Make Android better with Nova Launcher

Manufacturers often tend to tweak Android to the bone and add things. Nova Launcher makes your device more personal and faster. This so-called home screen replacement lets you set up your Android device completely to your liking, from backgrounds and icons to the display of apps and animations.

1 Install Nova Launcher

Before we can get started with Nova Launcher, we first need to pick the homescreen replacement as an app from Google Play. With over 10 million downloads, it is one of the most popular launchers for Android. And for good reason: Nova Launcher is packed with options, works very smoothly and is available for free. If you want more options, you can get started with the paid Prime variant (see step 8), although the standard version is already very capable. When you press the home button on your device after downloading, a notification will appear to select a different start option or launcher. Choose Nova Launcher.

2 Launcher setup

The Nova Launcher home screen should now appear. If you have used the launcher before, you can select a backup and import previous settings. Otherwise, press Next one and choose the color scheme (light or dark) and how the application drawer is displayed and opened. These basic settings can always be changed at a later time via the settings of Nova Launcher. A nice thing about the launcher is that all menu items and texts are in Dutch. The interface also differs little from 'pure' Android, without unnecessary extras that slow down the user experience.

3 Customize desktop

You can open the Nova Launcher settings via the application overview. Here you can adjust various functions of the launcher, including the way icons, widgets and animations are displayed. Press Desktop / Desktop Grid to determine how many icons are shown per home screen. Of Icon layout you can control the size of icons even more precisely and adjust or hide the label text. With the option Persistent search bar show the Google search bar on every screen, if this is not already the case by default with your device. In the same menu you will find options for (infinite) scrolling, margins and locking.

4 Apps and Shortcuts

A handy feature of Nova Launcher is the presence of special widgets that allow you to set up apps and shortcuts in no time. Press a little longer on an empty spot on a home screen and choose Widgets. In addition to the usual widgets you will find here Nova action, which places a shortcut to functions such as the application drawer, settings or Google Assistant. Of Apps or folders you can quickly select multiple apps and, if desired, place them in separate folders. Activities are also shortcuts, but to very specific app parts and Android functions. The list of options that appears is huge and mainly intended for advanced users.

5 Customize icons

A new background already gives your device a different look, and Nova Launcher also offers the possibility to customize app icons. For a uniform look, we recommend choosing an icon pack from the Play Store. A good option is Whicons, which contains no fewer than 4000 minimalist, white icons for WhatsApp, Facebook and Gmail, for example. There are also over thirty matching backgrounds to choose from. Download Whicons from Google Play and go to Nova Settings / Appearance & Behavior. Choose Icon theme and select the desired package. The background color of the Application tray is white by default, so it is smart to adjust this color if you go for this icon pack.

6 Dock, night mode and backups

You can also give the dock at the bottom a personal touch. Go to Nova Launcher settings, choose dock and adjust, for example, the color, shape and transparency. In addition, you can provide the dock with extra pages, so that you can store more apps in it. The Night mode is useful for those who regularly check their smartphone before going to sleep: this mode darkens the interface colors and works automatically based on your location, or you switch it on manually. If you want to prevent your settings from being lost when you switch to another device, make a backup. You can store a backup locally, share it via email, or store it in the cloud with Google Drive.

Another launcher on your Huawei device

Setting up an alternative launcher is not easy on every Android phone. Normally, after installing a launcher, you can press the home button and set it up right away. If that doesn't work, you may have to dive into the (display) settings. The devices from Huawei and Honor take a different approach. They use Emotion UI, a skin that is difficult to remove. Emotion UI places all app icons on your home screen and completely restructures the settings window. If you're not so charmed by that, go to Settings / Apps and press the gear at the bottom (Advanced). Choose Launch / to start and select the launcher you want to use. A message will now appear claiming that using an alternative launcher is disastrous for your battery, data bundle and the safety of your device. That is nonsense in most cases. Don't be fooled and choose Modify. When installing a different or new launcher you have to go through the same steps.

7 Faster

Does your smartphone tend to stutter when scrolling through the interface? Even then it is a good idea to use Nova Launcher. The home screen replacement is better optimized and less heavy than the launchers with which many devices are supplied as standard. In addition, you can Appearance & behavior increase the scrolling and animation speed to make the interface feel even smoother and smoother. Choose Faster than the light and animations are limited in favor of speed.

8 Nova Launcher Prime

The capabilities we've discussed so far are all part of the free version of Nova Launcher. There is also a paid version that contains a number of useful extras. With Nova Launcher Prime (5.25 euros in Google Play) you can hide apps that you never use and make the application drawer clearer with tabs or folders. In addition, Prime includes more animations for scrolling and the option to display the number of unread messages for each app. The nicest addition, however, is that of gestures, see step 9.

9 Getting started with gestures

Gestures (gestures in Dutch) are the reason to upgrade to the paid version of Nova Launcher. This allows you to launch certain apps or actions much faster. Go to the settings and choose Gestures and input. Here you can associate certain actions with a double tap, swipe up or down. Think of opening the settings, recent apps or the camera. You can also set up two-finger gestures to open an app like Gmail, for example. The possibilities are endless and easy to customize if you prefer to use a different app or action.

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