LauncherPro – Android customisation done right

Ask any geek why Android is great and more often than not the answer will include the word open. One of Android’s biggest purported benefits is it’s openness, which we’re told leads to more innovation and greater customisability.

Unfortunately, I’d argue that in practice it’s also a big weakness. Many a phone has been ruined by manufacturers (and even Networks) using thisĀ opennessĀ to mutilate Vanilla Android in a futile attempt to distinguish their phones from others. With the possible exception of HTC’s Sense I think it’s safe to say that this always results in a poorer experience for users.


Which brings me to LauncherPro. In my opinion LauncherPro is the standout example of why Android’s openess is so great. For those of you who don’t already know, LauncherPro is a replacement for the standard Android launcher i.e. it replaces the normal desktop where you place shortcuts and widgets and access apps from.

So far so normal, but LauncherPro offers a wealth of functionality and customisability that can make using your phone easier, faster and just more enjoyable.

Dock

The default LauncherPro dock

The LauncherPro dock at the bottom of the screen differs from the default Android dock by offering four shortcuts to the usual two. Depending on your preference you can even have up to three docks which you can swipe between to give a total of 15 shortcuts. You aren’t just limited to applications either, just as with the desktop you can set shortcuts to things like contacts, bookmarks, gmail labels, music playlists etc.

These 15 shortcuts can be doubled to 30 through the use of swiping gestures. For example, tapping on your Phone icon could open the dialler while swiping up from it could automatically start a phone call to your significant other. It’s an extremely flexible system which provides quick access to the features and functions most important to you.

The swiping gestures can also be used to initiate popups which provide further information or shortcuts. There are currently popups for missed calls, unread texts, bookmarks and recent apps.

The bookmarks popup

The recent apps popup

Homescreens

LauncherPro allows you to have anywhere between 1 and 7 homescreens and select which one you prefer to be the default. It also supports looping so that swiping forward from the last screen goes back to the first. You can even get a HTC Leap like overview of all your screens at once to enable fast switching between screens.

Drop to Uninstall

Drop to uninstall

Uninstalling apps normally involves either hunting through the applications menu or accessing the Market page for the app and doing it from there. LauncherPro offers a far easier and quicker method to uninstall unwanted apps. Similar to deleting items from your desktop, you simply drag an app to the bottom of the screen where you hold it for a second or two until the drop to uninstall dialogue appears. Job done!

Widgets

LauncherPro Plus (the paid version) also comes with some high quality widgets for Calendar, Bookmarks, Messages, Contacts, Twitter and Facebook. I personally find the Twitter and Facebook widgets to be far more useful and attractive than those that come with the official apps.

The calendar widget

The bookmarks widget

The Twitter widget

Another great feature of LauncherPro Plus is the ability to resize widgets in order to fit more onto each screen.

The same Twitter widget resized in

Summary

I can’t overstate how much I love LauncherPro, the developer Federico Canales is a genius. Google should be hiring him and making it the default launcher for Android. The Plus version is even better but even the standard version is miles ahead of the competition. There are many more features and settings that I haven’t even touched upon and new features are continually added.

 

 

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