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5 Launchers Every Android User Should Consider Using

5 Launchers Every Android User Should Consider Using

If you are an iPhone user, or are a novice when it comes to customizing your Android device, you are probably unfamiliar with what a “launcher” is. To put it into simple terms, it’s essentially a layer of software that runs on top of the base layer of Android loaded onto your smartphone or tablet.

If you have a Samsung phone, the TouchWiz interface they use is a form of launcher (albeit a clunky one, at least compared to a number of third party offerings). Really, all Android phones use a launcher of some sort, except for Nexus devices, which run using a vanilla version of Google’s mobile software.

With that out of the way, you’re probably asking yourself this question: “why do I need a new launcher?” Well, for one, your mileage may vary. There are a number of reasons to want to use a third party launcher on your Android device, namely, to increase its speed, to improve its usability, etc.

Below are a few launchers that are proven to add to the Android experience in a multitude of ways. Some will make your device faster, some will add functionality, and others will do a combination of both.

1. GO Launcher EX – launch apps with gestures and access more transition effects (free or $5.99 for the paid version).

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Launchera1z

    GO Launcher EX boasts that over two hundred million people use its services, which makes sense given its sleek and streamlined presentation. What makes this launcher particularly interesting is how it gives you the ability to customize your homescreen in the exact way you want it without compromising your device’s performance.

    You also get access to thousands of free themes, meaning you won’t get tired of playing around with the look of your phone’s homescreen any time soon. Additionally, Go Launcher offers even more advanced features as a part of its paid option, such as multi-touch gestures and additional transition effects.

    2. Action Launcher – an innovative way to access the content you want faster (free or $4.99 for the paid version).

    launchera2z

      Action launcher is all about making it both interesting and easy to use all of your apps. It utilizes a number of clever graphical interfaces, which they dub “Quickdrawers” and “Shutters” to make it easier than ever before to access your apps whenever you need them.

      Additionally, Action Launcher includes a feature I first witnessed on my iPhone when I downloaded iOS7 — the theme of your phone changes based on the wallpaper you choose. So, no matter what wallpaper you select, Action Launcher will ensure that its theme’s colors match the image you selected as best it can manage.

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      3. Nova Launcher – a classic that still serves as a jack-of-all-trades today (free or $4.00 for the paid version).

      launchera3z

        While Nova Launcher may not be as snappy or as flashy as others, it gets the job done, as seen by the multitude of great reviews it has acquired over the years.

        As a one time user of Nova Launcher, I can attest to the fact that it is definitely a joy to use compared to something like TouchWiz. It is fast and offers enough customization options to keep you busy for weeks, if not months.

        4. Google Now Launcher – for those who want the stock Android experience (free).

        launchera4z

          Anyone who has used a Nexus device will be familiar with this launcher. It is essentially Google’s way of giving non-Nexus users a chance to get a sense of what the stock Android experience is like.

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          As such, there are few bells and whistles, at least compared to the stock launchers on say the Galaxy S5 or HTC One M8. The trade off is that the Google Now Launcher runs faster, and gives you far easier access to the Google ecosystem.

          5. Smart Launcher 2 – an automated launcher experience, with customization options for those who want to use them (free or $3.92 for the paid version).

          launchera5z

            Unlike some of the more advanced launchers on this list, Smart Launcher 2 is all about making life easy for you. As such, it automates a number of thing for your benefit, such as organizing apps based on the categories it determines them to be in, and providing you instant access to apps it notices you using frequently.

            For those looking to make their own customizations, Smart Launcher allows you to do that as well though its plugin system, which allows you to install additional features when you need them.

            While Smart Launcher 2 might not appeal to advanced users, those looking to dip their toes into the world of launchers might appreciate the simplicity offered here.

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            Conclusions

            At the end of the day, most launchers offer similar functions and features, with the main difference being how those two things are presented to you. While launchers are great tools and an awesome luxury available to those with Android devices, don’t download them unless you know what you are getting into.

            Indeed, if Samsung’s TouchWiz or HTC’s Sense launchers are working for you, don’t feel obligated to make a change. If, however, you know you want more out of your device and really want to customize your experience, feel free to go all out and try launchers until you find one that suits you.

            Have you downloaded a third party launcher onto your Android device? Do you suggest that others do the same? Comment below!

            Featured photo credit: HTC One/ Rob Bulmahn via flickr.com

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            Last Updated on February 15, 2019

            7 Tools to Help Keep Track of Goals and Habits Effectively

            7 Tools to Help Keep Track of Goals and Habits Effectively

            Now that 2011 is well underway and most people have fallen off the bandwagon when it comes to their New Year’s resolutions (myself included), it’s a good time to step back and take an honest look at our habits and the goals that we want to achieve.

            Something that I have learned over the past few years is that if you track something, be it your eating habits, exercise, writing time, work time, etc. you become aware of the reality of the situation. This is why most diet gurus tell you to track what you eat for a week so you have an awareness of the of how you really eat before you start your diet and exercise regimen.

            Tracking daily habits and progress towards goals is another way to see reality and create a way for you clearly review what you have accomplished over a set period of time. Tracking helps motivate you too; if I can make a change in my life and do it once a day for a period of time it makes me more apt to keep doing it.

            So, if you have some goals and habits in mind that need tracked, all you need is a tracking tool. Today we’ll look at 7 different tools to help you keep track of your habits and goals.

            Joe’s Goals

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              Joe’s Goals is a web-based tool that allows users to track their habits and goals in an easy to use interface. Users can add as many goals/habits as they want and also check multiple times per day for those “extra productive days”. Something that is unique about Joe’s Goals is the way that you can keep track of negative habits such as eating out, smoking, etc. This can help you visualize the good things that you are doing as well as the negative things that you are doing in your life.

              Joe’s Goals is free with a subscription version giving you no ads and the “latest version” for $12 a year.

              Daytum

                Daytum

                is an in depth way of counting things that you do during the day and then presenting them to you in many different reports and groups. With Daytum you can add several different items to different custom categories such as work, school, home, etc. to keep track of your habits in each focus area of your life.

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                Daytum is extremely in depth and there are a ton of settings for users to tweak. There is a free version that is pretty standard, but if you want more features and unlimited items and categories you’ll need Daytum Plus which is $4 a month.

                Excel or Numbers

                  If you are the spreadsheet number cruncher type and the thought of using someone else’s idea of how you should track your habits turns you off, then creating your own Excel/Numbers/Google spreadsheet is the way to go. Not only do you have pretty much limitless ways to view, enter, and manipulate your goal and habit data, but you have complete control over your stuff and can make it private.

                  What’s nice about spreadsheets is you can create reports and can customize your views in any way you see fit. Also, by using Dropbox, you can keep your tracker sheets anywhere you have a connection.

                  Evernote

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                    I must admit, I am an Evernote junky, mostly because this tool is so ubiquitous. There are several ways you can implement habit/goal tracking with Evernote. You won’t be able to get nifty reports and graphs and such, but you will be able to access your goal tracking anywhere your are, be it iPhone, Android, Mac, PC, or web. With Evernote you pretty much have no excuse for not entering your daily habit and goal information as it is available anywhere.

                    Evernote is free with a premium version available.

                    Access or Bento

                      If you like the idea of creating your own tracker via Excel or Numbers, you may be compelled to get even more creative with database tools like Access for Windows or Bento for Mac. These tools allow you to set up relational databases and even give you the option of setting up custom interfaces to interact with your data. Access is pretty powerful for personal database applications, and using it with other MS products, you can come up with some pretty awesome, in depth analysis and tracking of your habits and goals.

                      Bento is extremely powerful and user friendly. Also with Bento you can get the iPhone and iPad app to keep your data anywhere you go.

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                      You can check out Access and the Office Suite here and Bento here.

                      Analog Bonus: Pen and Paper

                      All these digital tools are pretty nifty and have all sorts of bells and whistles, but there are some people out there that still swear by a notebook and pen. Just like using spreadsheets or personal databases, pen and paper gives you ultimate freedom and control when it comes to your set up. It also doesn’t lock you into anyone else’s idea of just how you should track your habits.

                      Conclusion

                      I can’t necessarily recommend which tool is the best for tracking your personal habits and goals, as all of them have their quirks. What I can do however (yes, it’s a bit of a cop-out) is tell you that the tool to use is whatever works best for you. I personally keep track of my daily habits and personal goals with a combo Evernote for input and then a Google spreadsheet for long-term tracking.

                      What this all comes down to is not how or what tool you use, but finding what you are comfortable with and then getting busy with creating lasting habits and accomplishing short- and long-term goals.

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