The Olauncher logo

Hands-on: Olauncher is probably the best launcher on Android today

In 2021, I made one of the poorest choices of my life, buying the Nokia 3.4. It’s a painfully slow device at times, so not running too many apps and sticking to lightweight apps is always a good thing. Earlier this week, I felt the urge to search for a minimalistic launcher again to see if I could speed up my phone and came across Olauncher, an open source launcher that offers you a nice, cool home screen that somehow makes my device feel a little snappy.

Olauncher interface

After installation, you are presented with four slots in which you can add your favorite apps. If you need more or less an option than this, you can long-press on the wallpaper and change the number of favorites to anything from zero to eight — I have six apps installed at the time of writing, a few messaging apps and a few side hustle apps I’d love to check out them to earn a little pocket money.

Since it’s a minimalistic launcher, the notification bar fades out, so you don’t get distracted, but you can easily see any incoming notifications by swiping down to open the full notifications interface. Swiping up will show all your installed apps as a long list, unlike other small launchers, Olauncher does something very special.

When you scroll up, you are presented with the keyboard to start searching for the app you want to open. To save time, the launcher will open the app you want halfway through typing once it’s the only option in your apps list. For example, if I want to open Facebook, I just type fac and the launcher will launch Facebook since there are no other apps on my device that start with “fac”.

Olauncher interface

As mentioned earlier, the launcher comes with a limited number of spaces on the home screen for your apps. To provide two openings, there are home screen shortcuts for opening the camera and the phone. Swiping from left to right opens the Phone app, and swiping the other way opens the Camera. I haven’t found myself accidentally invoking any of these shortcuts yet, so that’s promising.

Earlier today, I was reading more about the app in the Play Store and found out that it has a hidden apps feature. While other users of the launcher will probably know about it, people who don’t use it will have no clue where to look for your secret apps! To hide an app, just go to the apps list and long press. You will see an option to hide it, clicking on it will remove it from your apps list. To see your hidden apps you have to long press on the home screen and at the top of the settings menu tap on the “Olauncher” heading, this will show you any hidden apps if there are any.

Olauncher interface

Speaking of the settings menu, here you can enable features like showing the status bar, changing the wallpaper daily, and changing the position of your favorite apps list. There is also an option to view Olauncher’s public roadmap. On the roadmap page, Olauncher developer says adding new features isn’t too hard, but ensuring everything works across all device form factors is what takes time to get right. Hopefully, this thoughtful approach will ensure that Olauncher remains a great launcher.

From a development perspective, Olauncher is also good because It is open source. If you are a new programmer and want to contribute to building your coding experience, you are free to contribute to this project, if you want to build your own launcher, you can unpack the Olauncher project and get to work. Its open source nature also means that it is available for download at F-Droid App Store as well as Google Play Store – This makes it easy to download and install if your device is missing the Google Play Store.

Olauncher is very simple, so it will probably attract more people who prefer a simple interface. However, the overall experience is very good and this could broaden its appeal to a wider audience. I have the daily wallpaper option setting enabled on my phone and I find the wallpaper options to be very good and make excellent use of all the free space on the home screen, which generally makes the device really nice to look at.

If you give it a try, setup doesn’t take long, just go through the prompts to make it your default launcher and choose your favorite apps, and you’re good to go. Unless I discover something really annoying about this launcher, I’d probably say it’s my favorite launcher on Android.


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