Skip to main content

Launcher 10 brings a dash of Windows Phone to Android

The dream of a Windows-powered smartphone is effectively over, leaving some holdovers to make the decision to jump to either iOS or Android. I'm of the opinion that Android is by far the better option in this case, owing to the customizability of the OS for things like replacing the default smart assistant with Cortana, the default browser with Edge, and so on. But if you yearn for a more "Windows 10-like" experience, there are options out there.

You can customize Android with home launchers, allowing you to tailor the functionality of the home screen to your desire. Some of them add special features and other improvements over Android's default home screen, bringing customizable app drawers, widgets, and other functionality. Redmond produces a very robust launcher, dubbed the Microsoft Launcher. However, I'm not a fan. It's just not as sexy as Windows 10 Mobile was. It's all business and no style, which is fine if that's what you're looking for, but I simply wanted something more.

Say hello to Launcher 10 (opens in new tab), one of the Android home screen options I've been using regularly. It's the closest thing you can get to a real Windows Phone experience on Android today.

Features with feeling

Launcher 10 brings the Windows 10 Mobile home screen experience to Android as faithfully as possible given the restrictions imposed by the OS. Of course, you're not going to get rich picture Live tiles for the vast majority of apps, but Launcher 10's developers cleverly emulated the feel of Windows 10 Mobile where possible.

You can pin apps as tiles on Launcher 10, and with a modest in-app purchase, you can unlock the ability to display notification text and counts directly on the tiles, which very closely mimics the functionality found in many Windows 10 Mobile apps, such as Twitter and Outlook.

The home screen works exactly as you'd expect coming in from Windows Phone.

Additionally, some of the system apps, like Photos and Contacts, come with custom tile experiences that pull information from those apps to create a more Windows-like experience. The Photos tile, for example, will cycle through recent images, and the Contacts tile shows off that familiar scrolling display picture collage.

As for customization, the home screen works exactly as you'd expect coming in from Windows Phone.You can long press to change the position and size of a tile or unpin it completely. Swipe right to access the app list, and then long press to pin apps to the home screen. You can even drag tiles on top of each other to create folders, just like on Windows 10 Mobile and Windows 10 PCs.

Customization and notifications

Just like Windows Phone, Launcher 10 brings many of the tile customization features you might remember, with a few extras.

You can customize the number of tile-columns available far beyond what was available on Windows 10 Mobile, although depending on your screen resolution, you might want to stick with the default three columns, or Windows 10 Mobile's "more tiles" four columns.

You have the option of displaying notification content as Live tiles, which is useful for certain apps. If you dive into Android's settings, you can block Launcher 10 from handling notifications for specific apps, too, giving you a degree of control over which apps show text and which don't.

Launcher 10 also comes with tiles for a pinned system Calendar, showing events. Sadly, my BlackBerry KEYone seems to have replaced the default Calendar app on Android, preventing me from testing this feature. However, the Contacts tile and Gallery Live tiles work well, showing off your contacts and recent images with rich animations that closely resemble Windows 10 Mobile.

There are a few additional aspects of customization that weren't available on Windows 10 Mobile, such as altering the padding space between tiles, the size of text labels, adding additional start screens, and altering which apps use your accent color or simply use a color based on the app's branding.

Downsides

While Launcher 10 has great tile functionality, gorgeous and fluid animations, and some great features, it's sorely lacking in customizability in other areas. For example, there is no option to change the way the Gallery tile handles pictures, as seen on Windows 10 Mobile.

It also seems odd that the app doesn't have the option of using third-party calendars for tiles either, considering it could just be set up to poll the app for information using Android's permissions system.

It would be nice if the app had the option to customize tiles more directly, too, or perhaps provide a framework for developers to bring Live tile functionality directly to the launcher, although that probably wouldn't be practical.

In closing

You're never going to get a full Windows 10 Mobile Live tile experience on Android, due to the OS limitations, but Launcher 10 is a damn fine attempt to recreate that magic Windows Phone fans yearn for.

Launcher 10 is frequently updated. It offers a free trial, and a couple of cheap in-app purchases for Live tile functionality and the ability to remove ads are in the settings menu. It's a polished product that works well even on more modest Android devices, and although it has clear limitations that might frustrate Windows Phone veterans, it's as close as we can get on Google's platform.

What launchers do you use on Android? Let us know in the comments.

Download Launcher 10 (free) (opens in new tab)

34 Comments
  • Eww, no thanks.
  • Good lord, what is up with that case?
  • SquareHome 2 is better imo. At least you get the tile notification without paying although its worth paying just for the gestures alone. Its also much better for tablets.
  • Ah! Didn't notice your post and posted the same :P
  • +1
    Being able to change the icon pack in SquareHome2 to Whicons etc so they all look uniform is the single most reason I won't go back near Launcher 10. The mix match of icons and colours look awful
  • "If you just can't let go of Windows Phone" said no one ever.
  • I'd have a look over at Windows Central before saying that. You know it was small but Windows Phone had a very dedicated following.
  • Windows Phone by FAR had the best home screen interface in the mobile phone industry. I'd love it if they could port it to Android. I've used Nova Prime for years and while I love the customization, it lacks in what Windows Phone launcher could do. Of course I could mod the hell out of Nova using any number of 3rd party apps but the resources required just for a home screen isn't worth the time or energy.
  • I never liked that home screen, i found it too cluthered and suite ugly imo
  • ""If you just can't let go of Windows Phone" said no one ever." said an ignorant pos by the name of Brian Talamo
  • And the award for the most narrow minded comment on Android Central today goes to............yep..you Brian. Millions of people actually still love Windows phones but have been left with no choice to look elsewhere
  • Windows Phone was okay. I still have my Lumia 635 and 640. The only thing that killed it for me was Microsoft's lack of commitment to the OS (both 8.1 and 10m). Like they just abandoned it to feature2! And 8.1 just got completely abandoned! Anyway, I kind of like the Live Tiles. I don't think they're as useful as Android widgets, but I do think they look good.
  • I was a Windows Phone user from my first smartphone up to Lumia 950. I've grown very fond of it, but finally bit the bullet this past November with Moto G5 Plus because the lack of app support has just become ridiculous. That said, I find I don't miss the Windows UI. I just got the Nova launcher to get rid of the search bar and increase the number of apps on the home screen, but that's about it.
  • Wow, so original and edgy. I'm so glad I read your comment.
  • Since you mentioned that one drawback of Launcher 10 is the lack of customizations, may I suggest SquareHome 2?
    It's a launcher from the same dev of Total Launcher and give you the usual "Metro" App grid but with an overwhelming customization potential. Might be your cup of tea.
  • In both cases, my only gripes is the fact that it's not as fluid and only available in English. My phone is in French and having a bilingual interface is kind of annoying.
  • At least you speak or understand English. If you don't, then you're flawlessly using a translator. win-win for u in both cases. Stop whining. Cheers
  • No, thanks, never again anything Windows except Desktop.
  • I've been using Launcher 10 for a while. Definitely has some quirks, but find it the most Windows Phone launcher on the market. I wish they'd fix a couple of the animation issues and definitely allow for third party calendars, but otherwise solid.
  • Having come from a Windows Phone and seeing very good reviews of this third party add-on, I would like to install it but it probably wouldn't work on top of the Microsoft Launcher. I'd love it if you could swipe one way from your home screen to see your feed, and the other way to see the apps list. Best of both worlds would be gorgeous!
  • Actually, I have Launcher 10 installed over Microsoft Launcher and it works great, providing me with the daily Bing wallpaper behind my transparent live tiles...almost as good as the real thing! This is a been a great alternative to my Nokia 928!
  • I use Launcher 10 and imho it is the closest one to original Windows UI
  • Using since I moved to Android. Love it! The best out there. Developer is really good at responding and fixing issues.
  • I might be sold on this considering the small amount of downsides.
  • As a Windows Phone fan that was forced to move to Android, I've been using Launcher 10 for over a year and I love it. Say what you will, but the live tiles were, and still are, better than rows of icons. on Android or iOS.
  • Pivots. How I miss the Pivots. So darn obvious, yet neither Android nor iOS has adopted the idea. And search bars at the BOTTOM of the screen. Windows Phone 8.x was my favourite of all the mobile operating systems. Windows Mobile 10, meh.
  • Agreed, as far as a favorite OS UI, IMO, Windows Phone 8.x was the best... also had the best keyboard.
  • I miss my Nokia 1520.
  • Me too
  • I still have mine.and my 950xl never gonna sell them
  • I finally threw in the towel on Windows 10 phone a couple of months ago. I was a Windows phone user since 6.1 I installed and set up this launcher today and could not be happier. Now I can use the apps that were unavailable for Win 10 and can have a launcher that is very, very close to what I really enjoyed using. A win for us Microsoft expats.
  • Yucks. No thanks. I have moved away from Windows phone because of its apps nightmares and this launcher will remind me about it again. And tiles are not as useful as what Microsoft says they would be.
  • I miss my Windows Phones, and the buttery smooth navigation experience. Those TILES.
  • Cannot replicate my original Windows Phone 10 look and feel as there is no possibility to set the gap between tiles black (or white, for the light theme) when a backgorund picture is selected. Instead of this, the background picture is always visible between tiles as well. At least I couldn’t find any options to control this behaviour. (On the original Windows Phone 10 there is an option named ‘Choose style’ with 2 values: ‘Tile picture’ and ‘Full screen picture’.
    Can somebody help me with this issue?
    Another thing that the ‘original’ Launcher 8 seems to be a bit nicer and better choice (though it lacks this option as well). Does anybody know whether the Launcher 8 is still supported or just superseded by this Launcher 10?