In the vast world of third-party Android launchers, it's hard to cut through the pack and make an impression.
Evie Launcher, at first glance, looks like another easy-to-use launcher for those who just want to zip through their home screens and app drawer. Below that simple surface are a few features to help spice things up — but not every trick is perfectly pulled off.
Evie Launcher's default setup is breathtakingly simple, featuring only four apps at the bottom of the desktop and one search bar at the top. Yes, I did mean desktop for those four apps because by default, Evie Launcher keeps the dock turned off, which definitely sets it apart from the pack, though not necessarily in a good way. We'll come back to that in a bit.
Another break with tradition that comes off in a good way is Evie's default grid size. While 4x4 has been the standard since the 4-inch phone days, Evie Launcher has a default desktop of 5x6 and is willing to take on any grid size from 3x4 to 12x12 (if you're looking to use it on a tablet). Especially with extra tall screens on new flagships like the LG G6 and the Samsung Galaxy S8, having a wide array of grid sizes is important, as you're going to want a few more rows to take advantage of that real estate — or at least empty rows at the top to keep things square.
The search bar is a permanent part of the Evie Launcher home screen, and it features one of the two gestures that are permanently turned on: swipe down to search. This is great if you use search a lot, but I don't, and more importantly, I seem to set it off every time I try to swipe down the notification shade. I wish there was a toggle to switch this gesture from the search bar to the notification shade — especially on those extra tall screens I mentioned before — but for now, it's a constant reminder that "hey, you can search for stuff". It's cool, Evie, but I just wanna see who texted me!
The other permanent gesture fits in with the Galaxy S8 and the Google Pixel: swipe up to open the app drawer. The animation is almost too quick, and the app drawer has two modes: list and grid. Unlike the home screen, the app drawer's grid view is locked in at 4 columns, which means you'll be doing a bit more scrolling, but at least you have quick scroll available using the alphabet on the right side of the screen.
Getting back into Evie's settings, you have a bit more customization here than most light, speed-oriented launchers. Beyond setting an icon pack and adjusting your app drawer grid, you can turn back on our dock, unread badges, and turn on a few extra gestures. More robust gesture controls are "coming soon", but for now, there's one gesture here I highly appreciate and recommend turning on: double tap to lock. There are even two methods you can choose from — just like Nova Launcher and Action Launcher — a method that actually locks the phone and a method that just times out the screen in order to keep your phone unlocked via trusted devices/places.
Once you're set up, Evie is a zippy little launcher that's easy to get used to and flexible enough to sate most non-theming users, but getting set up can be a bit perilous. When you first set up Evie Launcher, it asks you if you'd like to import your layout from another launcher, but because Evie keeps the dock turned off by default, your dock might not get brought over with the rest of your home screen elements.
It's still a fairly young launcher, but it's showing promise, especially for users who will be left wanting when Google Now Launcher is pulled from Google Play soon. While I wish Evie Launcher kept its dock on by default and that the search bar wasn't quite as required on the home screen, at least I can turn on the dock in settings. Once more robust gesture controls come to Evie, it should be quite the apt competitor in a crowded launcher market, but it's no slouch right now.