Ever looked at a friends Android device and envied the home screen layout and theme on it, wishing you could just swap the home screen or replicate the same deal on your device? Android enthusiasts end up spending quite some time tweaking their home screen themes and layout to personalize it to their needs and aesthetic sense, and why not? This is the freedom we get with Android! But what if you were able to replicate home screens from around the world, without the need to have to follow up on complicated setup instructions as presently practiced. Enter Buzz Launcher – the home screen replacement app that brings crowdsourced themes to the home launcher arena. However, unlike themes seen before for launcher apps that more or less focus on just icons and wallpaper, Buzz Launcher themes can completely change the layout and behavior of your home screen whilst including widgets, and work in a smarter and more intuitive manner. In what follows, we take a closer look at the truly unique features of what could become one of the best home screen replacements apps out there for Android.
The home screens you see above were all replicated at the tap of a button, in addition to the the one-tap widget installation and setup. I’ll show you in a while what all that is about, but as you can see, the themes have the ability to be done away with the status bar, dock, and much more – the possibilities are virtually unlimited. Unfortunately, if you’re running anything lower than Android 4.0.3, Buzz Launcher will not work on your device.
Starting off, you have the default buzz launcher themes. Widgets or icons that are grayed out with trio of triangles are those that require to be downloaded, and tapping any of them would launch their page on Play Store. Once installed, the widget will take its place exactly as shown in the grayed-out preview and will be functional this time around. So whatever theme you download, this preview and consequently self adjusting widget system makes sure the user has the theme up and running without any hurdle in no time.
To install a new theme, hit the menu button on your device and select ‘Homepack Buzz’. An internet connection will be required for this to work. All the themes are presented in a well laid-out interface, with previews and statistics for downloads, likes and more.
When previewing a theme, all apps that have gone into its making – and that will consequently be required by you – are listed as well. From here, you can also share the theme via Facebook, Twitter, Google+ etc.
All downloaded themes can be accessed at ‘My Page’; however, that page isn’t accessible while offline, so changing a theme without an internet connection is not possible.
Another interesting feature found in the app is the ability to add a new theme as an additional home screen to your existing home screen setup. Once the resources for the theme are downloaded, all you have to do is select ‘Apply to my home’ to replace an existing homes screen setup, or ‘Add to my home’ to add it to the current home screen setup, making it accessible after scrolling past the screens in your current setup.
Some themes may do away with the existing dock bar, or theme it differently. If you want your dock bar to stay put as it was, hit the ‘Maintain’ tab when prompted, or choose ‘Apply new’ to let the theme work its own magic.
Created a theme for yourself and want to share it with the world? Buzz Launcher allows you to upload your themes to the the Homepack Buzz page, and after all, that’s what the whole concept of crowdsourcing themes in this launcher is all about. The themes you downloaded were created and uploaded by someone like you as well.
When uploading a theme, you can add a description to it, and select its category as well as style to help others easily find it in the relevant sections.
So what makes these themes tick? Unlike most launchers, Buzz Launcher is able to resize app icons as well, and and make them all fit the layout vertically, horizontally and more. Another defining feature of the launcher is its ability to somewhat customize each home screen independently of the ones surrounding it.
A collection of presets is available to choose your home screen grid from, but users can also manually customize this up to a 12×12 grid. Wallpapers can be assigned to each screen independently. The transition effect as the wallpapers blend into each other while you scroll between adjacent screens feels pretty fluid.
The makers of Buzz Launcher also developed Buzz Custom Widget that greatly compliments the launcher app, resulting in some of the beautiful widgets that you find in the crowdsourced themes. With plenty of customization options to offer, this app makes a fine tool to adjust any widget in a theme according to your preference.
The app goes on to offer the usual icon customization as well, where you can change icons for any apps. Also available are the icons that were downloaded with any of the themes that you have installed, but again, you will need an internet connection to access these.
The app drawer carries the vanilla Android 4+ look, so there’s nothing new there. However, hitting the top-left button will slide out a menu listing your most frequently used and most recently installed apps. You can also see the total number of installed apps and widgets, in addition to the number of themes (homepacks) that you have installed as well as icons and wallpapers you’ve created or applied in your themes.
In addition to a plethora of customization options offered in the aesthetics department, the developers have also added a handy customizable gestures feature in the app’s settings to add that final customization touch to your themed home screen.
Buzz Launcher is available for free on the Play Store and requires Android 4.0.3 or above.
- Crowdsourced theming
- Independent home screen customization
- Custom widget app
- UI can be a bit complicated for novices
- Downloaded themes are not accessible offline
- App drawer is pretty much stock