Evie Launcher's update positions it as a perfect replacement to Google Now Launcher

One of the best launchers on the market has seen a surge of new users in the wake of Google Now Launcher's death — almost a million new users in just the last month — and it's not hard to see why. Evie Launcher is quick as a whip, offers just enough customization without overwhelming inexperienced Android users, and is 100% free. The launcher has been quiet for much of 2018, but the wait for a new update has been answered with Evie's biggest update in 18 months, an update that answers some of its users' biggest requests.

Gestures are 200% better, with room to grow

Evie Launcher has long had a few basic but beautifully effective gesture options — including swipe up to open the app drawer and double-tap to sleep. Other gestures were less effective; swiping down on the home screen didn't open the notification shade it instead opened Evie Search. Now, we can finally set what each of Evie Launcher's eight gestures to one of six Evie shortcuts available.

This has been the most-requested feature for Evie Launcher for a while, and it's wonderful to finally see it come. The only catch with Evie's gestures over those of Nova Launcher or Action Launcher is that Evie is missing one of the most popular gesture shortcuts on Android: the ability to launch an Android app or shortcut from a gesture — for example I use the two-finger swipe gestures on most launchers to connect and disconnect from the Bluetooth speaker in my bedroom.

Even without the ability to set apps as gesture actions, Evie Launcher's new gesture system is worlds better now that user can pick what each gesture does.

You can finally ditch Evie Search and its persistent search bar

Being able to switch the swipe down gesture from Evie Search to Expand Notifications — or any of the other gesture options — is a great start, but Evie Launcher is letting us ditch Evie Search entirely. That's right, my friends, you can kiss that persistent search bar goodbye and toggle it off in Evie's Homescreen settings section.

For an added bonus, if you want search in your Evie Launcher setup that ties into Google Assistant, set one of your desired gestures to Voice Search. This will trigger a Google Assistant voice search window. Please note that this is a voice search only; you cannot switch to keyboard input as you could if you triggered Google Assistant via long-press of the home button or "OK Google" hotword detection.

Stay informed with Evie Feed

As more and more people move to Evie Launcher from Google Now Launcher, its developers have chosen to add a Google Now-style news feed to the left-most panel of the home screen. It's called Evie Feed, and while it's not quite the Google feed that other launchers have added over the last year, it also doesn't require a non-Play Store plugin to work.

Evie Feed allows you to personalize its feed based on publications and topics you like. For instance, you can follow The New York Times — or you could follow Android Central — and you can follow Entertainment and Technology news, and Evie Feed will tweak your feed to suit your tastes. If you use Evie Launcher on multiple devices, Evie Feed will not sync between devices right now, as Evie Launcher does not collect any personally identifiable information.

Evie Feed in action

Still free, easy, and fast

Evie Launcher big update is rolling out to users today on Google Play, and with it is a reassurance that "Evie Launcher will remain 100% free, with our full set of features available to everyone."

Whether you've been an Evie user for a while or are still looking for a launcher that's simple without being limited, now is the perfect time to give Evie Launcher a fresh look. It lets you get things set up the way you want, and then gets out of the way to let you enjoy more of what you want on your Android phone.

Download Evie Launcher (free)

Ara Wagoner

Ara Wagoner was a staff writer at Android Central. She themes phones and pokes YouTube Music with a stick. When she's not writing about cases, Chromebooks, or customization, she's wandering around Walt Disney World. If you see her without headphones, RUN. You can follow her on Twitter at @arawagco.