One of the best things about Android is that the OS allows us to customize things that are built deep into the system. Things like keyboards, or the messaging application, or the home launcher. Using applications from the market, it's easy to make our Android phones look and feel like our Android phones. Before we got a little taste of Ice Cream Sandwich, a custom home launcher was a must for many a power user. But did that change with the stock Android launcher? It's the most customizable stock launcher yet, and for many the new folder system and launcher bar are just what the doctor ordered. For others, they need even more. And what about third party vendors, and their versions of Android? The TouchWiz launcher is pretty customizable, and the Sense launcher looks beautiful. Even Blur has come a long way and we don't have a lot bad to say about it any longer.

There's plenty of pros and cons either way, so which camp do you fall in? Let us know in tonight's poll.


Reader comments

Late-night poll: Do you use a third party launcher?


Yes and No. On my ICS devices, no: Stock is awesome. On my Gingerbread/Froyo devices, you bet your ass I use custom launchers! Go Launcher EX is my current daily driver, but I used LauncherPro for a good while with great results.

Exact same for me. Is it possible for Zeam launcher to incorporate ICS features? That's what I'm waiting for to start using it again. I miss full-screen toggle, but I want the resizeable widgets of ICS.

I switched to Nova Launcher on ICS. Everything that's great about the ICS launcher is there (it's based on the ICS launcher) with some great other features like scrolling dock, home screen transitions, etc.

Amen. Nova is AWESOME. Especially now that they have gone out of beta and the Prime version has gesture support. WooHoo!

I only use ADW EX. It is the only launcher that lets me remove the useless dock. I like having normal icons there, a full screen desktop. The stock ICS launcher is severely lacking in options. The useless dock, and the line takes up a third of the screen. The persistent search bar is the worst idea ever.

I tried to go stock with my new Galaxy S II but i just couldnt do it, im back to Go Launcher EX...I've tried AWD and LancherPro but I always find my way back to Go Launcher EX

AWD EX is just the best. I've tried using and liking the other but AWD always comes out on top. It gives me the right controls to use a launcher how I want to use it. The right grid, scrollable widgets, scrolling docbar, gestures (to launch Google gestures)



If I had known how easily and seamlessly a third party launcher replaces the stock one, I'd have changed from day 2.

_X_ stole my answer. I've tried pretty much all the launchers – with the exception of Nova – and just keep coming back to ADW EX. For me, it provides the most BANG visually and it's got the options I want. Curious about NOVA*, though.

*Ah. I see Nova requires Android 4.0. Well, I guess that saves me from a long, long night of geeking because I'm several versions behind.

Go Launcher Ex on Gingerbread, Apex launcher on ICS to avoid Sony (Ericsson) custom launcher...

Was using adw launcher ex i think when it went on sale and put that on my desire when i had that, tried various ones and found they just jittered too much and used too much space.

Stock on ICS at the moment, might try this nova thing since it'll bring back 'leap' view and transitions.

I hope they can import the screens you've set up in the stock launcher, i do hope..

No. Only one launcher is active at a time. Some drain more battery, like SPB shell, but some actually save battery, like Zeam.

Go Launcher. Curious though why a lot of people prefer Nova over Go? I don't see any reason to switch.

Still on GB on my Droid X, so rocking ADW EX. If I ever get a nice ICS ROM, I'll probably use either NOVA or the stock launcher (be it true stock or trebuchet, depending on the ROM)

I've used LauncherPro over for the past year instead of the Sense launcher on my EVO 4G. Sense is pretty and I like the full screen calendar widget but the dock is worthless. The LauncherPro dock combined with Apps Organizer lets much launch all of my primary apps straight from the dock. I also like the ability to hide unused apps in the app drawer and rename the long default app labels that cutoff on the home screen (which I find incredibly annoying).

I used Go Launcher EX for the longest time and I came across ssLauncher. Despite having ads in the config screens (on the free version), it's very unique and unlike anything else I've tried.

I'm with p1eric...I use LPP and Folder Organizer. Even though LPP hasn't been updated in a looonng time, it still suites my screen (Folder Organizer does the rest). Throw in Widget Locker and Wave Launcher...and I don't even have to see my home screen. Now that's making it YOUR device. Once I go to an ICS ROM on my EVO 4G, I'll check out NOVA.

Go Launcher for me on the Galaxy S2. Why? Because it's the only one that I can put folders in the app drawer and can organize the icons any way I want. Couldn't do that with ADW.

"Because it's the only one that I can put folders in the app drawer"

You need to check out the latest version of ADW then, as it does this and includes a scrollable dock.

Currently ADW Launcher on the SGS2. Got used to it from CM7 days, and if we're all honest, TouchWiz is just complete bobbins* in all its guises.

When the guys over at CyanogenMod get CM9 in the wild, I'll be all over Trebuchet.

*rubbish; not good; crappy.

Go Launcher ex is just so stable, so flexible and so easy that I can't swap away, the scrolling homescreen bar is genius, visual effects are just right. I've tried some of the others but quickly return to Go

Nexus S 4G is a fast home launcher, but man, is it limited. I use Go Launcher Ex, with no wallpaper, and other than an occasional pause, it never crashes on me. Makes customizing icons so much easier.

Using touchwiz on the GNote. I prefer things the way Google intended, but TWiz has some nice features and isn't too annoying so I don't mind it

I accidentally purchased ADW EX from the market (make sure you lock your screen before throwing in your pocket after previewing purchase apps) so I thought I would try it on my Droid X with a ICS theme. it was ok and I am all about landscape mode BUT for some reason it just didn't fit right. AND you can't have bluetooth and WIFI on at the same time.. FOR SHAME.. anyway I went back to stock but if anyone has any cool reasons why I should put it back, I'll listen.

Just installed and purchased Nova Prime, Wow. I did not think the ICS interface could get any better, I was wrong, Nova prime: Winner! Just the PERFECT amount of integration!

It has always been my experience that custom launchers add extra battery drain. To me, that's just not worth it. I have confirmed this on all of the newer GSII devices with Go Launcher.

Touchwiz really isn't that bad. There are little things I wish it would do, but I'll take the limitations over extra battery drain.

I have the AT&T version of the GS2 and have to take issue with that assertion about battery life and GoLauncher EX. I use that launcher, along with Battery Defender, on 2.3.6 and routinely get 30 hours of batter life with normal usage. Touchwiz with no battery tweaks was cutting the phone off after 9 hours or so. I did change a setting in wireless sleep policy to work with the Battery Defender (changed to never sleep from sleep when screen off) but that's it.

The main reason I use third-party launcher is 5x4 desktop grid.
Another reason is GO Locker, as it works good with GO Launcher EX

Go Locker FTW! The cheesy swipe entire screen of my GS2 had to go and the choices are awesome with this setup.

My preferences.
Go Launcher EX (best functionality, yes Ive used ADW ex and Launcherpro plus)
Sslauncher (for the sake of change)
Hi Launcher (same yet different)
SPB shell (I'm over it, eye candy with limitations)

Been using LauncherPro for the past year, but when my Razr Maxx arrives, maybe I'll try something new. It just needs to have the scrollable dock.

On my Droid 1, I did all the time as the custom Launchers were smoother with screen transitions than the stock one. On my Galaxy Nexus, no, it's fast enough as it is to allow a smoother experience.

I've used both ADW Ex as well as Go Launcher Ex, and love both. Currently running Nils Gingersense on my Dinc, and since I'm a Sense fanboy (dodges evil stares), I might stay with that for awhile. But I did like the gestures of ADW Ex, and not having to load a bunch of other apps just to get a widget that would work with the launcher.

ADW is what I am using right now on my RAZR, but I've only been on it for a couple of hours. I really liked it on my Charge, but I usually used Zeam. I think I'm going to stick to ADW until the ICS release for the RAZR. I'm on the Droid X theme right now, looks great.
GO uses too much battery and RAM for me. While it does have the most themes and customization options, all of the things I use are available on ADW with less power and memory consumption.
Zeam and Nemus are both great for devices with lower amounts of memory. I ran both on my Charge without any problems. I prefer the Nemus dock bar, but Zeam gives the option of hiding icon texts, which is one of my favorite parts about the launchers.
Launcher Pro, while decent, was abandoned a long time ago, so I didn't bother to test it as thoroughly as I should have.
When ICS comes out, I will definitely be testing Nova and Apex. I haven't had a chance to fiddle with either one yet. And of course I'll give the stock ICS a shot, too.
Eclipse 1.3 for the RAZR came with the Eclipse launcher, which is better than stock. If it had the option to hide icon text, I would probably just use it instead of a third-party launcher.
TouchWiz on the Charge did not let me customize as much as I wanted to. The stock RAZR UI is better than TouchWiz, but as I mentioned, I like hiding the icon text on my home screens, and that wasn't an option. While I would never have stuck with TouchWiz, I did consider sticking with the Moto UI, but the benefits of Eclipse 1.3 were just too great to pass up.