For the most customization, slickest features and latest Google design influences, Action Launcher 3 is the best launcher available.

Andrew Martonik Andrew has been a mobile enthusiast since the Windows Mobile days, and covering all things Android-related with a unique perspective at Android Central since 2012. For suggestions and updates, you can reach him at andrew.martonik@androidcentral.com or on Twitter at @andrewmartonik.

Best overall

Action Launcher 3

Action Launcher

See at Google Play

Action Launcher brings a ton of thoughtful features plus lots of additional tweaks that you expect from a custom launcher. Replace the traditional app drawer with a slide-in Quickdrawer, maximize on-screen real estate with Shutters and tweak the home screen search bar with the customizable Quickbar. Beyond that, Action Launcher also offers theming options, suggestions for app icon replacements and a beta feature to normalize icon sizes.

At the same time, Action Launcher regularly incorporates the latest design and features from Google's own launcher, meaning you don't have to loose that Google feel when you get all of these extra features. For example those using Action Launcher on Android 7.1 today can already access to new app shortcut features from the home screen.

The best features of Action Launcher 3 require a paid upgrade to the Plus version, but it's worth every penny.

Bottom line: If you're feeling bored with your phone's launcher and want a feature-packed replacement, Action Launcher has you covered.

One more thing: You don't have to pay for Action Launcher's Plus features, but you really should if you plan to use it full-time.

Why Action Launcher 3 is the best

A super powerful launcher with plenty of slick customization options.

Action Launcher can be as simple or as feature-packed as you want it to be, depending on how you set it up. All of the tools are there to keep your home screens looking minimalistic while providing tons of features and options to make the most of the available space. Shutters and Quickcuts turn your app icons into so much more, while the customizable Quickbar takes what other launchers use as dead space and turns it into exactly what you want.

If you want co change the entire theme of your phone but don't want to fiddle around finding all of the pieces yourself, Action Launcher's theme engine helps you customize things so it all looks neat and tidy — including custom app icons — without all of the legwork. But if you don't mess with themes, you know you're getting a great Material Design look with inspiration from the latest Pixel phones, even if you haven't updated to Nougat just yet.

For just $4.99 you can unlock all of Action Launcher 3's features, and you really should give it a look if your current launcher is leaving a bit to be desired.

Best clean look

Google Now Launcher

Google Now Launcher

See at Google Play

If you want the clean, simple home screen experience just as Google intended, you'll want to use the Google Now Launcher. This is the launcher that's pre-installed on Nexus phones, and it's all about giving you a basic but extremely quick experience with access to your apps and widgets — and of course Google Now is just a single swipe away.

You don't get advanced options for extra gestures or themes, but some people prefer a simple layout and Google Now Launcher absolutely delivers in that respect. It's updated regularly by Google as well, though the future is uncertain with the Pixel phones now shipping with their own different launcher.

Bottom line: Use the Google Now launcher if you're looking for high stability and a consistent Android experience. Pair it with the Google Keyboard for the full experience.

One more thing: Things are a bit in flux right now in terms of the launcher on Nexuses versus Pixels — this launcher may soon take on a new look in the future.

Best to customize

Nova Launcher

Nova Launcher

See at Google Play

Nova is a massively popular launcher that offers a whole bunch of animation options, folder views and home screen behaviors. One particularly cool addition is swipe actions, which allow app icons to act as a folder with a swipe, or a standard app launch with a tap, similar to Action Launcher's feature.

Theming Nova with custom icons and custom wallpapers is easy, especially with the Google Drive integration. You can back up your Nova layouts and themes directly to the cloud service of your choice, and restore backups directly from the cloud, too, which can make setting up a new phone a great deal easier than putting everything back how you like it manually.

Nova is a highly functional launcher that can be as subtle or as loud as you like, making it completely unique if you spend the time tweaking it.

Bottom line: If you're willing to tweak things a bit, and are going for an exact look, Nova Launcher could be the one for you.

One more thing: Consider the $4.99 in-app purchase to unlock its more advanced features with the "Prime" upgrade.

Conclusion

Home Screen launchers are heavily influenced by personal taste, and while not everyone wants the same things from their launcher the robust feature set of Action Launcher can be the best choice for most people. It offers great features, lots of customization choices and integrates the latest design guidelines from Google.

Best overall

Action Launcher 3

Action Launcher

See at Google Play

Action Launcher brings a ton of thoughtful features plus tons of additional tweaks that you expect from a custom launcher. Replace the traditional app drawer with a slide-in Quickdrawer, maximize on-screen real estate with Shutters and tweak the home screen search bar with the customizable Quickbar. Beyond that, Action Launcher also offers theming options, suggestions for app icon replacements and a beta feature to normalize icon sizes.

At the same time, Action Launcher regularly incorporates the latest design and features from Google's own launcher, meaning you don't have to loose that Google feel when you get all of these extra features. For example those using Action Launcher on Android 7.1 today can already access to new app shortcut features from the home screen.

The best features of Action Launcher 3 require a paid upgrade to the Plus version, but it's worth every penny.

Bottom line: If you're feeling bored with your phone's launcher and want a feature-packed replacement, Action Launcher has you covered.

One more thing: You don't have to pay for Action Launcher's Plus features, but you really should if you plan to use it full-time.