Android is one of the most customisable operating systems available, which is the main reason behind half a million android activations a day. But there are still some features that can only be customised by the use of a third party application.
However, the way in which Launcher Pro operates will make it instantly familiar to anyone who has previously used Android.
Your home screens still do what they’ve always done and your applications drawer still works as you would expect it to. Even the way in which you place shortcuts onto home screens and apply different wallpapers is identical.
The most obvious change is the ability to boost the number of home screens up to a maximum of seven.
If you have a phone which is equipped with HTC’s Sense user interface then this won’t seem like much of a big deal, but “stock” Android users will be over the moon at the additional space available; even the most recent update – Android 2.2 – only offers 5 different screens.
Another element which is inspired heavily by Sense is the home screen overview option. Using a “pinch-zoom” command you can pull back your view to show all of your home screens at once.
A second tap will allow you to select which one you wish to visit. It’s very much like the “Expose” feature on Apple’s home computers and counts as a seriously impressive feature.
The final major difference is the dock at the bottom of the display. Here you can store four shortcuts to various elements of the phone, as well as a fifth (mandatory) slot for your application drawer link.
The dock allows you to quickly access certain functions instantly no matter which home screen you happen to be viewing, and it also means you have four less app shortcut icons to fit on your home screens (although with seven available, space is hardly an issue any longer).
The default dock configuration has shortcuts such as calls, contacts, messaging and internet access, but you can actually pick any application you want. It’s even possible to use specially created icons which are unique to Launcher Pro, or custom icons that you’ve created yourself.
With these major elements out of the way, further inspection reveals other cool options. For example, holding an icon over the bin removes it from the home screen as normal, but keep it held for a little longer and you’re able to uninstall the app from the phone completely.
Launcher Pro also boasts an impress degree of customisation; for example you can toggle the number of application icons that are shown per row in your app drawer.
It’s also possible to tinker with how many app icons are displayed on each home screen when the phone is held in landscape mode. While this might not be all that useful for normal phone users, if you’re using one of the many new Android tablets then it could come in very handy indeed.
Launcher Pro won us over with its incredible functionality and in-depth customisation but to top it all off it actually manages to run faster and smoother than the standard “stock” launcher in Android 2.2 – which is an astonishing achievement when you consider that it’s not a first-party Google application.
Moving between home screens is lightning-fast and there’s even a cool “elastic snapback” effect when you flick between each display.
It’s very rare that you come across an app which literally has no negative points whatsoever but Launcher Pro definitely falls into that category.
You could argue that those people running HTC Sense on their Desire or Legend phones already have many of the features showcased in Launcher Pro, and for this reason it’s probably less essential to those individuals than everyone else.
However, for anyone running stock Android or one of the many rival propriety operating systems out there, this is a must-have.