Since there seems to be an abundance of "NEWB" Android users getting the Photon, and there hasn't been a "full" explanation I've seen that really breaks down the use of Android UI's and all the possibilities, I thought that I would start a new thread explaining exactly what the deal is with Launcher/User Interface talk. And for many that have never ventured into the Android World, they have no clue that the way to judge an Android Phone should absolutely NOT be due to the Stock (e.g. OEM - Original Equipment Manufactured) launcher. That said, I put together a helpful "guide" about launchers.
What is a Launcher or User Interface (e.g. UI)?
- A Launcher/UI is commonly known as the "skin" that you'll see on the phone which includes the view of your homescreens (Originally 5 for Android and now seems to be 7), dock (bottom portion of the phone that usually includes phone, apps drawer, and others-depending on launcher manufacturer).
What are the OEM Launchers?
- Android's "Vanilla" launcher
is a term you'll see referred to that has a plain user interface that allows you to navigate through different homescreens, without "added" bells and whistles from the manufacturer. It's heavily preferred by Android owners that "Root" their phones and customize their phones significantly and also by some that don't like the fact that the Manufacturer's launchers tend to slow their Android phone down.
- HTC Android Phones = Sense UI.
Sense is highly rated by many of the "reviewers" because of it's integration of looks and usability. The customization of the latest version of Sense UI, especially has been given rave reviews.
- Samsung Android Phones = TouchWiz
. TouchWiz has had mixed reviews, but the looks are more similar to "vanilla," with touches of Samsung's customizations.
- Motorola Android Phones = Formerly known as MotoBlur
. On the Photon and Droid 3, Motorola did away with what was formerly their OEM UI called "MotoBlur." There are still hints of it, on the Droid 3 and Photon, but it does not have the same "lag" issues that MotoBlur was once known for. The more current UI of Motorola has a few bells and whistles integrated (especially with the Photon) that I'm sure you've all seen (e.g. Active Kickstand).
What is the purpose of using an "aftermarket" UI?
Aftermarket Launchers do not require a user to "root" their phone. The only purpose that Aftermarket Launchers have is to work as a "replacement" UI for the one that came standard on your Android phone. In our case, it's the Motorola Photon. If you want to "customize" your phone UI even further than from the capabilities provided by the manufacturer, aftermarket launchers are GREAT options that'll allow you to get the look/feel you want and also potentially provide more "practicality" for use.
What choices of "aftermarket" Launchers/UI's are there?
Here's a great thread that was started in the EVO forums that some of you can read through, if you've never experienced using an aftermarket launcher or are new to Android:
What Launcher Do You Prefer
List of Aftermarket Launchers w/ links to market page (READ Description of Launcher, prior to downloading)
- Launcher Pro
Launcher Pro Plus Unlocker
Launcher Pro Plus Sense 3.0 Skin Widget Theme
- Go Launcher Ex
- ADW Launcher
ADW Ex Paid Launcher
- ZEAM Launcher
- Gingerbread Launcher Free
- SPB Shell Launcher
SPB Shell Launcher Discussion Thread
- WAVE Launcher
- My Launcher
- JoltaTech Android 7 Launcher
- MIUI.ADW Launcher
- MIUI Launcher
- Original Android Launcher Non-Root
- Gesture Launcher
- Honeycomb Launcher
- Sense 3.0 Ginger Thyparancy
(It says it's compatible with the Photon, according to the market page, but the actual page for the app says it's only for Sense 3.0. Added this for those that want to see if it works).
- ICS Launcher (e.g. Ice Cream Sandwich Launcher
Lastly, if you're not completely set on using an aftermarket launcher, download this app that allows you to switch back and forth from your OEM launcher to the aftermarket launcher and vice versa:
- Homesmack Launcher Switcher
For those of you that also want to try some aftermarket Lockscreen apps, here are some that others are using and have recommended:
- Ripple Lock
- Agile Lock
- Agile Lock
- Goto Lockscreen
- Screen Suite Locker
Themes used by Streptovsky for ADW
- ADW Launcher
- ADW Theme Glow Legacy Red Pro - Mariux
- Glow Legacy Live Wallpaper Red - Mariux
- Smart Keyboard Pro
- Glow Legacy Red Keyboard Skin - Mariux