Changing the face of Android: how to make a smartphone look different

Our favourites

We’ve given you a lot to choose from, and we’ve even missed a few because, quite frankly, there are just so many out there. New launchers are popping up all the time, and the ones that really grab us we’re writing about.

But we do have our favourites, so if you’re at all curious what the GadgetGuy team uses and why, here it is…


Price: Free

Now owned by Yahoo, Aviate is easily one of the most different and most useful launchers available.

With a set of application shortcuts that can go as high as 10, collections of apps, and context aware screens that pop up at different times of the day — and usually when you need them — Aviate is by far our favourite, as it not just reacts to your schedule, but also offers a look at what’s around you.

Well worth checking out if you’re always on the move, and are tired of the look of other phones. Highly recommended.

Google Now Launcher

Google's "OK Google" accepting widget. It just stays there.

Price: Free

If you’ve ever wondered how different the interfaces of Sony, Samsung, HTC, and LG are from what Google originally planned (and keeps in its Nexus products), you’ll want to install the Google Now Launcher, as it offers pretty much Android the way Google thinks it should look.

The best part about Google’s Now Launcher isn’t the look, though, and is more about the search, which is always ready and waiting, and always updated, listening out on any screen for you to say “OK Google” just like if you owned a Motorola phone. Simply say “OK Google” and Google Now Launcher whirrs into action, listening to your commands the way we’re told everything in the future will be.


Price: Free

Playful and very unusual, the looks you can get from Themer really change the way a phone looks and feels, bringing it closer to what you find in a science fiction movie or TV show than what your standard phone manufacturer makes.

You might find the occasional crash here and there, and there’s even a possibility it won’t work on really new devices — LG G3, we’re looking at you — but if you can get it working, it’s worth seeing the sorts of designs you can get working on your phone, and then make some yourself!

Widget Home

Price: Free

We’ve grown to like this one because it’s so playful, offering a designer’s take on an operating system in a way that can be easily changed by you or I, and without a special scarf or beret (we’re making fun of GadgetGuy’s designer with that line).

In all seriousness, Widget Home offers some playful fonts and styles for a launcher, with your choice of apps to make it one of the launchers you’ll love using and showing off.

Big Launcher

Price: $10

Despite it’s big price, Big Launcher is one of those great ideas we wish manufacturers would pick up on, since it brings the big buttons from older phones to big touchscreens, making the new all-screen phones easier for seniors and children to grasp.

If you’ve been trying to work out how to get your relatives on the smartphone bandwagon and they’re struggling with the complexities of mobile operating systems, this is worth the try, as it offers the functionality they’ll understand with large text when they need it, likewise with your kids.