I have tried pretty much every launcher on the market and I always come back to ADW EX. ADW EX was probably one of the first android apps I purchased and it was worth every penny. There are some pretty good alternatives but in my opinion ADW EX is the best overall launcher. There are other good ones to mention like Go Launcher and Launcher Pro but I have always found ADW ex to be smoother and more fluid/polished than other launchers.
I use ADW EX with screen transition animations to make it appealing to the eye and in my opinion other launcher’s transition animations are more jerky and not as smooth. I would have to say Go Launcher has become my 2nd favorite launcher only because it’s one of the most customizable FREE launchers out there but I do still prefer ADW EX over all others as I feel it’s a more polished and matured app. I always test out different launchers but always feel they lack in one area or another and I always seem to come back to ADW EX.
The developer Ander Webbs also provides excellent support, especially since he is one single guy to handling it all. I have always gotten quick responses from him about issues I had, to report bugs and just ask general questions. I once sent an email to another launcher’s “team” and I still have yet to receive a response months later.
The newest update to ADW EX was a big one, It added a couple different screen transitions, incorporated ICS style folders and added a feature where you can have unlimited dock icons and paginate through them. At first I didn’t use this feature but I have to say after I started it was the best thing ever! I have my main dock, then a camera/gallery dock, a music dock, media dock and for added accessibility I added an app drawer icon on every page so from anyone of the docks I have easy access to my app drawer. It is a really useful feature and now cant imagine ADW EX without it.
Showing the screen animations:
I love the amount of customizations that come with the newest version (as well as the level of customizations in previous versions)
I have been in touch with the Developer a few times over the past year or so since I’ve been using ADW EX and when I had the idea to do a piece on the nice changes in ADW I also thought it would be cool to interview the developer Ander Webbs. I’d really like to thank Ander for taking the time to answer my questions, I know he is a very busy person so I appreciate the time he took to respond. So lets get to it :)
Patrick Hill: How long have you been programming?
Ander Webbs: For more than 15 years, since Basic with my old beloved Amsterdam CPC :p
PH: When did you first get into Android development?
AW: About 3 years ago when an HTC Magic came to my hands
PH: When did you come up with the idea for adw ex?
AW: When users started demanding features I didn’t like for myself :P
PH: What were some of the biggest challenges when developing adw?
AW: Lack of “real” Java knowledge would be the biggest one. Android app memory constraints and some minor framework quirks could be another one…
PH: Since you are doing this on your own, and since adw is such a popular app, do you find it hard to keep up with support?
AW: Oh, yes. I’ve tried numerous ways of doing it but haven’t found the proper one yet… My inbox is completely overcrowded :(
PH: Has ADW now become a full time job for you or do you still have a “day” job?
AW: ADW granted me a full time developer job just days before releasing ADW EX. I can’t stop loving android for it :)
PH: ADW has been used on cyanogen mod for a while now. How did that come about?
AW: Just good luck and the fact of being the only open source launcher out there for the time they took the decision. Cyanogenmod brought ADW to the top and can’t thank the team enough for it…
PH: It has been reported that cyanogen mod is using a new launcher for cm9. Did you have any
part in that? If not, did the cm crew approach you asking if you would like to be involved?
AW: Yup, it was the proper way of handling the new Android release. ADW code base is old and tries to maintain compatibility down to android 1.6, CM9 needed a new codebase for the awesome additions to the platform. Steve sent me an email long ago regarding a future version and I asked them for a “meeting” to talk about the approach. Sadly, our different timezones, the fact I was not able to be available over IRC, my new job taking up all my free time, etc… made that meeting impossible to set up. They finally, as a better organized team, started to work on
the new launcher, and I’d love to participate with code as soon as I get free time and manage to understand Gerrit :)
PH: The most recent version of adw in my opinion is the best yet. What other features do you have planned for the next release?
AW: My todo list is full of requests and bug fixes, but nothing really outstanding afaik :P
PH: What do you think sets your launcher apart from the others available?
AW: Nothing really :P
There are lots of cool ones, with great ideas put to work. Some are faster but less feature packed, some are greatly feature packed but kind of slower (for me, on my devices)… In the end, the best part is having lots of choices out there :)
PH: Do you have any other apps in the works?
AW: I can only dev apps for my current employer so no own apps at the moment :(
PH: What advice would you have for inspiring developers out there?
AW: Read code, not only books. Read the android source, try and learn. Read opensource libraries, try and go on learning. Make apps you want to have, even if there are tons of apps doing the same, make your custom one (even it’s just for personal usage). Coding a lot is the only way to code :)
So there you have it :) If you have not checked out ADW EX or have only checked out the free version I urge you to give it a try. I think once you use it, it will make it hard for you to use anything else :)