Android is the king of customization as far as mobile devices go. There’s no denying that. One of the most visible aspects of this customizability of Android devices has always been the ability to swap the home screen looks. No, iPhone users, not changing the wallpaper and putting app icons in ugly folders. Much more than that. Launchers.
With launchers, Android users are able to alter the look of their device’s home screens by adding more functionality, more home screens, playing around with the way app icons are displayed and much much more. In fact, in the blog post highlighting the changes that are the reason why you’re reading this, Microsoft notes as much: “Android phones have a feature that iPhones don’t – they allow customization of the “launcher” that’s displayed when you push the phone’s home button. How nice!”
Microsoft has, for the last two years, had one of the best third-party launchers on the Google Play Store. Arrow Launcher, developed by its industrious Garage team, lets users tweak their devices to their satisfaction while also giving Microsoft apps and services like Office and OneDrive a front-row seat.
Going forward, Arrow Launcher becomes Microsoft Launcher. That doesn’t sound like the most well-thought-out and crafted name but it should do as far as branding goes for the Redmond, Washington-based software giant.
Unlike the new Microsoft Edge for Android application which was also announced today, Microsoft Launcher is already available as a preview on the Google Play Store and as a free update on the same app store for existing users of Arrow Launcher.
Sign up to take Microsoft Launcher for a spin here and then download it immediately after from the Play Store. It’s a beta so things may at times not work as you expect them to but that’s the risk of being first to try out things before users of the other nearly 2 billion Android devices out there get to do so.
First hands-on with Microsoft Launcher
Other than the change in name, Microsoft Launcher is still pretty much Arrow Launcher, just whiter. Not much else has changed. Digging into its settings, you, however, get a Windows vibe than the feel-at-Android look of Arrow Launcher. Turning on the feed in Microsoft Launcher, just like in Arrow Launcher, results in your calendar entries, recently-accessed files, most used apps and news find their way to the left of your device’s home screen, where Google Now used to sit when Arrow Launcher debuted in 2015.
See the screenshot gallery below: