Alternate Android Launcher

One big advantage Android devices have over Apple is their ability not only to to allow the user to completely customize their  home screens using widgets and icons, but to change the entire “launcher” app itself!  This is the interface delivering the experience which connects the user to their device and apps.  Yesterday, one of Google’s 10-cent paid app sale items was ADW Launcher EX.  I have owned this app for quite some time, and I’ve used it often, but kept running into a “deal-breaking” snag causing me to revert back to the stock Honeycomb Launcher on my Xoom.  So, even though I had already purchased it some time ago for full price, I clicked on it anyway.  Turns out, to my delight, it’s been updated quite a bit!  So once again I switched to it.  The changes are nice, and many of them target Honeycomb devices, and devices with faster speeds and large screens, so it’s a lot better than it used to be.

The main “deal breaker” I hit last time was still there, however:  I would layout one home page with all of the icons and widgets just the way I like them, then save all my settings in ADW’s settings page, then I would reboot.  Every time it came back up, every single widget would be missing, with the message “problem loading widget” in its place.  They would never load, so if I wanted that layout back I’d have to re-create my home page every time I rebooted.  Simply unacceptable.  But, since ADW has come so far, this time I took it a step further and googled the issue.  After a few minutes I found the answer in a Xoom forum.  Turns out that either Android itself or specifically the Xoom have problems when you place widgets on multiple launchers.  Not multiple home pages on the SAME launcher, but on multiple launchers.  My default home screen on both the stock launcher and on ADW were nearly identical, so I went back to the stock launcher and deleted all of my widgets on my home screens.  Then, once more, I re-built my default home screen in ADW.  After a reboot, voila!  My widgets reloaded perfectly!

With this now working, I am once again giving ADW a chance to be my launcher of choice.  So far so good.  It still has its quirks, just as all launchers do (including the stock launcher), but all the additional features and functions in it make it much more desirable and fun to use than the stock launcher, so I’m going with it.  I love having so many options!  I’ll never go back to the “KISS” method Apple uses.  Ever.

ADW is still just 10 cents this morning–if you don’t have it yet, you can’t go wrong, give it a shot.  Just remember to delete all of your widgets from your current launcher’s home screens before you start using it.