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Unlike the iPhone, Google's Android system is capable of far-reaching customization options. Probably the most popular and easiest way of quickly customizing the look of the Android phone is through changing the system's launcher (or app-drawer). There are many popular options in this area and the likes of ADW launcher or Launcher Pro are probably the most famous examples.
In this area there is now a newcomer in the form of Go Launcher, which was quickly followed up by GO launcher EX, where ‘EX’ stands for Extra. Go Launcher EX is the further development from the original Go Launcher, which promises even further stability and speed to the end user.
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The Features GO Launcher EX for Android
Like most alternative launchers on Android, GO Launcher EX brings a large set of features over the native Android offering. These extras are really what make GO Launcher worthwhile.
To start with, GO Launcher's default dock looks very much like that of Launcher Pro, with a familiar five icons on the button. Scrolling left or right on the dock will even bring up an additional number of spots for docking your apps, with the amount depending on your preferences. Your preferences are the key concept with GO Launcher, as possibilities are truly far-reaching.
The vast amount of options is perhaps best illustrated with the amount of home screens possible, which can reach a total number of 30. Although it remains to be seen who will actually use that many, it is impressive nonetheless. More impressive is the fact that even with 30 home screens in place the phone doesn’t slow down.
The app launcher itself has a few tricks up its sleeve as well. Unique features of GO launcher EX are the two extra tabs that are in place when the app drawer is accessed. Besides the ‘All’ tab, which houses the apps, there is a ‘Recent’ and ‘Running’ tab. While the recent tab is pretty self-explanatory, the ‘Running’ tab pretty much serves as a task manager. It shows the apps currently running and a single press brings up the interaction possibilities with them. A user can close, lock, go to or check info for any of the apps. This feature is pretty great as it presents a shortcut to features that are usually harder to access with Android by default.
Like many other alternative launchers on Android, GO Launcher EX also supports themes, which are easily manageable through the preference pane. Themes can be installed through the market, and so far only themes designed by the GO Launcher developer itself are supported.
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Usability of GO Launcher EX
In the end it is all about usability of an alternative launcher as compared to the default offering. As in fact most Android cell phones on the market already have some sort of alternative launcher installed, GO launcher has to be better than most of them to convince the crowd. This is the area where GO launcher really excels.
As I mentioned before, GO Launcher EX does not slow down, even with 30 home screens installed. Although this may change slightly if every one of these screens is filled with widgets or apps, it is still an achievement to confidently build in the feature to allow such an amount. GO Launcher EX is a lightweight launcher that is meant to speed up your phone. As such it is capable of breathing life into old handsets as well, while bringing a vast amount of extras.
GO Launcher EX pretty much lets the user decide everything about how it behaves in certain situations. In the preference pane the user can go ahead and define all the aspects of the launcher, selecting every little detail to make sure the launcher behaves as needed. These changes can be made in the area of display, screen, dock, app drawer, operational or themes. A few examples of things that can be adjusted are; hiding the status bar, scrolling the wallpaper yes or no, changing the grid size for both the home screen and app drawer, scrolling orientation in the app drawer or showing/hiding the names under an app.
As the speed of GO Launcher is amongst the greatest of its kind, it is really up to the user to adjust the overall behavior of his or her device. As the possibilities are close to endless, usability is excellent and can be further adjusted to anybody’s liking.
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Minor Issues GO Launcher EX
For the most part GO Launcher EX is an excellent newcomer to the field of alternative launchers on Android. However, there are a few annoyances that have to be mentioned, although minor. First of all, dragging an app or widget from one screen to another will always trigger the ‘helicopter view’. Some will surely find this a positive aspect, but the annoying part is that this cannot be adjusted.
Secondly, long-pressing an app in the app drawer will always trigger the apps to go into editing mode. While this is a great feature by itself, the app cannot be directly added to a folder before having to manually drag it onto the home screen. Dragging an app to the home screen triggers the helicopter view again and doesn’t just allow you to paste the app on the last used screen. This is a bit of a sluggish process but not too bad once you get used to it. It is merely annoying as it is different to the default behavior of the Android system.
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GO Launcher EX, a Blessing to the Android System?
GO Launcher EX is an excellent addition to the Android launcher landscape, especially for its ease of use, the ability to revive an older handset and large amount of customization options. Combined with a great look that can be adjusted with themes, GO Launcher EX is a great option for anybody looking for a reliable alternative launcher, especially considering its free price tag in the Android Market.