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Flow Home Launcher aims for the social media crowd

Everyone approaches their home screen differently. Some like to set it and forget it, sometime not even deviating from the default layout that their phone came with. Some are constantly redoing their entire layout, belonging to theming communities where custom skins and elements are shared frequently and freely. Others have a basic layout that they'll tweak occasionally with new widgets and new themes. I am one such user.

And I am not quite who Flow Home was designed for — yet — but maybe you are.

Flow Home is very much a beta and is still evolving.

Flow Home is trying to break away from traditional launchers, but it's not after the same goals as home screen replacements like Aviate, which seek to rearrange your whole phone according to what's timely. No, Flow Home is selling itself as a home screen with one unchanging feed that draws the info out of your apps to display in it.

At this point in its beta, however, Flow Home really only pulls out information from five apps: Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Tumblr, and Feedly. Reddit is on its way, but for those of us who aren't active in these services, Flow Home is just kinda lifeless. Those of you who know me, know I'm very active in social media, but mostly on Google+. And the most integration for that you'll find here is in the notification card that'll pop up with new replies or mentions. It's not Flow's fault that Google+ doesn't have a simple method for integrating it, but it's still a shame.

The app drawer really flows... I'll see myself out.

That said, there are a few things that Flow Home does really well. It's a very material launcher in terms of feel and design, and it feels right at home with Lollipop, even on devices that don't have that yet. It's a phenomenally smooth launcher, especially in the app drawer, which is one of the smoothest app drawers I've ever seen. That said, it can't do much right now.

Settings are Holo and sparse

This is the entirety of Flow Home's settings: pick one of six themes, pick a custom header or profile image, left-handed layout, hidden apps, Wifi-only updating for those without unlimited data, and managing your feeds. The only other ways this launcher can be customized is by selecting which app the weather and date atop your header open, by adding apps to the shortcut on your homescreen, and by adding widgets.

Widgets. They ain't pretty or perfect, but they're finally here.

Widgets was just added yesterday, and while it is still very rough, it is a welcome addition in our eyes. For that one widget you just have to have — a music widget, or local radar — you can put it at the top of your feed. The bar under the widgets feels like a duplication, but you get another settings shortcut, a dedicated refresh button and a button to add more widgets. Currently, widgets cannot be re-sized or reordered, so be prepared to delete and re-add widgets in order to get them just right.

Shortcut folder will consume your screen if you let it.

This is the only folder you get, and if you use a lot of apps — even then this is still exceedingly limited for me, but I just didn't want to go nuts here — you're going to quickly lose the romance with that super-smooth app drawer while you're scrolling like a madman up and down looking for your maps or your tunes.

Flow Home in action. Colorful.

I've used Flow Home for two and a half days as my one and only launcher, and I will say the longer you use Flow, the more comfortable you become with it. However, the only benefit of Flow Home right now for me is that it forces me to keep up with Twitter and some — and only some — of my notifications when they pop up in my home screen feed. But as a heavy app user, I need folders. As a heavy Tasker user, I need shortcuts and gestures.

If you're someone who has given yourself over to tumblr — I'll never give in, I'd never get back out alive — or Instagram, then Flow Home is the launcher you've been waiting for: you'll never miss a Supernatural gif again. And if Google+ should ever grace them with a way to integrate our feed into Flow Home, I'll give it serious consideration.

Flow Home is still very much a beta app right now, and a somewhat closed one at that. If you would like to be part of making it better, invite codes are only given out on their Twitter feed and in their private Google+ beta testing community.

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.

  • It's always nice to be able to tweak stuff Posted via Android Central App
  • How do you get the google music widget on the home screen? Posted via the Android Central App
  • ^same question. Also, I don't see Feedly integration. "I'm da Blur boys!" - Me with 600 ping.
  • I noticed on twitter that the dev mentioned an update would be rolling out in a day or two containing widgets Posted via the Android Central App
  • Oh, cool cool. It's not a terrible launcher. If you aren't a huge power user it's quite manageable. Since I use 2 phones, and my android phone is used for the social aspect of things, this saves me opening a few apps actually. "I'm da Blur boys!" - Me with 600 ping.
  • The widgets were added with the build given out last night through the G+ beta group, and feedly integration is there but still a bit hinky.
  • Do you happen to know the build number? Lol, I'm not a patient person. "I'm da Blur boys!" - Me with 600 ping.
  • This maybe stupid, but can someone snag me an invite code for this? I don't use Twitter..... Shocking right? "I'm da Blur boys!" - Me with 600 ping.
  • BETA14 mate Posted via the Android Central App
  • Thank you "I'm da Blur boys!" - Me with 600 ping.
  • Thanks!
  • It's a copy of that annoying thing built into HTC Sense...and equally as stupid. Posted via the Android Central App
  • Blinkfeed isn't all that stupid. It may not be for you. But it's not stupid. Saves you on touches, and let's you know if it's even worth opening an app. Instead of "hey, let me see if there is anything interesting to read" you simply swipe left and Glace around. "I'm da Blur boys!" - Me with 600 ping.
  • how to google music widget on the home screen?
  • Nah, we mean on the launchers home screen. Idk why you posted a Bluestacks link. Spam maybe? Welp, I'm not here to tear your face off. "I'm da Blur boys!" - Me with 600 ping.
  • I can't find the beta community on Google + - any help-thanks Posted via the Android Central App
  • Found it - larva labs Posted via the Android Central App
  • I can never leave Nova launcher... For one thing, most of the launchers I try do not have an import feature so they get deleted right after that. I have 400 apps. I am not going to take the time to reorganize everything.
    Maybe I should try Nova prime.... I'll wait until I get google play gift card, then I'll try it out. Posted via Android Central App on 1+1
  • Try Aviate it has auto folder creation and is a very nice launcher Posted via the Android Central App
  • 400 on your 1+1? Or a tablet? And to be completely honest, maybe you don't need to use this launcher. It's been nearly a full 24 hours, and I'm still hitting the home button trying to close out of the "app" that is really my main screen. I like it, but it doesn't actually feel like it's a full launcher. I wish the feed was integrated into the side like blinkfeed, or Google now. "I'm da Blur boys!" - Me with 1200 ping. Yes. My Internet got worse.