Editorial

Replacing TouchWiz UI and how to fully utilise the Samsung Android 4.0 builds

I am the proud owner of a Samsung Galaxy S II with a custom AOSP-themed Android 4.0 ROM, but if you’re one of those users who aren’t as literate with some of the advanced modifications of Android. Then this should help you to fully utilise Android 4.0 on your Samsung device for when the update is released (which should be at any time now).

What is the point of changing launchers?

Samsung favours its own interface called Touchwiz for Android - which to me and many others is very impractical. TouchWiz limits the user and the preferences they would prefer to have on their home screens. Users are also unable to customise or change the TouchWiz launcher applications into anything they please. This partially makes having Android 4.0 irrelevant because by incorporating the TouchWiz interface, it basically shares exactly same functionality traits as the TouchWiz Gingerbread ROMs.

Seeing the light: the Ice-cream Sandwich launcher

The Ice-cream Sandwich launcher was first featured on the Galaxy Nexus which was the first device to run Android 4.0 natively.  The Ice-cream Sandwich launcher is innovative in terms of efficiency and functionality.  Users are able to add their own apps into the dock and also create “portals” (which are folders with a fancy name). These portals can be organised, customised, removed, dragged out and placed on the home screen which is why the launcher is far superior to the TouchWiz launcher.

What do I need to know before installing this launcher?

Well for one, Android 4.0 has many revisions of the same launcher available and I’ve picked out two of them to discuss due to their availability on the Google Play store.  Initially, I was going to discuss Cyanogen’s Trebuchet launcher for 4.0, but soon realised that it wasn’t on the Play store and that it cannot be applied without root access – which is useless to users who have no knowledge of how to modify their device. These launchers mentioned will only work on Android 4.0 and will work on any device running the update – this includes other brands of smartphones such as HTC, LG and Huawei etc.

Apex launcher: a hefty collection of additional features for the stock Android look

The first launcher to talk about is the Apex launcher. The launcher is still in beta, but can be used without problems and even includes a huge amount of features which make the launcher superior to Google stock ICS launcher and these features are listed here.

Obviously, these features are optional and you can still use the launcher exactly how you would with the stock launcher – but the possibilities with this launcher are near enough endless – the infinite scrolling for the home screen,  drawer and launcher should tell you that.

Nova launcher: a similar taste but no quite as appealing

The next and final launcher I will briefly talk about is Nova and this launcher simply emphasises on the users freedom to organise applications and widgets more appropriately. However, this is probably the only difference between this and the Apex launcher discussed previously.

Nova is initially the same launcher as Apex but the developers expect you to purchase some of the features which the Apex launcher offers for free.

The choice is yours

To me, this was the deciding factor for the choice between various Android 4.0 launchers - Apex won hands down by being able to offer all features for free. However, it’s not all about Android 4.0 launchers; you can still install other third-party launchers like Launcher Pro, Go Launcher and ADW etc. To install a launcher including the ones mentioned throughout this editorial, install from the Google Play store, press the home button on your phone and set your default launcher to the one you just installed.

The screenshot below is roughly how your TouchWiz device will look like once you receive the 4.0 and if you decide to use the AOSP-based 4.0 launchers.

Image credits: Gizmodo

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One of the reasons i ditched my SGS2 for this nexus was to run a vanilla ICS, i don't play games so the weaker GPU is irrelevant to me. I found all the ICS leaks and the official release for the SGS2 to be unstable, battery draining versions. The complete opposite for the nexus.

ManMountain said,
One of the reasons i ditched my SGS2 for this nexus was to run a vanilla ICS, i don't play games so the weaker GPU is irrelevant to me. I found all the ICS leaks and the official release for the SGS2 to be unstable, battery draining versions. The complete opposite for the nexus.

The official release is very stable and improves the battery life for me, I use a odex rom with vertimus's ics theme from xda-dev forums it looks gorgeus.

Daniel_Pooh said,
This Launcher hardly makes your UI like ICS...
It does, minus the holo theme, notification bar and DPI. I have a completely stock looking AOSP build on my S II .

I've been a fan of go launcher when I had my Dell Streak, and got the Galaxy Note and immediately installed go launcher on it. The last minor GB update made it even better.
Zero lag.

Was using Launcher Pro and Go Launcher on my Android 2.x phone
After getting Android 4 I have tried Nova and Apex. Nova is less stable and got less features than Apex which is more stable and you can have more than 3 scrollable docks, ability to change every single icon on the homescreen and folders.

Tried Go Launcher on Android 4 as I like those widgets but it is just a mistake, too slow/sluggish, I managed to get widgets with similar style with Android Pro Widgets.
Example homescreen: http://shadow-xiii.deviantart....Faenza-Homescreen-289798536

So I agree, Apex is currently the best & only launcher for your Android 4 device.

SHADOW-XIII said,
Was using Launcher Pro and Go Launcher on my Android 2.x phone
After getting Android 4 I have tried Nova and Apex. Nova is less stable and got less features than Apex which is more stable and you can have more than 3 scrollable docks, ability to change every single icon on the homescreen and folders.

Tried Go Launcher on Android 4 as I like those widgets but it is just a mistake, too slow/sluggish, I managed to get widgets with similar style with Android Pro Widgets.
Example homescreen: http://shadow-xiii.deviantart....Faenza-Homescreen-289798536

So I agree, Apex is currently the best & only launcher for your Android 4 device.

I agree. I also like the Trebuchet launcher for CM9 but install requires root access so I didn't include it in the article - this intended for stock firmware users .These 4.0 launchers all look the same but just run differently but I definitely prefer the 4.0 launcher to 3rd-party ones - way smoother and efficient.

I like Go Launcher because it has the best themes & customization (the folders are a HUGE benefit), however it seems to lag a bit on my EVO 3D. My go-to launcher is always Launcher Pro Plus.