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Nova Launcher may be the best thing that ever happened for Android

Android is built in a way that allows "core" portions of the operating system to be replaced with applications written by a third party. That is, someone not the manufacturer, or Google itself. Nowhere is this more evident than the various Launcher (or Home) apps you'll find in Google Play. The user-facing portion of the operating system — the home pages, the widgets, the application drawer and the icons — can be replaced in one fell swoop.

This is a good thing because chances are once you get a few Android fans together, you'll likely see a big difference in the way they want their phones and tablets to look, act and feel. Inevitably, Nova Launcher gets mentioned.

Nova Launcher

There are good reasons for this. Nova Launcher is one of those gems that works right out of the box but has almost endless options to customize pretty much all of it. As a basic Launcher or Home replacement, you have the home screens to place shortcuts and widgets on, icons to represent all of your installed applications, and a drawer to hold them all. If you don't like the way your home screens and app drawer look on the phone you bought, you can install Nova Launcher and replace it all with one install. And it will all just work.

But the real draw of Nova Launcher is the endless customization.

The look and feel

Look and Feel

Nova Launcher allows you to make your Launcher look and act the way you want it to look and act, versus you having to settle for something someone else envisioned. This goes beyond the basics you'll find with other launchers, and dives deep into some micro-management style settings to allow for control of just about everything.

Custom icon packs

Jared DiPane: One of the things I really like about Nova Launcher is the way it uses custom icon packs, and how I can get my screen to look just the way I want it to. While almost all launchers let you apply custom icon packs, I really like the granular control that Nova gives me. From being able to mix and match icon packs, to being able to change the icon size for the dock, home screen pages, and app drawer independently, the options are unlimited.

In addition to being able to customize the icons, Nova gives me the option to set different dock backgrounds, making it even more custom. If one day I feel like I want to have an iPhone style on my G4, I can add a dock that resembles it, change up the icons and placement, and boom, a whole new feel in just a few minutes.

And there's a lot more to customize in the look and feel department. You have control over the size of those custom icons, the padding between them, the labels underneath them and even the number of rows and columns in both your app drawer and on the home screens. One of the coolest features allows for a scrolling dock, where limitless icons can rest for you to flip through.

Things don't stop with the icons and dock. You have control over animations, the way your wallpaper scrolls (or doesn't scroll if that's how you want it) and placing of your home screen widgets. Want portions of widgets (you get to resize them all) to overlap so you can create a cool design? Nova can do that. And more. The paid version (Nova Prime) even allows "swipe" actions — for example showing my bookmarks when swiping up on the Chrome icon.

Custom is the key here, and Nova Launcher gives you the options to focus on all the fine details of what you see on your screen, how it all looks and how things work together.

Custom shortcuts and gestures

Gestures for almost anything

Russell Holly: The core of any personalization experience is getting to the stuff that matters to you as quickly as possible, and when you purchase the Prime upgrade to Nova Launcher you gain access to quite a bit to accomplish that goal.

Nova's gesture list includes single and double-finger gestures that can do just about everything. You can launch apps, access settings, and access the app drawer or notification panel without touching any of the regular buttons. Instead of just opening an app, you can access specific features within different apps. My personal favorite is jumping straight to the compose function in Google Inbox, but the list of things you can shortcut to if you know what you're doing is pretty impressive.

But that's just the beginning. You can use gestures anywhere on your home screens as well. Swipe up, swipe down, double tap, swipe with two fingers — these gestures (and more) can be set to do things like open your app drawer, pull down the notification shade, open your recent apps and more. You can even deep dive and open activities that you wouldn't otherwise be able to run — things in your engineering mode tests or activities of the core OS.

The best part is that you can assign different gestures to different things in different places. Swipe to open a folder, swipe an icon to open that app to a certain spot (like Russell's Gmail example) or swipe anywhere to do something like fire up Google Search.

Both power users and novices alike will find the gestures and input tools useful. They are well worth exploring!

Control your app drawer

App drawer Nova Launcher

For me, the best features in any custom launcher are the ones that allow me to set my app drawer the way I like it. Some apps that I need to keep won't be used very often, while some get used all the time. Having a way to group and sort everything is important.

Nova Launcher is pretty sweet here. I can start by hiding the icons for apps I don't ever need to see — bloat that can't be uninstalled, license key apps, core apps that I've replaced via Google Play and the like — so I don't have those icons staring me in the face, never to get tapped. Having these hidden reduces the clutter, making it easier to sort the apps I will use.

With the addition of Nova Prime (opens in new tab) (a recommended $4.99 purchase if there ever was one) I can take what's left and sort it into groups and folders (or even tabs!) right inside the app drawer.

Of course, you have control over the background color, the scroll effect and even whether you want horizontal or vertical app drawer pages.

This is Android

App gesture settings

Yes, Nova Launcher may be the best thing that ever happened to Android. Endless customization (without fiddling or flashing anything) is important to plenty of us. Android has the reputation of allowing anyone to do just about anything to the way their phone looks and how it performs the basics, and Nova Launcher gives both the experienced and the veterans among us an easy way to do all of it.

If you need a change, or just want to have more control over how your phone looks and the way it does things, Nova Launcher is a great place to start.

Jerry Hildenbrand
Jerry Hildenbrand

Jerry is an amateur woodworker and struggling shade tree mechanic. There's nothing he can't take apart, but many things he can't reassemble. You'll find him writing and speaking his loud opinion on Android Central and occasionally on Twitter.

253 Comments
  • The Play Store link doesn't work. https://www.androidcentral.com/e?link=https2F2F...
  • Stuff got derpy for a few. It should work now
  • Here:
    https://www.androidcentral.com/e?link=https2F2F...
  • It is without a doubt, for me personally the best launcher. I have tried others on multiple devices and they never measure up. I love the shortcuts. Currently on my dell tablet 7840 and droid turbo. If i could recommend one app this would be it. Posted via the Android Central App
  • Google (Matias Duarte) is fully incompetent to make a usable GUI (despite Android is #1 for me by far)
  • Not really
  • Google's Material Design UI is being heralded by designers and the tech community widely as one of the best in mobile, web and application interfaces. I would hardly call Matias Duarte, the lead designer on that initiative, as incompetent. Clearly, many third-party app developers and web applications are adopting those style guidelines to improve the interface and usability of their products.
  • No. Posted via the Android Central App
  • I only wish that at some point in the future Android will allow theming/skinning of the Notification Tray. To me, that would complete everything i need to make the phone my own.
  • + 1000 Posted via HTC One M7
  • + 0001 Posted via my amazingly smexy Nexus 6 yo
  • Umm, have you ever heard of cyanogens "theme chooser". I change my notification tray several times a week Posted via...The One
  • That means you will need to root your device. For those of us who don't want to take this way, it's a deal breaker. Posted via Android Central App
  • Rooting your device is the best and most important thing you can do to it.
  • Most important? Nope Posted via the Android Central App
  • Yes that's right rooting your phone and losing your manufacturers warranty along with some of the features the phone came with is very important. NOT!!!!! Posted via the Android Central App
  • Only if you have to unlock it to root which isn't all that common. Most sammy and older htc can be rooted without unlock. Too many people have that paranoid outlook you have. And rooting doesn't remove features. You need to learn the terminology. I will explain it with my car analogy:
    Normal UI: Drivers seat
    Root: Looking and poking under the hood, allowing for minor alterations and new features without breaking anything. Can always go back to stock
    Unlock: Replacing the starter (only voids warranty if you cannot relock it)
    Custom Rom: Replacing the transmission and body panels. This could remove hardware features like Moto X active notifications and Voice actions or LG's double tap. But also adds a lot more.
  • i don't need you to explain anything I'm fully aware of the terminologies you mentioned. I have a note 4 and i know that rooting can trip the Knox security which will void your warranty. Also Can you point me to any custom roms for the note 4 where i won't lose functionality of say for example the s pen features??
  • Modified stock custom Roms, of course. Go to xda and do some research for your damn self... Posted via my S6 Edge running Extreme Syndicate at warp speed
  • Be nice! That **** may fly on XDA, but fortunately most people on other sites seem to possess more effective communication skills. Just an unsolicited opinion to be considered.
  • Baloney. First thing I do is root any new phone. Here in Europe Samsung will fix your phone if needed if Knox is tripped.
    Anyway I have never had to take any phone back for problems. And I have had every iteration of Galaxy series from 1 to 6. Plus Tab s 10.5 tablet. all rooted.
  • Not everyone lives in Europe like us, don't they. I also pay € 31,00 a year for insurance ~ ergodirekt), they payback atleast 75% of the phone's cost if something goes wrong
  • Great breakdown, sir. That really does make sense. +1
  • What features do you lose permanently from rooting? And there are ways of rooting while still retaining your warranty. Try again
  • Anything to do with mobile banking. There are a great many apps that check for root and stop working if they find it. Try again.
  • That's not ALWAYS true. I have used mobile banking apps from two different banks and even one from Scottrade and none of them faulted me because of ROOT! SU or any other apps I may be using.
  • Yeah plus a lot of the banking apps I use a lot don't work once rooted. I rooted mine for a while but found the cons outweighed the pros.
  • People still say 'not'?
  • ....Almost every phone that can be rooted and ROM'd can be returned to stock for the sake of warranty claims. And currently, the only "feature" you potentially lose when rooting a phone is Samsung Pay (or whatever it's called), which isn't even out yet. And THAT is not because of rooting your device. That stems purely for KNOX and it's BS, which can get tripped depending on the root method you use. Unless you're talking about OTA's from the Wireless Provider. Which no one in their right mind should consider that a "feature" being lost.
  • It's the same reason I chip my car, 33% more performance for the fraction of the investment. If you need to use your phone warranty or can't figure out how to get around it, chances are you have larger issues then deciding to make full use of a device you purchased or for some reason paid a Telcom extra for the right to rent rather than pay a 3rd party warranty that would cover a rooted phone and cost you less in end. Some people just hate to have to research or think about much beyond their flappy bird score
  • a few years ago I'd agree, but IMO it's not needed as much nowadays. I'm planning on grabbing the Moto X 2015 and won't be rooting it. Posted via the Android Central App
  • By take this way you mean get what you want? Rooting on Android is pretty much a non-issue. This isn't the apple planned obsolescence world. I love being able to run a recent supported OS rather than have decices rot as apps move past the last OS apple decidesdyour es yourworthhyoof ur worthy
  • "I love being able to run a recent supported OS rather than have decices rot as apps move past the last OS apple decidesdyour es yourworthhyoof ur worthy"
    Ummm, WHAT?
  • Google translate :)
  • "dizzle16
    Umm, have you ever heard of cyanogens "theme chooser". I change my notification tray several times a week" Yeah, but wouldn't you have to be running that boring ass CM rom?
  • If there's a Cyanogenmod 12 ROM for your phone, it's possible! Lots of developers have made themes for CM12's theme engine, and they often customize the notification tray.
    Unfortunately you can't customize them yourself to your own settings like Nova Launcher would with other things; that is, unless you learn how to make a CM12 theme yourself.
    Although if you can't get CM12, you might be able to change the status bar icons (the ones when not expanded), if you're rooted. Check this page out.
    http://forum.xda-developers.com/showthread.php?t=2078814
  • I was thinking this exact same thing as i read the article. I imagine that OEMs wouldn't like it but if you can already change most of the UI with a launcher, why would you be bothered with the Settings UI. And if you could add the ability to theme your notifications area then it'd be perfection. I think OEMs will only get their s**t together with software if Google opens up the whole UI experience to competition, irrespective of the device.
  • Android M's System UI Tuner is halfway there with customizable icons, so hopes that future versions will let you change everything. Would finally get rid of Samsung's horrible notification trays.
  • For me the best thing compared to a launcher is not directly a launcher/home screen replacement but another kind of app launcher: SwipePad. Because of that app I almost never see my home screens... I jump from app to app in one swipe wherever I am Posted via Android Central App
  • Thing is the Launcher includes the Homescreen. SwipePad is a bit of a hybrid between launcher and shortcut drawer.
  • I get that but because if swipepad I don't look anymore to launchers i just use basic tw version on my S4. Because I almost don't use it or look at it Posted via Android Central App
  • You might want to look at something like Nova or Google Now launcher then. At least on my phone, using Nova improves 'snappiness' and gives me a few extra minutes of battery life compared to TouchWiz. And since you don't care about the 'launcher' anyway, might be worth a try. :D
  • Yup. I have been stuck on Smart Taskbar 1 since it came out way before nova. It makes it too easy to switch apps right from the taskbar, you can even set it up to launch widgets and make shortcuts in the app area. It is butt ugly but when it comes to this app, functionality trumps design when it comes to fast multitasking (nobody besides me sees it anyways). I still use and theme my home screen, but I use my home screen launcher more for widget info than as an app launcher. Posted via the Android Central App
  • Love me some SwipePad!!
  • 100% agree. i love the app drawer tabs, so I have a tab for me, one for my kids, one for games, etc. and have folders within those tabs. and then allowing me to add those folders to the quick access section of the homescreen means i dont have to have my homescreen filled with pages and pages of apps like I see on 90% of my friends phones..... instead of have folders (via swipe up action) always accessible from the quick access dock to get to almost any app i need without the clutter! Also, having things like swipe down from the screen to access notification drawer, double-tap to lock phone, swipe up to open app drawer (like i used to do in webOS), etc makes having a larger phone (or one with a power button on the back) so much more manageable! I love Nova. I also love their Widget Locker Lockscreen for the same level of customization on my lockscreen!
  • How do u double tap to lock the screen? Posted via the ONE M9
  • I have that to. Use an app than can screen off with a press of a button. Then connect 2x tab the the app end tada magic happens :) Posted via Android Central App
  • Oh I see. Any good app I should download? Posted via the ONE M9
  • Screen Off And Lock from the play store.
  • This one works great for me.
    https://www.androidcentral.com/e?link=https2F2F... Posted via the Android Central App
  • You tap the notification bar. Posted via the Android Central App
  • It's basically my main interface to Android for the past 3 or 4 years. Always smooth and TONS of options.
  • I just wish I could link home screen shortcuts to app drawer folders (tabs). That would be pretty sweet. Posted via the Android Central App
  • I'm enjoying Nova now, but once upon a time (for some unknown reason) it drained the battery on my Tab S like water down the Niagara falls. That was, obviously, a few updates ago, so I might go back and re-visit. On the Note 4 and LG G4, though, it's quite snappy. I still prefer Themer in terms of radical appearance changes, but lately the addition of new themes there has slowed down to a crawl and performance-wise it is far from perfect (or even acceptable sometimes).
  • Not sure what was going on a long time ago, but I can assure you there is no battery drain anymore. Posted via the Android Central App
  • Neither do I. We had a couple other guys test it on their Tab S's and they also experienced the drain, but not on other tablets or phones. W.E.I.R.D. I'll try it again and see if it behaves now that even the tablet has updated (twice) to Lollipop.
  • Been using it since it was a beta app on XDA and overtime it became my only choice for launcher on all of my phones. Developer is good and you never feel that you are lagging behind in terms or new features or updates. Current iteration of Nova Launcher is at its best so far. Great review and even great launcher. All people who use android phones must and should try it at least once. One thing of note is to get notification badges on the icons (number of emails or missed call etc) you will need to upgrade the launcher to paid version and use an addon "Tesla Unread" to make it work.
  • I find the badges are ok, I disabled them on my g4 because they tend to not go away. Like I'll check my texts and then my badge says I have 3 texts that I haven't seen when in fact I have none for example. Other than that the launcher is pretty perfect. Also a big fan of action launcher. Posted via the Android Central App
  • Nice article. Nova Launcher deserves this type of recognition and more. They stand behind their product and continue to improve it with updates and new features. I often forget I'm using a third party launcher because it works so well on my phone. It seems like Google is totally fine with this idea of user replacing their stock launcher, since it's never been easier to switch back and forth by simply going to settings and clinking which home screen you want use. Posted via the Android Central App
  • Jerry you make me wanna get a Nexus 6!! Posted via the Android Central App
  • It's a great phone! But what was he using in this article? I have a N6 and I know it's not that...looks nice though.
  • Alcatel Idol 3
  • Thanks! Liking it so far?
  • If I were buying a phone today, I think it would be the one. With ZenFone 2 a close second.
  • Well I look like an idiot lol Posted via the Android Central App
  • Alcatel Idol 3 Edit: ninja'd by Jerry :)
  • So Nova over Apex? I like both.
  • That's a preference thing. Both are great, I just got used to apex and stick with it. Sent from a phone, an awesome phone, my phone.
  • After using both I can say with certainty that apex is snappier at launching apps if you use the default animation. I can't be the only one that notices this, but I guess I might be the only one that cares?lol. Apex's KK zoom option is also way smoother than nova's
  • Nova is much better IMO Posted via the ONE M9
  • Oh its FAR better overall. Since the material update everything about nova is slick. The sorts of animations you see doing various things and navigating through the settings are better than any launcher I've seen on android. It also now looks the best overall as well since the update. Unfortunately for me it's default slide up animation which is all I like using is a bit too slow to launch apps. That annoys the shit out of me
  • Umm, am I the only one who had NOT forgotten about the -NOBAMA-like-force-everything-on-you "feeling lucky" by the CHINESE devs from Apex??? No spank you very much! Been with Nova since its inception to and won't ever, EVER use another launcher. The dev is really great, he from Chicago my Hometown so I'll always support him because he deserves it. Just my .02¢
  • Only 0,2 ¢ pff :) Posted via Android Central App
  • They got rid of that...or at least made it easy to turn off.
  • No they DID NOT GET RID OF IT! They just took the courtesy to hide it for you. Or it that hide it from you - it's still there cuz my kids use it and I just checked the other day. And pfft right back @ you bub. Apparently you like being forced to accept things you don't want whether you like it or not and whether you need it or not. That's what's going on there and in the world and us today. If I wanted a dictatorship if just be another Apple drone.
  • Well...that escalated quickly Posted via my S6 Edge running Extreme Syndicate at warp speed
  • I actually bounced back and forth between Nova and Apex way back in the S3 era, I had to S3's one rooted and one not they were ATT. The problem with the NON rooted one was all the bloatware that ATT had dragged APEX down. Nova was still seamless. So my vote is for Nova! It gives many more switches so you can customize much more! If you are Rooted you can just about make your phone/Device Sing! LOL
  • Agreed! Taking nothing away from Nova cuz it's a great launcher, but I too have used Apex for a long time it offers all the same things mentioned in the article.
  • Aviate is a great launcher, better than nova IMHO
  • I was saying the same thing. Never tried Nova but have been very happy with Aviate.
  • It was great, until the last update. Yahoo screwed it up !!!!!!!
  • I go back and forth between Nova and AL3 ... for me, the Shutters in AL3 are just awesome, and I wish other launchers had something similar!
  • I especially love that you posted a screenshot of your app drawer under the "work" tab with "MiKandi" dead center. So many questions.
  • wow ... I didn't even know what it was. Had to look it up. lol. Must be for research I am sure. ;)
  • I think what they are doing — providing adult entertainment with a secure and safe way to pay — is important, and keep tabs on it. Not that I'm complaining about sorting through the content ...
  • Jerry's done several adult app articles for AC.
  • Haven't seen one in awhile on the main. The last one was a nightmare from the comments pov Sent from a phone, an awesome phone, my phone.
  • Novas marketing department couldn't have written better copy than this. Bravo.
  • The reason I like it best is because you can turn any Android phone into a "stock" Nexus. The only thing that's missing are the quick nexus updates. But the user experience is all but identical (and better with optional tweaks, etc.)
  • Nova Launcher FTW! I have it on my G2, my Tab Pro 8.4, Tab 2 10.1, and my Daughter's S3. Absolutely perfect on every one. Great app from a great Drv. From my lollipopped rooted LG G2
  • Nova Launcher, no other Launcher comes close. Posted via the Android Central App
  • Ali these beautiful words and bit one mention of the fantastic ability to save and restore your launcher configuration? This is a huge timesaver when switching from phone to phone and one of the reasons I'm likely to never give up Nova.
  • bit =not. Sure wish that edit button worked from my phone.....
  • There's a lot to say about Nova, it's not surprsing that something slipped through the cracks. The Backup/restore feature is one of the things that I always mention to users who don't like change.
  • +1 backup restore is awesome Posted via the Android Central App
  • I keep switching between this and Apex. The only feature I wish they would add is the ability to scroll the screen vertically. Posted via the Android Central App
  • If you are talking about scrolling in app drawer then its already there. But I am sure you are not talking about that ... right?
  • No, I mean scrolling the actual screen vertically like windows phones do. I prefer vertical scrolling. Posted via the Android Central App
  • Then Lucid launcher is for you. Homescreens vertically scroll by default. Otherwise you'll have a hard time finding that option
  • I love Nova. Been using it ever since it first got released. I've tried other launchers, but I always come back to it. Unless I'm restoring apps from my backup, it's always the first app I install on a new device.
  • Yep best launcher imo without a doubt. Have been using nova prime for like 3 years now. Have tried everything from adw, action launcher, lightning, apex, buzz,themer etc etc but always end up back on nova. If there's something you want to do, every chance nova does it. Posted via the Android Central App
  • Love Nova! I forget about all these things it can do. I only use a very small fraction of them. I probably need to go back and look at a few. One thing not mentioned is that you can backup your settings, folders, etc. to an online service. If you switch phones this can be a big time saver not to have to set up everything again.
  • I keep hearing it's the best. I use GNL + XGELS + Switchr + Action widgets Posted via the Android Central App
  • why uBlock doesnt block this ad
  • Bought nova prime in a play store sale 3-4 years ago and it's all I use, the first app that goes on my phone or tablet. Posted via the Android Central App
  • I agree in part, it's always one of the first apps I install. But I always install ROM Toolbox Pro & Root Explorer then Nova Launcher Prime, Launcher, and TeslaUnread. I like to have backups of everything I install so I can restore them from the backed up settings. That way I never miss a beat.
  • Main reason you can convince someone Android is better is the launcher. It displays both customization and openness.
  • Can a home confirm or deny that nova will hurt battery life as well as ram use? I have used it for many of my phones, but on the S6 the performance was terrible. Which I am mostly Contributing to the S6.. I'm just afraid to go back to nova in case it hurts anything. Thoughts? . Using an alpha now
  • I don't have an S6 so I can't speak for myself but all the threads I have seen don't mention any battery drain. I have heard others mention performance issues but that is with the S6 itself! LOL
  • It's the only launcher I use on all of my device's even my Nexus device's. Posted via the Android Central App. On my Nexus device or my LG G2 unlocked version
  • I now use it love it plen on using for ever Posted via the Android Central App
  • What wallpaper is that???
  • Is there a way in Nova Launcher to swipe / gesture right to bring up Google Now cards, like how Google Now Launcher works? That's the only thing that keeps me away from 3rd party launchers.
  • Just swipe up from the middle soft button. I think that works on all launchers.
  • I left Nova for the Google Now Launcher specifically because of this, the "OK Google" voice prompt, and the tap-on/tap-off on my G2. Have these been updated/added/resolved in Nova for Lollipop?
    If so, I'm back in a heartbeat.
  • Ok Google works fine for me. I'm not sure what the launcher could have done there. I can't speak to LG specifically though about the tap feature as I don't have an lg phone.
  • I've set mine to double tap in an open space. I find it easier than swiping.
  • You can assign a gesture to launch Google now. For example from the home screen I pinch out and it instantly launches Google now.
  • I love that Nova Launcher exists. My personal preference is for the google now launcher but I am happy that there are options for those who want them.
  • ^^^This!^^^ Personally, I'm torn by conflicting urges: a) the urge for customizability - an area where Android beats the pants off the competition, and b) the urge to stick as close to Google as possible, and have as close to a truly "vanilla", or "pure" Android experience as possible, not muddied up by third party software, or by someone's deviant idea of what/how Android should be...even if that deviant person is me via all the customization. Also, since my intent is to be as deeply immersed as possible in not only the Google ecosystem, but also Apple, and Microsoft...and heck, even Ubuntu, I'm torn here too: Im nit sure how Android should be represented in that mix. In the scheme of being amidst iOS/MacOS and Windows devices, do I want to have a "pure" Android, so we can make a more direct compariaon to the pure iOS and pure Windows 10 mobile that I'm going to have either way, or do I want to really trump up perhaps Android's greatest advantage over the others and go customization crazy? I think the tie-breaker for me (at least for now) is this: after waiting months and months and months to get a very "Touchwiz'd" version of Lollipop on my Note 3, it left a bad taste in my mouth for 3rd party Android, an urge for the purest Android experience I could have, and something I thought I'd never feel: an urge to stay as close to Google as I can. Not that I will be able to avoid 3rd party Android completely: I have an OUYA, plan on getting an nVidia Shield, and am a Kickstarter backer of the Remix Mini. But in the case of any future phones and tablets, at least, they will all be Google - and if Google ever comes out with something high powered like the Shield, or develops an "Android Desktop" platform anything like Remix OS, I'd drop nVidia and JiDe like a bad habit and go all Google in an instant. Now, I realize that Nova won't have any impacts on update availability or anything like that. And I also realize that whether I'm using Nova, or Google Now...or heck, straight up Touchwiz, it's on a Samsung phone either way....but Google Now is the one that gets me the closest to approximating that pure Android experience... And it's most tightly engrained in all things Google....because it IS Google. Will I ever download Nova and try it? Don't know. It all comes down to this: I have two devices running Google Now right now. I suppose I could just try Nova on one of them, but one last time, I'm torn: between being able to play around with Nova on one while keeping that quasi-vanilla GNL on the other, and between having the two devices provide me as close to an identical experience as they can for a phone and a tablet. So we'll see! Cheers! Posted via the Android Central App
  • I understand where you're coming from! I frequently switch between the Google Now Launcher, Nova and Action Launcher 3 on my Nexus 4. One day I want the vanilla Android Experience, the next, I'm feeling creative and want to customize the device to my content. That's what makes Android so great; you can be as simple or complex as you'd like! Android FTW! Posted via the Android Central App on my Nexus 4
  • Yeah, that's a good point! I suppose I don't HAVE to commit to one or the other. I may explore that. I guess it will depend on how cumbersome it is to switch back and forth between defaults. Also, the more I think about it, the more I think I'll put Nova on one or the other device. That way I have both a vanilla, and a decidedly not vanilla in the lineup (presenting both faces of Android). I'd much rather keep the Note 3 vanilla and go nuts w/ Nova on my tablet since I use my phone daily. However, my tablet is a 2011 HP Touchpad rooted with Cyanogenmod12 (Lollipop) and so it is both kinda old and slow, but also fairly buggy from cm12. I'm not sure how well it'd handle Nova. And if it's badly, I might have to leave GNL on it and put Nova on the Note instead.
  • Wow, a launcher article by AC that isn't pushing Action Launcher.....
  • Action Launcher FTW!!
  • I agree that it is a good launcher IF you spend the cash for the premium version. I use free Apex launcher and it beats capabilities out of Nova (free version). I find the Nova settings too hard to get to. Apex, on the other hand, allows me to put shortcuts onto my screen. Posted via the Android Central App
  • Nova is my 2nd Launcher behind Action Launcher 3. Posted via the Android Central App
  • Nova's definately become the most mature/best looking launcher since the material update a couple months back. But one thing that annoys the hell out of me to the point where I don't use it is that the default app launching animation is a bit sluggish compared to others like apex and action 3. It's subtle for sure, but there's definately a difference in speed. I like the slide left animation on it but it gets old pretty quick. I'm not a fan of increasing transition animations since it makes everything you do feel jerky so I've been rocking apex the last few months
  • I first started using Nova the day I got my old Galaxy Nexus, a little over three years ago. I'm still using it on my first-gen Moto X, and I'll probably still be using it well into the future, unless for some unfathomable reason they decide to pull a LauncherPro and quit updating it.
  • What the f##! are you guys all smoking? If you consider Nova the epitome of customizability then you're just as deluded as the apple fanboys. All Nova really is just the latest AOSP launcher with some core tweaks implemented, that's if they can be bothered. The latest 'kool-aid' material design version, for example, inexplicably removed the option to decide onto which homescreen should newly installed apps go. Mine for some reason puts all new apps onto my second screen and there's nothing I can do about it. Hail almighty Nova customization! Shortcut menu item to go to an app's play store page - nah, you can't do that anymore either, oh but have some themes to play with - how about an iPhone one? posted from AC powered by DC
  • Mostly Camel Wides, but sometimes I'll hit the good stuff.
  • Haters gonna hate
  • "The latest 'kool-aid' material design version, for example, inexplicably removed the option to decide onto which homescreen should newly installed apps go. Mine for some reason puts all new apps onto my second screen and there's nothing I can do about it." And we know how tired you can get dragging an icon from one screen to another. In fact, I have to go lie down and take a nap now just from thinking about it.
  • Nova Launcher is excellent. Been a long standing user for quite some time now, and Prime is so worth the cash. That said, I'm playing with Action Launcher 3 at the moment, which is another great Launcher. Not quite at the same standard yet, but well worth a peek. They both beat Google Now Launcher hands down. The customisation of these launchers is another reason I love Android! Posted via the Android Central App
  • It is the best bar none.
  • I've paid for both GoLauncher and NOVA and they both do the absolute same things equally well. I prefer NOVA on my tablets but use Go Launcher for my phones. I have no idea why.... LoL
  • Strange enough, Nova didn't run smooth on my Gs6 when I was using it last month :( ...Maybe it's time to give it another shot
  • If it didn't work the first time. It won't run any better the second time. Thing is, its not Nova's fault. Its just the way S6 is (or any other Galaxy phone for that matter). TW is a RAM hogging beast and there is no way going around it. Stock launcher runs smooth because its utilizes HW acceleration and is specially optimized for the system.
  • Using Nova Prime on my S6 Edge - without any issues at all. Runs smooth and fast! Not sure why you may be having problems.
  • I like how you gave 0 fucks about Apex. But... To be honest, Apex development has been quite shite since last december. There is an "invisible drawer-icon bug" that doesnt "allow" me to update it. I've been seriously thinking about switching to Nova, which I already purchased.
  • This is a post about Nova Launcher. I might also be using Apex to write something similar, and if so it would get it's own post. I'mma use it for a while before I decide how many fucks to give :)
  • lol! Yeah I noticed, I just felt like it was more like "Hey look, Nova is the best, stop using other launchers".
  • That's what I use. I love the option to group icons into folders and to resize them. It makes everything look so much neater.
  • Been using nova launcher for 3 phones now!!! I've tried others but I always switch back. Posted via the Android Central App
  • Jerry, can you please post the wallpaper/icon pack you're using? Looks great! Posted via the Android Central App
  • https://www.androidcentral.com/e?link=https2F2Flinks2Ftype2Fsid2Fhttps2F2Fstore2Fdetails3Dcom.harsh.material&token=tpFVKVQj
  • Nova Prime is by far the best launcher on Android. No other launcher even comes close. Note 4/T-Mobile/AC App
  • Have you even tried GoLauncher lately? It is literally the exact same launcher with the exact same features. The only reason GoLauncher doesn't get the love is because the free version has a tad bit to much advertising. I happened to get the paid version for a dime way back when Google was having their big 1 billion download sale or whatever it was.... Best 10 cents I ever spent! Posted via the Android Central App
  • "It is literally the exact same launcher with the exact same features."
    If it's exactly the same, and you're already using Nova, then why change?
  • It'd be pretty tough to pull me away from my Yahoo Aviate.
  • I have been using NOVA launcher since it was released and bought Prime immediately. It wasn't until Action Launchers new update that I decided to give it a go and have been just as happy with them as I have been with Nova. Both are great in my book.
  • Amen! via AC App on
    VZW Moto X 2014/DE 2013/N7
  • Use nova on everything even my Nexus 6. It makes android fully customizable. Posted via the Android Central App
  • No need for any 3rd party launcher with Samsung Galaxy Note 4 3 or 2..have all my apps in color coded folders just fine. Certainly no need to pay $5 for folders. Just another useless app to add. No thanks.
  • Have been using nova prime for some time. I try others from time to time, but nova is the best. Basically, this is what Google should done with their Google launcher. Customisation. Nova is rich, solid and works over many devices. What more could you ask? The team are always actively improving it.
  • Excellent write-up. I completely agree and from the looks of it, so do most of your readers. How often do you read an article that turns into such a praise fest? It's nice to see so many people having similar positive experiences.
  • One of the best dimes or quarters i spent. Can't remember which sale. Those were the days. Posted via the Android Central App
  • I got it for a quarter back during Google Play's birthday one year. I wouldn't start using Nova for over 6 months, but I knew that it was a great deal and I'd use it eventually.
  • Rocking Nova Launcher Prime on my Moto X 2014 and on my Nexus 9. It's relatively lightweight, is absolutely not heavy on RAM, and very snappy. Well worth 5 bucks. Posted via the Android Central App
  • Sometimes I fell at that the .25$ I spent on purchasing Nova Launcher Prime in 2012 has been the best investment I have ever made in Android. Kudos to the Developer. Brilliant App.
  • Nova is great, don't get me wrong, that is my default launcher. I've tried others but always keep on coming back to Nova Prime (I think I picked it up on a 25 cent sale or something). I do feel its very similar to Apex and often the two are hard to tell apart though. HOWEVER for me the best launcher ever was LauncherPro. There was absolutely no competition. It is a real shame that the dev never continued with it or even open sourced it. https://www.androidcentral.com/e?link=https2F2F...
  • I totally agree. It was the best thing before ICS days.
  • Won't use anything else. I keep coming back to Nova. Posted from my Nexus 7 2013 via Android Central App
  • On Nova, can you switch the gesture of the app drawer button to make it open Google now when you swipe up instead of Nova settings?
  • Yep, go into the nova settings and then into gestures and input. Scroll towards the bottom and there should be a gesture for swipe up. Just tap it and set the Google app for the gesture and you're all set. This is the way I have google now set on my phone btw. I do think you need the full paid version to use gestures too. Posted via the Android Central App
  • nah google now launcher rules. Swiping right to get into google now is the most convenient thing ever. Posted via the Android Central App
  • Yep! Posted via the Android Central App
  • Compared to swipe up? Yep, makes all the difference in the world. /s
  • Its funny.
    A few days ago the Launcher I had bought and used on 3 Androids kept crashing, and I instantly thought to buy Nova...great discussion...love widget "padding" to get your widgets *just right*!! Posted via the Android Central App
  • The two things I'd like to see added to Nova are left and right gestures when you only have one desktop page.
  • Nova Prime is a must have on all Androids, IMO... Posted via the Android Central App
  • Nah....Google Now Launcher is my must have. Posted via the Android Central App
  • And why? Because they rip you off with simple paid features that are already available in the stock launcher? Posted.
  • I love it. It's my preferred launcher on most devices. I bought Prime not long ago. Best decision ever. Posted from my "Jack Of All Trades" LG G4
  • I love it! I bought pro and love the spotlight like feature where I can just search for an app. Very handy when you have 400 apps! Posted via Android Central App on 1+1
  • I had Nova for a while and decided to try ADW a few months ago. Will never go back to Nova. :) Free: https://www.androidcentral.com/e?link=https2F2F...
    Paid "EX": https://www.androidcentral.com/e?link=https2F2F...
  • wow ... are they still updating ADW? Develop dropped the support for a long time. I still have a paid version but never went back to it since it was dead. I might try it again to see what's what.
  • "Updated on July 27, 2013" Posted via the Android Central App
  • what icon pack is that circle one looks neat..
  • Agreed! I enjoy it a lot! How do I download icon packs?
  • I like NEXT launcher better then Nova. Even more customization. Posted via the Android Central App
  • I have been Useing Nova for years and even recently got the latest beta to try
    Out. I won't use anything else but the occasional one to play with or maybe a 3d launcher. Nova will always be my go to launcher. It seems to make each device I put it on somewhat snappier and more responsive. Great job devs. Posted via Android Central App
  • Nova Prime changed to the now hideous UI and wouldn't use it for a couple weeks after the material release. It looks so Googley and I can't stand red at all. If they allow UI customization, it will be the #1 again for me. Yes, I am using it but with great pain when I have to make any settings changes. I've used everything out there, 3D Launchers included and Nova is first rate on usability and complete control on how you want your device to look and feel. It wasn't as great on my Samsung devices but it's near stellar on the Nexus 6.
  • Undoubtedly a fantastic launcher.. but just wish if they give more transitions in near future.. like chariot.. my fav...
    Just bcoz of nova.. my GS3 is alive..
  • No notifications unless you upgrade to Prime. Switched to Hola & that's the only reason I switched. Otherwise prefer Nova Posted via the Android Central App
  • Does the Nova Launcher integrate with Google Now? Posted via the Android Central App on my Moto G 4G 2nd Gen
  • You can swipe up from the home button, but not sure what you mean other than that.
  • I still don't get why you can't ask a launcher to automatically hide apps you have on the desktop. I don't want to see them twice. Posted via the Android Central App
  • How do I get de apps button in the middle of the dock ? And can I get a backup of your settings from Nova launcher Posted via the Android Central App
  • So after reading this and all the wonderful feedback, I installed Nova. The last time I tried a launcher, probably 4 yrs ago, it was not a great experience. Nova actually seems to improved the performance of my HTC One M8. Now I can also get everything the way I want lt. Being able to change the grid is awesome and tap saving for me. Really, really liking this so far Posted via the Android Central App
  • +1
  • It is the best there is out there. And it keeps getting better. Posted via the AC App on Note 4 N910F
  • Does Nova allow you to change the font size of the notification bar? The time, signal meter, etc.?
  • what icon pack is being used with nova in the OP?!
  • Nova is always one of my first recommendations to anyone jumping ship from iOS to Android. Usually because it's the first thing they ask about when they see my phone. It's a great introduction into that whole customization thing they've been missing out on without having to dig into rooting and whatnot. I've sworn by it for several years now across multiple devices. I've tried all the top launchers over the years, too. Most recently i was trying the updated Action Launcher on my Note. It may be a strong second best for me for now but I still default to Nova.
  • cool. the only real issue in my opiniom, is when installing a 3rd party launcher, the stock launcher still hangs in the RAM memory.
    this means you have 2 launchers running in the background.. which is pretty bumming.
  • does nova have hide app feature? i see Mikandi in app drwaer lol
  • What is the benefit of using Nova Prime over regular Nova? Posted via the Android Central App
  • I actually might try this launcher now that my beloved Aviate has changed into something not as pleasant to use. Haven't used nova in a few years. Posted via the Android Central App
  • I was all for Aviate until it became Aviate Launcher by Yahoo...
  • Disagree that Nova's the best home launcher.
    For me, Lucid Launcher Pro FTW (drops mic :)
  • I may give this a go. I've been a faithful Apex user for a long time.
  • I used to have both Apex and Nova on my Nexus 7, I was never too impressed by Nova though, I may follow suit and give it a try as well.
  • Nice write up! I haven't used Nova in a long while. Maybe I will give it another go....
  • What are the icons in the Custom Icon section in the article? I want..... and assume they're available for Apex b/c they do free gestures and have almost as much customization from my limited time on both.
  • Velur icons.
  • Thanks, sir!
  • There's a reason I HATE paying for stuff like this (even though it was only a buck) and it's b/c it doesn't look nearly as good as Rondo does w/ my current setup. Oh well. Lesson learned :)
  • I really like a working unread count badge. Nova unread count has not worked on my Note 4 for a few months. Nova doesn't appear interested in fixing it. So I'm moving on to a working launcher.
  • Tesla Unread. It isn't rocket surgery.
  • Always stuck with Nova after trying others. There are really good alternate Launchers as well though but I tend to stick with Nova
  • I never use widgets- but the time widget Jerry has on his home screen looks doable for me. How do you find it? Is that from Nova? I have prime but can't figure it out- any assistance would be appreciated.
  • Great read Jerry. This is probably the first app I install on my phones. I've tried other launchers and many are good but I always go back to Nova. Sony Z3 via the Android Central App
  • The big problem with Nova seems to be widgets. Some of my widgets looks really "zoomed in" and far too large, compared to when using default launcher (GS6 TouchWiz). The Android Central widget is one example (using Nova only one article is shown, with huge font and image - with TW I can see two articles, with normal font and images). Sunrise calendar another example. Any way to fix that? Changing icon grid size doesn't help.
  • No one? That's the only thing stopping me from switching to Nova and buying Prime...
  • First post! Whoop! Does anyone know that the name of the icon pack pictured above is? The rounded icons, with a nice outline and drop shadow. Thanks!
  • Actually, I was able to find it - it's called Velur Icon Pack.
  • Thanks for figuring this out, I came here to find out what it was. Just bought it, and it looks awesome.
  • No worries! Another quest for anyone who's interested is to figure out what clock widget is being used under the "This Is Android" section. I like how minimalist it is, but is has the weather and what looks like a flashlight button. Get on it Internet!
  • The widget is Dashclock::
    https://www.androidcentral.com/e?link=https2F2F... You also need this to add the flashlight.
    https://www.androidcentral.com/e?link=https2F2F... There are a bunch of extensions you can add to Dashclock to give it more functions.
  • Awesome, thanks so much!
  • Nova is great, gives the benefits of a stock Android experience with just enough tweaks to make it work exactly how I want it. It is basically the only way I would purchase a Samsung phone at this point - Touchwiz is an abomination.
  • Although I've been using many different phones from different manufacturers (Sony, HTC, LG, Samsung, Firephone, HP), Nova launcher is the only launcher I've used for 5 years. It's fast, responsive, customizable, and reliable.
  • I have been running without Nova since I got my S6 edge. Just installed it. It really is great. Posted via the Android Central App
  • "Action 3" launcher is the best. Why you ask? Because I said so. So their.........
  • "So their........." Sometimes the jokes just write themselves.
  • I gave nova a try and did not care for it. I ended up using smart launcher pro. The problem I had with nova is in the end, the screen was arranged the same. May have different icons, different backgrounds, and other different features, but it was not for me. I did like some of the features and if I can get the same look smart launcher has, then I may give it another try. on the next phone I get.
  • By far the best $5 investment I have ever made. I was using APEX first and thought, like some people, that it was the same as or better than Nova. Until I decided to try Nova. I never went back to Apex. Instead I bought Nova Prime! Posted via Android Central App
  • I couldn't agree more.
  • I like Nova Launcher best of all the aftermarket launchers but I really don't like the choices for folder icons. They're all ugly Posted via the Android Central App
  • Been using Nova since my HTC Thunderbolt days back in 2011....love it...can't think of my Android phone without it. It has only gotten better over those 4 years. I love how you can back up the homescreen to the cloud and then restore it. Love the customizations that you can do. Got my wife to embrace Nova as well and she loves it.....she isn't enjoying her Samsung Note 4 (different story)...but, at least when we switch to a new phone for her, she won't have to reset up her screen.
  • Just bought the full deal for $4.99. First time I have used a 3rd party launcher in the year and a half that I have had my S4. I should have done this a looonnnggg time ago! It's like having a new phone! Galaxy S4 5.0.1
  • So I bought Nova Prime Launcher a long time ago and never messed with it much.
    Now I am trying it out.
    Is there any good tutorials out there for this app? I can do some stuff but I feel like I am missing about 90% of its capability.
  • Nova launcher is great. But to get what I want, I'll have to pay for it. What do I want? I want to be able to sort and group my apps in folders in my app drawers. To get such a simple function, you have to pay for it? It's free for Buzz Launcher. That's why I have been using buzz launcher for my 3 devices. For my homepage (desktop), I can customize all my icons in multiple ways. I can change the icons with my own customized ones. I can also use photos to serve as icons, sort of like the metro/window phones tiles. I can simple use text as my icons (takes up a lot less space and will not block my background photo). I can even use invisible icons; nobody will know where to click to launch any of my apps. So for me, Nova launcher is great. But Buzz launcher is even better!
  • I don't even think that feature works properly. I really want the same is to be able to group my apps in the app drawer, and I did, but for some reason when I click to open the folder, I cant see any of the apps in there. Crazy right?
  • The one thing I haven't see with any new launchers is a way that it let's me know how many emails or text messages I have waiting for me. I like to see the little number thing in the corner of each!!
  • That function is available for Buzz launcher (the free version).
  • is nova launcher really good?or will it lag like crazy Posted via the Android Central App
  • i love nova launcher. Maybe its just me, but there is one thing that bugs me about this launcher. I can create a folder so that it shows up in the app drawer, but when I open the folder from the drawer, I cant see whats in it. What is the point of putting things in a folder if I can see whats in it. Is it just me, am I doing something wrong or its just not set up properly? I have a Samsung S6 and they allow you to create folders in the app drawer and its great, but I wanted to use Nova. Please provide any feedback.
  • Love Nova launcher. Wouldn't/Couldn't run without it now. For me it's the gestures and of course the option to customize almost anything. It's great. Posted via the Android Central App
  • Really like the wallpaper. Could you share? I also saw you have the MiKandi app installed... It's very interesting isn't it? Posted via the Android Central App
  • I even use Nova Launcher on my Nexus 6.
  • I used to like it, too, until the recent interface overhaul. The long-press options (adding shortcut, app etc) is now a mess to me. I prefer the old way. I went to its related cousin, Apex, due to this. which looks "fresh" yet has the old way of working with setting up the desktop when long-pressing.
  • +1
    I've done the same thing. Apex is almost as good and the loss of long press actions in Nova ruined it for me. Posted via the Android Central App
  • How do you do this "The paid version (Nova Prime) even allows "swipe" actions — for example showing my bookmarks when swiping up on the Chrome icon."? I've the prime version and I only have action sto a few apps, and don't include chrome or gmail.
  • Nova Launcher is the best! I moved from Action Launcher 3 Pro to Nova Prime! Posted via the Android Central App
  • I have Nova Prime on my S4 , S4 mini and Tab S 8.4
    Works perfect and blazing fast.
    Just a tip to users.
    Root the phone, activate developers options and turn off all animations . It makes Nova Faster than my finger and absolutely NO lag I froze TouchWiz using Titanium.
    For those who bash rooting. You don't know what you are missing. Its perfectly safe
  • can you add a real google now page like in the google now launcher?
  • Hi. Can you please share wallpaper in the picture? Also I would like to know what clock widget are u using? Dash clock?
  • Love Nova Launcher Prime. I think Nova & Apex Launcher are almost identical twin's in the customization department. Both are very similar with pretty much the same features & settings to configure. But i use Nova Prime only these days since the big 4.0 update. 'Vanilla' Android is too boring & Google Now Launcher is too basic. To each their own i guess. "Easy Come Easy Go"
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  • The two features I like the most about Nova Launcher are: 1) Icon packs - Marshmallow icon pack in particular
    I can make the dialer and other stock LG apps on my G5 look like those on a Nexus 2) Apps are all the same size
    On the Google Now Launcher, app icons are different sizes - the LG dialer app is much larger than Google Messenger, for example (and it doesn't look right on my dock!)
  • So far Themer is much better than Nova. You can opt to remove the dock altogether and just have full page icon screens. Themer's features are free. You don't have to pay to have icons that fit your screen. But so far I haven't found any launchers that implement the GOOD iOS stuff like a clock and calendars app icons that actually show the time and date. It's so annoying to keep looking at the wrong time and date on my android phone.
  • Yeah! This is what Android is! ~Games, chocolate, and anime. Reasons to live for.