Another day, another disappointing Android launcher. I recently ran across Action Launcher Pro, and finally had time to install it and play around with it. It’s another one in a long line of Android launchers that promise to be different, and the way in which it is different is actually quite interesting.
One feature it has is called Covers, and allows you to merge single app shortcuts and folders into one; tap the icon to open the main app, swipe it down to open a folder. Great for a lot of things, like a phone icon that has a contacts folder, music icon that has a media app folder, and so on. The other unique feature is Shutters, which works in a similar fashion, but with widgets; tap to open the app, swipe to open the app’s widget in a pop-up.
This all sounded great, and works too, but like so many other unique launcher, it makes one very big mistake: it replaces features instead of adding them. I came into it from Apex Launcher, and was initially impressed to get the option to import from Apex. That process, however, did not work well. My Apex launcher setup is a dock-less 5×8 grid homescreen with custom icon sizes to fit the grid. These are concepts Action Launcher hasn’t heard of, and you can’t even configure the home screen beyond 5 x 6 icons!
Unfortunately, Action Launcher isn’t the first launcher to fail basic features in the name of unique ones. I called out Chameleon launcher for doing the same back in October, and it has done nothing to make it any less niche since then. It, like Action Launcher, is neat, but the whole idea of having to give up features you already have to get new ones don’t sit right with me. It’s like if the Galaxy S4 came without a camera to compensate for the higher resolution screen.
Considering how many launchers there are out there that are practically identical in terms of basic customization, I find it very weird that these innovative launchers completely skip that part of it. It would make more sense to start with the basics and then add to that, instead of the other way around. I hope someone takes on that business model soon, as Android launchers are more or less identical now compared to a few years ago, and I think it’s possible to develop them further without giving up what already works.