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The first time we took a look at Nova Launcher, I could only pine away for the day I'd actually have a phone that could run it. Finally that time has come, so after consulting the Google+ populace to make sure I was making the right choice, I installed Nova Launcher and upgraded to the full, Prime-laden version. Let me tell ya, it was so worth it.

If Nova Launcher by itself is a completely superior launcher to the stock Ice Cream Sandwich launcher (and it is), Nova Launcher Prime takes it up to 11. When you upgrade to Prime you unlock swiping gestures for your phone, app hiding in your app drawer, dock swiping, and a whole host of cool scrolling effects.

Nova Launcher by itself is unbelievably awesome because it's so darn fast. Scrolling is fast, menus are fast, screen previews are fast. It's like the Speedy Gonzales of Ice Cream Sandwich launchers. And on my Galaxy Nexus, Nova Launcher Prime absolutely screams.

Nova Launcher Prime is also incredibly customizable. You can change how many homescreens you have, change the amount of icons on the dock, change the screen transitions, the folder background shape, how many docks you have, well, the list goes on and on. If you're a bit OCD about how your launcher operates (or just about what size your grid is), Nova Launcher will help you keep everything in check.

Last but not least, there's also a backup and restore function included, so in the event you lose everything (or get a new phone or do a ROM wipe or something), you can easily restore all of your settings that you so painstakingly put together once and save yourself both the heartache and time. It might seem like a small thing, but once you restore a launcher once, you'll wonder why you ever bothered to manually set one up again.

My final verdict? Nova Launcher Prime is the real deal. It's easily the best launcher for Ice Cream Sandwich that's out right now, and if you're rocking a phone with Android 4.0, at the very least, Nova Launcher (free) should be installed. It's that good. TeslaCoil Software knows how to produce great Android apps, and with Nova Launcher, they've kept their streak going.

Nova Launcher Prime is $4 in the Android Market Google Play Store. We've got download links after the break.

 
There are 33 comments

wingnut89 says:

The Name is "Play Store" accepted it!!!

lionsson says:

I found an amazing launcher. It blow nova hand down.
Apex launcher
https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.anddoes.launcher

wingnut89 says:

I have tested but i like nova more

Lanhoj says:

I have Apex as well, but Nova launcher Prime IMO is much better.

Isn't denial a river in Egypt?

Fahrenheit says:

The latest update to Nova Launcher seemed to speed it up a bit. Definitely worth it to install, just to get rid of the persistent Search bar.

StefanYFC says:

You should give Apex a try, Josh. I use Nova because of AOKP but I installed Apex last night on my friends GNex and it's awesome as well.

interpol91 says:

Apex is definitely just as good and offers basically the same features as Nova Launcher Prime but for free. Hopefully Kevin adds more features soon to the prime version to justify paying $4 for something I can get for free.

kkhanmd says:

I used the free version for few hours, then switched back to stock.

I used "go launcher ex". it's free. It does everything this paid version of nova does plus more. It's fast, has a ton of customization's to it and did i mention free? Nova just isn't worth the asking price when other launchers have it's features for free.

BBSeattle says:

Same here, big fan of Go Launcher.
Read the article and it sounded like Go Launcher was being described.
GL does everything mentioned and more.....for free.

GeekMcLeod says:

I've used the launcher as well. Love Nova Prime a lot more. I love the stock launcher but love everything that Nova does. I just wish Nova launcher had some of the scroll effects that the go launcher has. Mainly the sphere one. I also loved all the themes available but used up quite a bit more ram than I wanted.

Gimik says:

I've tried both and went with Apex launcher. More features and seems smoother (Vzn GNex)

Spaniard85 says:

Used Nova since it was in beta. Paid for the Prime version, but found out about Apex shortly after. They both are great, but I've stuck with Apex lately purely based on the "tablet" homescreen and app drawer transition. :-P

kennonk says:

It would be nice to get a comparison review vs something like ADW EX. All the features mentioned here have been around for ages on other launchers. What does Nova Launcher bring to the table that is an upgrade to the latest versions of the launchers we have been using for years? If you don't already own the premium version of one of the more established launchers why would you choose Nova over something more established and mature?

uansari1 says:

How about the fact that Apex and Nova are both based on ICS' launcher? The others are still based on Gingerbread/Eclair launcher, no?

kennonk says:

I think to say a launcher is based on a particular version of the OS that is predominate at the time of it's release is kind of misleading. I've been using Launcher Pro and ADW for years through several versions of Android and they update and change with the times. Often times "new" launchers duplicate features that have been in use on older launchers and when something new and exciting is released the older launchers are updated to match those features. I guess what I was asking is...is there anything feature-wise in Nova that would make it worth switching if you already own a maintained and up to date paid launcher app? Any new killer features because the ones outlined in the review have all been in ADW EX since the last couple updates. I am not knocking Nova by any means.

Fahrenheit says:

Yes. ;-)

izzyncade says:

Beat me to it....lol

I also like to know what the difference is. I would like an honest comparison of the two without negative remarks… is that possible?

mkurz12 says:

Been using the free Nova Launcher for a few days now. Plan to give it a week or 2 then try Apex. Happy with Nova so far though. Don't really see the need to upgrade to the paid version but if I choose to stick with it i most likely will simply to support the devs work. Did try skinning.icons by downloading ADW theme's or icon packs. Skinning them worked fine but dound some.of the icons I skinned would not open after a few hours. Deleted the theme and they worked fine again.

groovin says:

What's the name of that clock widget? I've been looking for something just like it.

Joshua Munoz says:

Beautiful Widgets with Vanilla ICS skin on it.

zk0sn1 says:

Maybe I'm not getting it, but if they are re-using most of Google's already fast launcher source code, why praise the launcher devs for maintaining that aspect?

I use the free version of Nova and definitely appreciate the "value add" the devs provide, but if it was not as fast as stock I'd dump it.

ltredbeard says:

i wish there was an option to scroll vertical instead of horizontal in the app drawer

Jezz_X says:

Apex launcher has that in the last 2 or 3 versions

tjhop4292 says:

Apex launcher can do that =)

It was actually one of the reasons I chose to stay with Apex over Nova. I definitely feel Apex is the best compromise between having a launcher based on ICS, while also having the extensive customization of established launches like ADW EX (which was my launcher of choice on my droid X).

Hey Josh or anyone who can answer thus: does either version restore full functionality to the long press menu on the home screen ? Thanks

carraser891 says:

do u need to be rooted to use this?

tjhop4292 says:

If you want widgets in the app drawer like the stock launcher then yes. Otherwise just long press like older versions of android/other launchers.

Flyer00 says:

I like the added features of Nova, but stopped using it because it takes much longer to redraw your desktop when you tap the home button. I have a lot of widgets and icons and the stock launch always redraws the desktop very quickly. Nova takes noticeably longer and it just bugs me. Hopefully they'll improve that in future updates.

May have to try this over the weekend when i have some time to mess with it.

Whats that clock/weather widget on the main screen you have? Looks good!

drathos says:

Looks like Beautiful Widgets (Super Clock with one of the Roboto/ICS themes).

Joshua Munoz says:

Beautiful Widgets with Vanilla ICS skin on it.