News: This Launcher Lets You Zoom Through Apps & Open Them with One Touch

This Launcher Lets You Zoom Through Apps & Open Them with One Touch

Lens Launcher was one of the winners of 2106's Android Experiments I/O Challenge a few months ago, and with good reason—it gives us a new way to browse for apps on our Android phones. It's slightly reminiscent of how the Apple Watch does it, but even better.

Like already mentioned, the look and feel of Lens Launcher is quite similar to the layout you'd find on an Apple Watch, but there are a couple of differences.

App icons appear in linear rows and columns on Lens Launcher, rather than the honeycomb-esque grouping that Apple Watch uses. Secondly, when you scroll your finger around the screen in Lens Launcher, you get a fish-eye lens effect that zooms in on the app icon beneath your finger.

Lens Launcher also has a handful of settings that let you modify the appearance of the icons on your screen. There are sliders for lens diameter, minimum icon size, distortion factor, and scale factor so that you can size and shape your icons to your liking.

Launching apps is gesture-based, and feels pretty intuitive. You slide your finger over to the app you'd like to open, then release your finger to launch it.

However, there are a few drawbacks to Lens Launcher. It works better as a de facto app tray than a bonafide launcher at this point, since it doesn't support widgets. And it's kind of a hassle to use as an app tray, since starting Lens Launcher brings you directly to the settings screen every time. That's a lot of extra taps to get to a launcher/tray that you'd figure to be in for only two or three seconds. It might work better if opening the app took you directly to the icon matrix, and gave you a hamburger menu or floating action bubble to enter the settings.

Lens Launcher doesn't support custom icon packs either, so you'll be left looking at stock icons—which really isn't a big deal, unless you're still reeling from a certain photo sharing app's redesign.

Lens Launcher was designed by Nick Rout of South Africa, and is available for free from Google Play.

Cover image via Nick Rout/YouTube; screenshots by Eric Ramsley/Gadget Hacks

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