7.29.2010

ADW Launcher Review - How does it compare to Launcher Pro?

A Coke pinImage via Wikipedia
In what's turning out to be a Coke vs. Pepsi debate, ADW Launcher has joined Launcher Pro (reviewed here) as the most popular alternatives to the stock Android launcher. Today, I'll give the launcher its due time as I discuss the benefits of ADW, and why I liked it overall better than Launcher Pro.

Similar to Launcher Pro (and the stock launcher), ADW Launcher allows you to have up to seven home screens. What sets the two programs apart from the stock launcher is the ability to store shortcuts in a customizable dock at the bottom, as well as a lot of cool system and UI tweaks, mostly for appearance purposes.  ADW's dock allowed for two shortcuts to be placed to the left and right of the App Drawer (they call it left and right action buttons). Also, you can choose to install additional shortcuts on the far left and right (secondary left and right action buttons).

TIP: I was a bit confused as to how to add the secondary shortcuts at first. What you have to do is disable the "Desktop Dots" first and then the option to use the secondary buttons will be active.

Another thing that I liked about ADW was the dockbar. Similar to LP, the dockbar allows the user to store additional shortcuts in the dock as opposed to on a home screen. Again, I was confused at first by the implementation. I would swipe to launch the dockbar and would not be able to get the regular dock back. I quickly found out that I needed to drag some shortcuts into the dock bar.  Once I did that, it was smooth sailing and with organizing the shortcuts from there.

ADW features a home screen "Expose" type feature, and though I appreciate its design and inclusion, I tend not to use this feature as much in everyday usage. A few nice UI tweaks include the ability to resize widgets (may not work well with stock ones), a side scrolling app drawer (a la iPhone), and customize the swipe up/swipe down motion to open the app drawer, notification bar, or dockbar, which sets it apart from Launcher Pro.  In the end, it comes down to personal preference as to which dockbar style you like.  LP can arguably make your shortcuts more accessible with the ability to swipe through your dock, and is a bit more polished in this area. However, I preferred the clean look of ADW and the swipe functionality. ADW is well supported and consistently updated, and a very active developer makes it all possible.


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