As much as Android fans may want to ignore it, the simple fact is that there are many devices that don’t get updated to the latest version of Android in a reasonable amount of time, or sometimes ever. Personally, I remember being stuck on Android 2.2 with the Motorola Droid for a number of months after the announcement of Gingerbread, waiting eagerly for the update from either Verizon or the development community that would allow me to use the new OS. Although I’m not going to go into the fragmentation argument right now, for those affected by slow updates, Android does offer a partial solution in the form of custom launchers, which you can use without even rooting your device.
Custom launchers come in all shapes and sizes, but those of interest to users who are waiting on updates are the ones that are built on the stock Android launcher from the next version of Android. I used one based on the Gingerbread launcher source back when I was stuck on Froyo, and now users stuck on Gingerbread can do the same thing with Holo Launcher, a recently out-of-beta app based on the stock Ice Cream Sandwich source code. When putting together the application for Froyo devices, the developer did add a few extra features like custom drawer grids, infinite scrolling in the dock and homescreens, pinch for desktop previews, and some other small enhancements, but for the most part the launcher is true to stock Ice Cream Sandwich, and will make your device look a lot like it is running ICS without any custom ROMs or updates. All you have to do is download the app from Google Play.
I’ve personally been waiting quite a while for a Holo-themed launcher that I can use with the Nook Color, which is how I came across this app, but unfortunately this launcher is geared more towards phones. However, if you do have an Android 2.2 device and would like to get a taste of Ice Cream Sandwich without rooting, or even paying a dime, then just scan the QR code below or follow the source link to Google Play.
Download: Google Play