The best alternative launchers for Pixel Fold so far [Video]

The best alternative launchers for Pixel Fold so far [Video]

As my first full month with the Pixel Fold draws to a close, the biggest problem I’ve run into is home screen customization. Being an Android enthusiast, I find the Pixel Launcher to be useful but restrictive in what you can and can’t do. For example, you can’t remove At a Glance or the bottom search bar. With that in mind, here are the best Pixel Fold launchers for those who want to add some style to their home screen.

Total pitcher

Total Launcher is a highly customizable home screen alternative that offers maximum compatibility with Pixel Fold today.

It doesn’t limit you to the standard row/column layout that most launchers stick to. After the initial setup, you’re greeted with a blank canvas and a handful of widgets scattered about. Editing mode, where you make the most changes, is enabled by default. Pressing the plus button on the top right will open a menu where you can add layouts (or app grids), widgets (including your own), and graphics, such as images and icons.

Once you’ve selected a layout or widget, you can place it anywhere on your home screen just like you would on a desktop computer. Total Launcher is a “build your own home screen” type of launcher, and there are very few restrictions on where or how you can place these items. With a basic level of understanding, you can assemble a great home screen tailored to your taste.

The downside is that this launcher doesn’t have the “plug-and-play” luxury that others offer. By default, you have a pretty ugly blank canvas that requires dedicated time and inspiration of some kind to set it up however you like.

Professionals:

  • Almost unlimited possibilities
  • The free version is more than enough
  • Easy to use once you get used to it

Against:

  • Steep learning curve
  • It doesn’t have predefined home screen layouts to choose from
  • It can take some time to set up properly

Niagara pitcher

Niagara Launcher offers a stable and optimized experience on Pixel Fold that supports both displays. You get a simple and easy to use launcher that requires very little setup. The design should be very popular with minimalists given the clean white text layout, smooth animations, and polished experience.

Niagara places everything on one home screen, similar to a social media feed. A customizable widget at the top displays the time, date, weather, and battery percentage. Below that is a carousel for widgets that can be moved around with a horizontal swipe. Below are your favorite and frequently used applications, while accessing the entire application drawer is via a built-in global search or the alphabetical list on the right side.

Niagara also supports icon packs, notification summaries under app names, and a handful of other tweaks to customize the experience to suit your needs.

The only thing I don’t like is the cost of upgrading to a premium membership. The pro version is a one-time $30 surcharge, which gives you access to a small selection of features that revolve around fine-tuning the experience: pop-up widgets, custom fonts, and more in-depth Niagara widget tweaks.

Professionals:

  • Nice design
  • Lots of customization options
  • Well optimized for Pixel Fold

Against:

  • The Pro version is expensive
  • It needs more utility options

Apex Launcher

Apex Launcher is a traditional grid-based home screen with a wide variety of customization options.

It works decently well on the Pixel Fold’s internal and external screens, giving you a solid foundation to work from. Opening the launcher will greet you with the default home screen, which resembles the original Google Pixel layout from 2016. Apex also embraces the older Android 7.1 design language which is visible every time you open the settings.

In preferences, you can customize nearly every aspect of the user interface, like the app drawer, dock, swipe animations, home screen layout, and more. There’s also the ability to apply your own custom icon packs and customize gestures to perform a specific action. These offers make it very easy to create your own personalized home screen. It took me about half an hour of tweaking to get it to look in a way I was happy with.

An immediate red flag, however, was the demand to pay for a premium version. It starts at $3.99 for three months, $8.99 for a lifetime subscription, or a three-day free trial that charges you $5.99 a year thereafter. Extra features that come with a premium membership include additional app drawer customization, home screen transitions, app drawer folders, and notification badges. The most glaring benefit that shouldn’t even exist is the removal of ads that reportedly appear when you open a web browser (I haven’t seen any such ads in my two weeks of using it). While Apex Launcher is great in its customization ability, paying to remove such prevalent ads is a bad selling point.

Ultimately, Apex Launcher is a solid alternative for those who want to experience something similar to Pixel Launcher but want extra customization features.

Professionals:

  • Works well with indoor and outdoor displays
  • Highly customizable
  • Quick setup

Against:

  • Subscription required to remove ads
  • Glitches sometimes
  • Minor compatibility issues

The current state of Pixel Fold customization leaves users with very few options. Looking ahead, the Nova Launcher team said that “improved foldable stand is planned in a future update.” I can’t wait to test it and add more choices to the already small pool of options. Meanwhile, Android enthusiasts will have to wait for developers to slowly update their launchers to support the Pixel Fold.

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Image Source : 9to5google.com

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