User customization has been the biggest draw to Google’s Android among other key features that Apple’s iOS doesn’t offer.
iOS 14 comes close but there’s a lot of catching up to do.
Microsft Launcher is one that has caught my eye of late. You can see it in my review of the OPPO A92 and I loved the little additions it came with.
if you’ve been reading my reviews, you’ll notice that Nova Launcher has been my go-to launcher(check our Instagram posts – don’t forget to follow us).
Microsoft Launcher is now becoming my default third-party launcher.
It’s worth noting that Microsoft Launcher was formerly known as Arrow Launcher before it rebranded. It was actually made by an employee as part of the Microsoft Garage – the company’s outlet for experimental projects.
Microsoft added tweaks here and there that changes the overall look and feel that bring a few usability and user interface improvements on the Android home screen.
Here are some features I loved and hopefully, you will too:
Today’s phones have come with large displays and it can be hard to reach the quick settings from the top of the phone.
Microsoft Launcher has a shortcut dock that you swipe from the bottom of your home screen to not only ring up recently used apps but also toggle controls for Wi-Fi, Mobile data, Bluetooth, Torch, and the Brightness slider.
The good thing is that you can customise it more with adding more apps, contacts and widgets.
Customizable Home screen
Microsoft Launcher lets you customize the homescreen by adjusting the icon layout and size. Something I also noticed is the option to switch between swiping or scrolling through various homescreen. You can also change the way folders look.
There’s also an option to hide the status bar, lock the homescreen and change the icon appearance too.
Customizable App Drawer
After the shortcut dock, swiping up from the homescreen will show you the app drawer. With the launcher, you get customization features. On the top right corner, there are three dots which let you customize the app drawer.
Tapping on the dots will let you change the drawer layout either vertical or horizontally alphabetical. You can toggle off which apps to show either recent or new. You can also choose to hide recent apps.
This is a feature people with a focus on productivity will love. Timeline is available when you swipe right. Timeline sits alongside the News Feed tab and the Glance Feed.
With Timeline, you get to resume to past activities you have going on your laptop or desktop. You’ll have to be connected with your Microsoft account utilise it as it lists all of your activity on any device connected to your laptop.
You’ll see cards on your Timeline mostly if you use Microsoft products such as Word or Excel. Tapping on it will take you directly to the app o the action associated with the card. This comes in handy if you like staying productive on whatever screen you using the moment.
Glance is another useful feature from the Microsoft Launcher. You get a quick glance on your calendar activities or appointments for the day.
There’s a tasks’ card that uses Microsoft’s To-Do app but within the launcher. You can create, view edit and complete tasks directly in the launcher.
The Tasks card also now supports My Day and Flagged Emails from the Microsoft To-Do app.
Other widgets available in Glance include Documents, Frequently used apps, Microsoft Family, Sticky Notes, Screen Time, Recent activities and People.
You can choose to edit how the cards appear too.
If you’re a casual news reader or a binge reader, then the News tab is for you. The News Tab is actually a built-in version of the Microsoft News App. You select which country you want news from and then tweak the feed by picking topics that are of interest to you.
Topics range from Travel, Video, health, Travel, Autos, Tech, Sport or Entertainment.
Thi sis something I’ve been playing around with for a while now. Microsoft Launcher comes with a wallpaper app powered by Bing images.
If you use a Windows 10 laptop, you’ll notice each day you open your laptop, you’ll see a nice looking wallpaper. I always click the info bit to know more about it
These nice wallpapers can now be on your phone albeit optimized for the phone’s portrait orientation. There’s a handy widgety app that when you tap on it, rotates and showcases a new wallpaper too.
Last but not least is the awesome weather widget. The widget features the clock too. The weather widget shows 10-day forecast and hourly forecasts too.
You can also add new locations
My first smartphone was the Lumia 535 and was my first connection to the Microsoft ecosystem. Now that the company failed in making Windows phones and the Windows Mobile OS a thing, it’s trying to bridge the gap between smartphones and desktops with the Microsoft launcher.
If you use a lot of Microsoft products or services such as Office, Outlook or OneDrive, then Microsoft Launcher is fit for you as it connects all of them under one app.
Microsoft Launcher not only makes for a great hub for all things Microsoft on Android but also a great overall Launcher too.