If there was one major selling point for Android that I feel beats out the competition its personalization. The ability to customize your phone is the backbone of the kind of freedoms an Android user can take advantage of. Over the years of owning Android devices, I have customized them to where they no longer resemble the stock experience that I originally bought. There is one category of apps that let you take your Android device to the next level, no root required. This category is the home replacement launcher and today I’ll be reviewing Nova Prime.
Nova Launcher is one of the most popular home replacement launchers in the Google Play Store. The free and Prime version combine for over 76k downloads. The ad supported free version has limited features and while the $4.99 Prime version is ad free and loaded with options. Installing Nova is like installing any other app and requires no special steps to get started. Once installed, you’ll be prompted to select a default launcher when you hit the home button. You can either select “make default” or “use only once”, its that simple. For this review, I’ll be talking about the Prime version. Diving into Nova Launcher you’ll be greeted by a very user friendly menu. The main settings page lets you make changes to the home screens, the app drawer, dock and folders. There are also added options for even deeper visual customization, unread counts for notifications and gesture
The heart and soul of Nova Launcher resides in its home screen options. Here you can change the grid size, height and width margins, number of screens, search bar, wallpaper scrolling, scroll effect of the onscreen apps and widgets, and widget overlapping. Widget overlapping is one of the best features of Nova. It allows a static widget to coexist in the same space as another widget or app icon. Anyone who uses UCCW is familiar with this, as it used to create incredible themes. Nova also lets you change the icons for each app being used on the home screen. If you have an icon pack that matches your wall paper, you can simply long press the app icon and change it. I myself have used up to 3 different app icon packs at one time on my home screens to signify a difference between the types of apps I’m displaying. It works great when using a multicolored backgrounds.
The app drawer is also very customizable. You have the option of several different display styles to choose from as well as using a whole new icon theme to apply to all your icons. You may also set different transparencies and scroll effects when navigating the drawer. You also have the ability of grouping apps together instead of having them all display in alphabetical order.
One of the things I like about Nova is it has a customizable dock. You can set it to have multiple dock pages or have no dock at all. Like the home screen, you can customize the icons in the dock to use whatever icon pack is compatible. Often times my dock icons are a different style from my home screen icons.
There isn’t much to get excited over the folder options. You have your choice of different folder styles and previews, but they all pretty much look the same once the folder is open. It would have been nice to see a little bit more customization available when using folders.
Look and Feel
This option lets you do a little more tinkering with how Nova will run. You can change the color theme, icon size and the scroll/animation speeds. You may also hide you notification bar and change the icon theme for the app drawer.
Nova also allows you to use swipe and tap gestures to perform certain actions. These actions can include opening the app drawer, revealing a hidden notification tray or simply opening an app. There are several different swipe options to choose from to allow you to navigate you device almost entirely by gesture if you so desired.
This option lets you add notification badges to specific apps such as calls, sms and email. The badges are similar to what you would get on iOS, but are customizable.
I have used more expensive launchers, but find myself always coming back to Nova. Its has the most freedom of any launcher I have used and has been a standard among newer launchers coming out. Its definitely worth the price of admission.