Customizability is one of the biggest advantages of the Android platform. Don’t like the default design of the UI (User Interface) or want to change the look and feel of the software? No worries. The Google Play Store has a several app launchers that help you get the desired results. Each launcher has its advantages over others. Some boost productivity while the rest rely on their customization options.
Talking about productivity, we have already covered the excellent Microsoft Launcher in the past. In this post, we will be comparing the fan-favorite Nova launcher and the new kid in the block called Lawnchair launcher.
Note: For this post, I've used the Lawnchair Launcher v2.0, which is currently in beta testing and should be available soon. You can download the beta version to try it.
Both the launchers are lean in terms of file size. The Nova launcher weighs around 5-6MB while the Lawnchair is about 4MB.
Note: The images on the left are of Lawnchair Launcher while the ones on the right side are of Nova Launcher.
Both the launchers offer a variety of themes. However, their approach is different. The Lawnchair launcher delivers a simple yet efficient solution with icon packs, icon shapes, Pixel Blue/System default/wallpaper based themes, blur effect, and so on.
The Nova launcher goes one step ahead and lets you customize every aspect of the UI including folders, dock, search bar, icons, and more.
While the majority folks will be satisfied with what Lawnchair offers, the ability to change animation speed and different animation styles to open or close apps gives Nova an edge in this category.
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Lawnchair Launcher lets you change the search bar style, icon color and size, number of columns and rows, and the ability to add full-width widgets. You can also turn on notification badges and preview similar to Pixel launcher and enable tap to sleep from the Desktop menu.
Nova gives options like transition effects, page indicator, and color choices along with more search bar styles.
The one thing that took me by surprise is the well-organized settings section of Lawnchair. Every option is well thought of and put exactly where it should belong. Nova, on the other hand, gives all the options right on the main page.
The dock functionality remains same on both launchers. Nova gives more options, such as the ability to change dock size, color, and transparency effects. However, both launchers provide the basic customizations for the dock like the number of icons, height scale, and icon size.
The fundamental customization options like hiding apps, changing icon sizes, colorizing names, column/row options, vertical/horizontal options are identical in both launchers.
Nova has the upper hand with the app drawer background options. You can choose from a variety of options like card background options, search bar style, and drawer groups. Lawnchair only offers white, black, and dark.
Nova Launcher reigns this space. Different gestures like swiping up and down, pinching in and out, two-finger swipes, double tap and many more let you choose from several options. It also includes apps and activity shortcuts and basic functions like open notification center, recent apps, etc.
Lawnchair launcher only gives Pinch overview, pull-down actions, and double tap options. That is where I feel Lawnchair needs to improve to take on Nova. If you are someone who uses gestures on a regular basis, go for Nova.
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Following iOS, Google started offering Notification badge support from Android 8.0 Oreo. Both Lawnchair and Nova have added identical functions. First, you need to give access to notifications to enable it. In Lawnchair, tap on the desktop and swipe down to Notification dots to turn on the option.
However, Nova lets you customize that as well. You can choose badge style, position, size, and color from the main settings menu.
Backup and Restore
Customizing the Android launcher to your liking isn’t a simple process. One needs to go through every option to check the changes. And no one wants to repeat the process when setting up a launcher from scratch.
Both the launchers offer backup and restore functionalities out of the box. Go to Settings > Backup to save the current setup and restore from the previous file.
Even here, Nova edges out Lawnchair with an Import option which lets you replicate the layout of other launchers directly to Nova.
Google Now Integration
Lawnchair Launcher nails this one. There is no hack to enable it in the settings. It's turned on by default. Just swipe left, and Google is ready to serve you with all the information.
Nova requires you to download Nova Google Companion. After installing it, head to Settings > Integration and turn on the Google Discover option to access Google Now on Home screen.
Lawnchair Launcher is free while the Nova has two variants — free and paid. The free version lacks Gestures, Unread counts, Icon swipes, Custom Drawer group and Hide apps functionality. For that, you will need to buy Nova Prime from the Play Store. It's a one-time purchase, and it's often on sale.
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Simplicity or Customization?
As you may have noticed in the list above, both the launchers have a different take on customization. The Lawnchair Launcher sticks to simplicity while Nova Launcher provides several options. If you are someone who wants a ready to go launcher, then go with Lawnchair. Folks seeking a heavily customizable launcher should probably opt for Nova.