There comes a time in any Android user’s life where the need to try new things is stronger than the need to stick with the old and familiar. Sometimes it’s a great move, and other times we realize we knew better than to fix what’s not broken.
For the longest time, I’ve stuck with Go Launcher Ex for all my home screen customization needs, with the occasional flings with other newer, less robust launchers. But along came Atom Launcher. I was drawn to its fresh set of themes, among other things. Here’s why this little launcher got me completely enamored.
Atom Launcher has all the basic features a launcher can offer and any average user can ever need. It supports drag-and-drop for moving shortcuts from the app drawer to the home screen. It also offers multiple home screens and docks, as well as widgets and themes.
Switching from another launcher to Atom is very easy and not much of a hassle since you can import your existing home screen’s settings, including icons and widgets that are designed for other launchers.
Importing home screen settings from a previous launcher
You can add up to nine home screens, and choose to implement four to six grid layouts. The app drawer can be sorted, filtered or grouped into folders which are displayed in a thumbnail format, or a nice cascading view where you can swipe through app icons and launch them without opening the folder.
Swipe through icons or tap on the thumbnail to navigate folders
Pick a Theme
I saw one Atom theme on the Play Store and thought it was beautiful, and that’s how I originally came across Atom and decided to try it out. After getting the app, I installed the Atom Store — an additional app necessary to see all themes — and I was smitten.
While themes are not for everyone, there’s a good combination of free and paid ones that lean towards unique art designs, from whimsy to bold. This alone can draw you in and hold your interest enough to try each theme, until you eventually forget to go back to your old launcher.
Free light and dark themes from the Atom Store
More Integrated Features
Atom Launcher has a dedicated menu that appears as a header for displaying the time, date and other information like battery status. This is a small strip on the topmost part of the home screen, right under the status bar, that can be hidden or toggled to show other icons — mostly for accessing launcher settings. This feature renders clock widgets useless, and it gave me the freedom to sport a widget-less main home screen, which I prefer.
Atom’s dedicated menu is a sliding drawer on the top of the screen
Some themes support multiple wallpapers, and although that’s a great thing, it’s actually limited to images within that theme. You can’t add your own images to the mix, but you can omit ones from the theme’s built-in selection.
You can choose which images to show in multiple wallpaper mode
This didn’t bother me one bit, as I find that this benefits the theme’s consistency when it comes to the overall design. By not letting users add images, the theme is guaranteed to maintain the same look and feel all throughout.
However, adding your own background image is still possible with themes that do not have multiple wallpapers. You can even apply filters like Lomo, Water or Light. Swiping your thumb or finger from the bottom of your home screen upwards will show these options, along with Effect and Transparency.
Filters create more dramatic backgrounds
This feature can spell a world of difference when choosing a background image. For instance, a macro image of a leaf will go well with a Water filter, or a beach landscape with a Light filter, and so on.
Even with all these features, Atom Launcher is a relatively lightweight app, with the initial download only at 7.61 MB, plus the Atom Store at less than 3 MB. This generally means that it won’t take up too much of your device’s space, and will probably run faster than other hefty launchers. Sure enough, it’s the case with Atom. Swiping and navigating through screens felt a bit smoother and faster than with Go Launcher Ex.
Atom Launcher, like Go Launcher and all others of its kind, has its own set of widgets. Atom All In One Widgets is another additional download necessary if you want to use widgets designed specifically for it. There aren’t many, but those that are available boast a good quality. I found that the widgets went great with any theme I chose, mostly because they’re minimalist in design.
Minimalist widgets complement different themes
I particularly liked the calendar widgets. Its designs are simple yet elegant, and not too distracting when displayed on a home screen. There are four themes to choose from, with an option to add holidays for certain countries including Japan and the US.
As someone who has tried just about every launcher that came out, I’d say Atom Launcher is a huge contender against other more popular and established alternatives in the Play Store. It may not be for everyone, especially if you’re looking to tweak every little detail in your home screen. It is, however, for anyone who wants fresh themes, something beautiful to look at, with as little distractions as possible. Atom is also for anyone who wants a fast, lightweight launcher that works as nicely as it looks.