KitKat makes it easier to swap or uninstall custom launchers

Many of us enjoy using custom home screen launchers on our Android phones, but the process of switching between them has never been entirely foolproof. That's changed in the latest Android 4.4 KitKat, which introduces a new top-level menu in the Settings app allowing you to select your default launcher. That means you don't have to traipse into the Apps menu, find your custom launcher, then clear its defaults to change back. The new Home menu also gives you an easy way to uninstall custom launchers, by pressing the trash icon next to it.

Check out our video above for a quick walkthrough on the Nexus 5.

 
There are 41 comments

Jonneh says:

This makes it actually user-friendly for once. New users will finally be that much closer to understanding how Launchers work/what the benefits are of using different ones. If they want to.

TenshiNo says:

Agreed. *Many* Android users that I've talked to don't even realize that you *can* use a different launcher. I've shown so many people who are much happier with their phones once they realize they can get rid of the stock launcher (from whichever OEM) that has "features" they don't like.

Good to see Google is putting this functionality more front-and-center.

dbash1 says:

As an iPhone user waiting for his first Android device to be delivered, can you tell me what a custom launcher does?

Mike Cerm says:

There a lot of different launchers to choose from and each has different features. They let you change the look, feel, and functionality of the home screen. They all let you customize in ways that the "stock" launcher doesn't. You can customize icons, enable various gestures, fit more apps on a single page, hide icons for apps that you don't want to see (but might not want to remove entirely), and more, depending on the launcher you choose.

joeythehobo says:

Mike's reply is very informative, but I just want to add a little lower detail, just in case. When you press your home button, on whichever Android device you're using, the launcher is the app that handles that button press and displays a "Home".

If you want to try extending the base Android launcher try (My favorite): https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.teslacoilsw.launcher

If you want to try something with a lot of themes and interesting design, try:
https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.gau.go.launcherex

Good luck and have fun with your first Android device!

etnpnys says:

A "launcher" is basically how you interact with your phone when you *don't* have an app open. It's how your icons are arranged, how your widgets get to you, how you find your apps, and how everything is displayed to you.

Unlike Apple's "fenced-in" approach, you can change all of this on Android. Welcome to customization.

dbash1 says:

Thanks for the explanation, guys!

franquellim says:

My understanding is that the launcher is responsible for your general user experience. Your launcher dictates what features are available in settings, what functions you can tweak and what you can't, how your app drawer is laid out, etc. Someone with a deeper understanding can go into details, but I think that is the basic purpose. It would be like (I think), jailbreaking your iPhone and using Winterboard to change the look/feel of it.

RedLux says:

4.4 seems to bring in many new and useful features including this, overall a very good update.

Posted with my Moto X

codiusprime says:

Seems this update has some very nice usability improvements. Glad to see Google trying to make these features that make Android great easier to use.

Gekko says:

why is the bottom button bar area not transparent in the stock Kit Kat Launcher?

crispybbq says:

I guess it's just a matter of developers taking advantage of the feature, if it is indeed available to third parties.

Gekko says:

Developers? i'm talking about the home screen of the stock launcher. i think it might just be that it's slightly shaded transparent but in Alex's video it looks darker than what it is.

Mike Cerm says:

Maybe it is, and it just appears too dark in the video because of the wallpaper he's using. Or maybe it's just a bug. I used to have a Droid Razr M, and one feature of Motorola's "skin" was that the top and bottom bars were translucent... except that it never worked right. Anytime you launched an app, they'd turn black. Then, when you'd exit to the home screen, they'd still be black. Maybe they stayed black because of some app or service running in the background.

crispybbq says:

Interesting... the toasts are all round-like.

TenshiNo says:

Interesting. I *believe* the toast notifications have had rounded corners since 4.0 (at least on Samsung phones) but those are definitely more rounded with more padding. Makes them much more apparent and harder to "miss".

joeythehobo says:

Those are way too round...

elvis692 says:

The LG G2 does this already!

MERCDROID says:

Your G2 has kitkat? No way!!!

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rampage1979 says:

No but Lg has had this on there phones for a while and its cool to see Google baking it into the core.

Posted via Android Central App

This is pretty cool. Can't wait for the update!

Gekko says:

i hope that Nova Launcher works flawlessly on Kit Kat. i would use the stock Kit Kat Launcher but i despise that Persistent Google Search Bar and i need to free up that real estate!

Kyle Firmino says:

It works perfectly. Only thing it doesn't do is swipe to the left to get Google Now and transparent nav and status bar.

cheidt76 says:

That's one feature that I like on my LG Optimus Vu p895: it has a 'Home screen' section in settings, where I can select things like what launcher I want to use, what theme, animations, wallpapers, etc that I want. It definitely makes it easier switching between the 5-6 launchers that I can't decide between...!

Taz89 says:

Guess it shows Google realises how important 3rd party launchers are apart of the Android experience

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dammy_obamo says:

Yeah you got that right!

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barondebxl says:

Very convenient. It was a pain in the a$s before

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mao mao says:

Alex, how does Action Launcher work with the new implementation of Google Now? Action Launcher comes in from the left, just like the new Google now.

vansmack says:

I wonder if this means Google is going to make their launcher available in the Play Store for those that don't get it when they buy an OEM phone?

On2Vegas says:

Great that they implemented this in the stock launcher. I wish it were a little quicker to get to, like a long-press, but that is still a nice option to have.

Dr. Triffid says:

I can see this feature being buried in the OEM builds.

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rampage1979 says:

Nope Lg has it set the same way as Google it is really use full when you have several launchers that you switch to.

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Marc11218 says:

What is the best launcher to use for the Nexus 7?

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bumpandrun says:

Nice!!

OffKilter says:

Great! Pretty awesome of Google to make it easy like this. I'll try stock 4.4 launcher for a while when I get my N5, but if Google Now being a left swipe and the Google search bar at the top of the screen bother me I'll use Nova launcher.

H_Wordsmythe says:

It doesn't appear to offer anything more than Homesmack can already do, but it is nice that they've integrated it into the OS.

nupicasso says:

I've noticed that in the some of the walk through videos of kitkat roms as well as nexus 5 walk throughs, that "Home" setting is missing as they scroll through settings. Anyone else notice this?

rampage1979 says:

Probably only shows up after a 2nd launcher is installed.

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rampage1979 says:

Lg has had this option since the Optimus G , makes it super easy to jump to other launchers cool to see Google implementing it to the core.

Posted via Android Central App

Ok. Done for my Nexus.

Vic Jones says:

Hey anybody here to help me please . I have moto g US version I don't know what happens but there is no home settings anymore in settings of my phone . please help