If you are a reader of this site, and an Android enthusiast, your home screen launcher is probably run by one of three applications. The default Google Launcher is an excellent but simple choice that sees continued usage since it has the Google Now panel to the left of the home screen, something other launchers cannot currently easily accomplish. Otherwise, if customization is your forte then Action Launcher 3 or Nova Launcher are your go to launcher replacements. There are also a number of other players, but few that reach the level of notoriety that Action or Nova have reached.
These two have extensive customization options as well as their own individual features that have been perfected over the years. To say the features and innovation have peaked recently between these two isn’t a stretch though, and that’s not a terrible thing. These launchers are stable, fast, and pretty much everything you could want and need in a launcher. But we are tinkerers and always looking for the next thing, someone thinking just outside the box to deliver a different yet familiar experience… enter ASAP Launcher.
On the surface ASAP Launcher is fairly basic. It has a singular home screen with what appears to be funky looking widget up top and a row of icons below. Simple, right? Not so fast. Swipe to the left and right and you are presented with 4 information panes, 2 on each side and configurable, called “Cards” for Contacts, Weather, Calendar and To-Do. This application requires a number of permissions that you can allow or deny off these cards, and it needs those permissions to do some cool things. For instance, the calendar permission allows it to pull your Google Calendar information with an agenda style scroll card, Location allows a beautiful weather card to do its magic and so-on. The application also has a stunning materially designed interface that pulls all of the colors, animations, and look you would want. Colors can be customized, home screens rearranged or removed, and icon packs applied.
It also has a host of other tricks beyond the “Cards” as well. Like Action Launcher, ASAP utilizes an app drawer that is a slide out from the left edge. The app drawer is searchable and also includes hotspots by letter for quick scanning. I doubt you will be using it often as it also has an “Intelligent” app drawer that has the 5 apps from your bottom dock and 10 other recently used applications accessible by simply swiping up. Further, a right edge swipe has your quick settings for easy access and is customizable, especially for phones with larger displays where pulling from the top could be difficult. Best of all though, is that this launcher is fast, smooth, and just beautiful and it even has tablet support.
ASAP Launcher is very new, and therefore does have some work to do. Personally, I would love to see the ability to customize the primary widget more and for the notification pane beneath it to support full notification mirroring so I can work off my notifications right from the home screen. If that isn’t an option I would like the ability to use that space for icons or folders, and on the topic of folders I would love to see the ability to use folders and set custom icons for the folders for my dock. Likewise, the ability to set custom applications for the application launcher on each card would be beneficial as well. These are features some of the other launchers have and I think would greatly improve the experience. But these are growing pains, features I totally expect to see implemented in one form or another.
ASAP Launcher is an outstanding application that I highly recommend checking out. The Android Launcher space has been kind of stale recently, and while the big 3 are amazing applications it is refreshing to see someone thinking outside the box and really nailing the implementation. It does need more options for customization, but it is coming out of the gate with a fantastic start. There is a Pro version available for $1.42 that opens up a few more customization features, and honestly for less than a cup of coffee I recommend it. They also have a Google+ community that seems pretty active, check it out for feature requests and bug reports.