Possibly the biggest pro to using Android is how the OS allows the user to really customize the experience. One of the easiest and very best ways to make the experience your own is by installing a third-party app launcher to give you quick access to your most-used apps and system functions. If you're impatient like me, you'll agree that swiping and tapping takes way too much time, right?
Wave Launcher from Roundup is one such launcher. Available for free from Google Play, Wave Launcher does not replace your App Drawer or home screen, but is simply a neat little add-on that can enhance your usage by giving give you super fast access to apps and shortcuts with a simple gesture.
As the name might suggest, Wave Launcher uses a wave metaphor as its launchpad for apps. It works like this: You trigger the wave via a swipe from the edge of the screen, drag your finger to highlight the app you want to open or function you want to perform, and remove your finger from the screen to launch the selected app. It’s all done in one fluid motion meaning you can get to your favorite apps in a simple swipe.
I found Wave Launcher to be incredibly efficient. It can be triggered from the home screen, within apps or even from the lock screen. There’s no real lag or delay when using it and once you get used to the habit if swiping into your most used apps, it becomes second nature. Having quick access to Shazam, direct dial to selected contacts, Voice Search, various social and messaging apps, quick directions home in Google Maps, and more, made it an extremely useful add-on and allowed me to switch between my frequently used apps in a pinch.
However, one of Wave Launcher’s main strengths lies in its customizability. There’s a lot the app can do and a lot the user can adjust to suit them and their usage best.
Of course, you can customize which apps, actions and widgets appear in Wave Launcher. You can take advantage of up to 12 spots on the wave and, with support for folders of ten, that means you can potentially have access to 120 apps with one gesture. I found the wave got a little crowded with 8 or more spots filled, but it’s good to know you can add more if that is your use case. Using folders can be a little fiddly — you have to swipe to show the wave, point to the folder, give it a little nudge upward to show the apps within, and then move left and right to select the one you’re after. I found Wave Launcher to be at its most efficient when not using folders, but I understand that many people will want access to as many apps and actions as possible.
You can choose which portion of the screen will be your gesture area to trigger Wave Launcher, adjust its positioning and size so that it doesn’t interfere with how you use your phone. You can place the gesture area on any edge of the screen, increase or decrease its length, and make it thicker or thinner meaning you can set it just where you like it. One great thing that Wave Launcher does by default is give the software keyboard precedence so you never have to worry about it interrupting your typing, even if your gesture area is on the lower part of the screen.
In Wave Launcher, you can alter the color and transparency of the wave itself, the icons and their respective app labels. There’s also support for ADW icon packs with more supported icons coming soon.
This customizabilty does mean that there is a lengthy instruction page and a lot of settings to scroll through, but I’d highly recommend doing so in order to really fine tune your Wave Launcher experience.
As for impact on battery life, Wave Launcher is pretty lightweight and not very intensive in terms of memory usage so I found that it didn’t affect battery life in a noticeable way, a huge plus.
However, I did experience a few crashes on my LG G3 running Lollipop. The most frustrating of which was when trying to add widgets to my wave — I was not able to achieve this as I received an error message every time I tried. Wave Launcher supports widgets in a really cool way — hovering them over the rest of the UI for a quick glance or full interaction — so I was disappointed not to be able to get this working on my device. Occasionally, the wave would also freeze on my screen, unusable, and cover up the UI beneath. This was easily fixed by launching the Wave Launcher app, but annoying the few times it happened.
If you’re looking for a fresh, light launcher for your apps, I highly recommend Wave Launcher. It’s simple to use, is a neat add-on that doesn’t interfere with the rest of your UI, can give you extremely quick access to all manner of apps and shortcuts, and is highly customizable to your needs and tastes. There are some minor bugs that need ironing out, but once you get into using Wave Launcher, it could quickly become your favorite way to get to your most used apps.
Wave Launcher is available free from Google Play and requires Android 4.2 and up.