediately!

The description says it automatically imports your previous launcher's configuration. How did that work for you?

I have high hopes for this launcher, but I'll let this one mature and also see how Lacy does with updates. Fairly or not, he's taken criticism for abandoning Tweet Lanes. (I say "fairly or not", because while it's true he abandoned it, I ultimately blame Twitter itself for his actions and the actions of other Twitter client developers.)

It moved over the folders but none of the widgets. Its different... So far I like it though. Good work!

I've purchased ADW LauncherEX, Nova Launcher, Apex Launcher Pro, and one other that I can't remember right now. I'm gonna have to sit this one out. It looks nice but I just can't buy another launcher right now.

I have all three of those as well and I've found that Apex launcher works the best for me. Apex and Nova are fairly similar, but I found that Apex worked better on my older Desire Z - Nova was choppier and force closed on me every once in a while. I just got my Nexus 4, so I'm jumping back and forth between Apex and Nova to decide which one I'll be using going forward. Nova has improved a lot since the last time I tried it.

Between Apex and Nova, I chose Nova. I am extremely picky with the way my home screen looks. The dock icons on Apex were not entirely centered vertically. Nova was. On my Sprint Galaxy S3, Nova also just appeared to flow better than Apex. (both paid versions so all features unlocked)

Action Launcher is very different. A welcome change from the traditional launchers, but it is lacking far behind Apex and Nova. No dock or home screen customization (other than what the stock launcher provides). The real appeal to Action Launcher Pro is the covers. Even those need work. Single pressing to launch the cover app is much slower than just launching a non cover app.

With NO notice of this launcher being in beta until after purchase and seeing the launcher itself download from within the app I paid for, I cut the developer some slack. I would imagine many of the missing features would come in future updates. I also expect Apex, Nova and maybe others to implement their own version of covers as well.

Looks great! Functions amazing! Having some issues setting up some widgets though. Even creating folders seems a bit cranky. But overall, REALLY like it!

Agreed, like it but having a hard time adding widgets or shortcuts...they vanish into thin air. I'm running CM10 on a GS3. Anybody have any tips or find a setting in not seeing?

Looks great, but it's already frozen 2-3 times on my Galaxy Nexus. Of course I'm past the 15 minute refund window so it looks like I'm stuck with a lemon. Widgets and Wallpapers are incredibly wonky.

I really like the idea

Tho most launchers i purchased died (adw came back from the grave tho :P)

Too bad there is no free trial/lite version :P

Will eventually try it

Yes, this seems like it is for Jelly Bean, not ICS. Widgets are broken badly on ICS but I will try it on Jelly Bean on my N7 shortly. The double tap required to open a group under a cover has to be lightening fast to work. This needs to be adjusted or, even better, an option provided to manually adjust the double-tap speed required. Actually this software feels more alpha than beta and, as a result, is a bit expensive considering the current stage of development. I don't mind helping a new app to get started but people really need to be made aware of the development stage of this software right up front.

UPDATE: Widgets do seem to work better on Jelly Bean. At least placing them on screens works much better. I like the idea of this launcher but it is very immature right now. With hope I will be looking forward to tremendous growth in the app though. Since it is in beta, the dev needs to provide a place for reporting..perhaps within the app itself.

I would be willing to give a free version of this a try, but since I'm completely satisfied with Nova Launcher Prime, I see no need to shell out $4 to try something I might not even prefer.

if the play store says "This app is compatible with all (or some) of your devices." in a green box on the left and side... and you CAN download it, it is compatible with your device.

This looks nice, but like others I'm pretty happy with Nova Prime.

One missing feature that might get me looking at other launchers would be automatic app folders, based on apps' market categories, in the app drawer, but AFAIK nobody is doing that.

Um, it looks like if you purchase the app, download the launcher then get a refund through the play store the app still works. This seems like a pretty big oversight and should probably be fixed if possible.

1. Download the app installer from the Play Store.
2. Download the app.
3. Get a refund for the app installer.
4. Profit!

He clearly didn't think that one through! If he loses money like that, it's his own darn fault for making it a two-step process.

On the actual launcher:
1. Home screens can't wrap around. I'd be fine opening the app drawer with just the home button if that allowed me to go full circle through my home screens.
2. Some widgets can't be added, including the Google Play Music widget.
3. The implementation of the app drawer is a nice original feature, but why can't I add apps to the home screen from it?
4. On a similar note, the widget-adding mechanism is, IMO, poorly designed. You can have a bigger view of the widgets if you make it full screen.
5. No custom transition animations. I'll give Lacy a pass on that one, though, since it's still a beta and the first release.

All this adds up to the conclusion that I'll save my money and stick with Apex for now.

I actually really like the concept but not the security model of this app.

Why is the app not published in the Play Store? (Thus bypassing Google's security filters, right?)

Why are the permissions listed in the Play Store completely different from the application's real requirements?
(I understand why this is, but do not appreciate lack of disclosure in the Play Store description.)

Is it really necessary for the launcher to have the network permission? I know Nova requests it.
I think this is all benign and once this leaves beta (at least, based on the apk's name) this will become a normal app.
Until then, I'll stick to my Nova.

I was really waiting for this app since Phil teased it a few months back. It finally gets released when I am between phones! LOL. Oh well my Nexus 4 should get to me in the next few days so will install then.

Back to the app. This is a really interesting concept but I will reserve the right for future comments/feedback once I have played with it a bit.

I'm sorry but this launcher sucks. Which is sad because Chris is awesome, he needed to wait till this was more . . . . well more.