Nova Launcher is still one of the most popular and widespread Android launches around, and although it is certainly packed, it also means that the launch vehicle was quite large and inflated, that’s when it’s time to make a drastic change and trim things up. What drives that change this time is that Nova rewrites around Launcher3 instead of the discontinued Launcher2, a change that has been necessary for a couple of years now.
This is a major update, and it’s not quite ready for the whole world yet – that’s why it’s starting a beta test through the Nova Launcher Discord channel – but it’s in pretty good shape so far from my beta experience. Most Nova features are the same or improved with the transition from Launcher2 base to Launcher3, but there are a few features that disappear when this update pushes out to the stable channel. There is no ETA when it can be, but I would bet it is at least a month away.
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If you prefer your changes, here’s the change log so far for Nova 7 beta:
- Radial folder icon layout
- Scrolling of vertical paginated folder
- Swipe down action on icons (requires Prime)
- Search box and Tab Bar in the drawer can be placed at the bottom
- More Nova search window and bar options
- Save APK popup menu action
- Improved handling of transforming icons into themes
- Possibility to disable haptic feedback on the whip of alert alerts
- So, so, so, so, so, so, so, so, so many bug fixes
A new feature that seems small, but can have a big impact, is the ability to set different apps / shortcuts for when you swipe down from a home screen folder instead of just when you swipe up. For example, you can swipe up from your phone app to retrieve Google Meet for the morning video call instead and swipe down to call your mom directly.
One area where we are seeing a lot of changes is the app drawer, and it starts with the elimination of app drawers that are horizontal sides, at least in part. You can still use app drawer tabs and swipe through them horizontally, but each tab is now a vertically scrolling list or grid instead of static pages you can browse. For most people, this is no big deal, but if you have the category of app drawers sorted by category, you can be sure that you can still use your tabs, and now you can even put the tab carousel at the bottom instead of the top, do it easier to use on taller phones.
There are similar options for the search field in the app drawer as well, and folders get new adjustments in both appearance and feel. I’m hoping that more changes will come when Nova 7 takes the road to a stable release – please, we need a central theme menu, so I do not have to change colors in ten different places when I change theme – but the changes we we see so far is very encouraging.
The new year is a great time to mix things up and try your hand at themes and customization, and if you want to start that journey with a new launch vehicle, it’s hard to beat Nova Launcher. After all, there is nothing that makes an old phone feel like a shiny new phone, just like a new launcher and home screen theme.