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Sponsored App Review: Solo Launcher – 7/28/15

July 28, 2015 - Written By Tom Dawson

Solo Launcher is yet another third-party homescreen app for Android. Solo Launcher hopes to be clean, smooth and configurable. With a fresh Material Design that helps it blend in with even the latest versions of Android, Solo Launcher ticks many of the right boxes, and its “DIY” approach makes customising your homescreen a whole lot easier. Creating folders, adding widgets and finding new wallpapers is all nice and easy with Solo Launcher. The search function can help users find apps on their phone, search text messages and of course search the web just as they would with the Google app. With so much on offer, let’s take a closer look and see how Solo Launcher shapes up, shall we?

As with other launchers on Android, you’ll need to start by downloading Solo Launcher from the Play Store, and then setting it as your default launcher.

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After a short introduction to the app, it’s made abundantly clear that Solo Launcher has fully embraced the new Material Design found in Android Lollipop, and the app does certainly look good. The default homepage layout is a little confusing, and frankly a little pushy with ads and suggestions.

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Instagram, WhatsApp and Subway Surfers are apps I have installed, but they’re not ones I use frequently, so why they are included on my first page out of the box? Things continue with the preconfigured folders you see above. The ‘Media’ folder is full of links to online resources, which some might find useful, but it would be nice to leave this up to the user, rather than keep it as default behaviour.

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On to something more positive though, and changing things using the “DIY” menu is really nice and easy. In the shot below I have added a couple of widgets, and honestly this is one of the easiest launchers I’ve used when it comes to customising things like widgets and such.

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From this same menu you can adjust all sorts of things about Solo Launcher, like the transitions as well as creating folders nice and easily as well.

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Speaking of apps, there is an app drawer here and it’s intuitive and easy to use, which is nice. It reminds me of the Android M launcher in the next version of Android, and it’s very easy to use. Thankfully, there are no ads or app suggestions included in this list.

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Other features of Solo Launcher include neat little personalization options like the ability to set your own photo as the app drawer’s icon.

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A key feature of Solo Launcher is the search feature, which gives you the ability to search the web as well as apps and games installed on your device.

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Searching the web with this is nice and easy as well, just as it is with the Google app.

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There are suggestions that are pushed here as well, but you can thankfully turn these off in the settings (but you cannot turn off app suggestions or app ads).

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This was a little sluggish on my device (even after using the built-in Solo Cleaner app) but it certainly worked, and those looking for new content can use this part of Solo Launcher to find new stuff fairly easily.

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Solo Launcher has its own built-in wallpaper offering, which is again put together using Material Design and works wonders.

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Solo Launcher is a smooth, Material Design launcher that offers up some of the functionality that feels missing in stock launchers; including Google’s own. It’s nice and easy to add widgets, create folders and organise your apps and wallpapers using Solo Launcher, and everything looks good. It’s definitely a good launcher, and features like the “DIY” feature work great, however there’s a common theme throughout; its tries to do too much. Subtle ads like app suggestions and sketchy search suggestions are things I simply don’t trust, and while you can turn off suggested keywords in the search settings, I want to see a universal on or off switch for ads and app suggestions. Even if that’s an in-app purchase of some sort. As well, the suggested Solo Cleaner app that just kills all running apps didn’t do much for me, either. Now, having said all of that, Solo Launcher does offer some excellent features and it’s one of the more straightforward launchers that I’ve used. Creating and maintaining a folder is nice and simple, and adding widgets through the “DIY” menu is great. And as I’ve said before, the Material Design theme here looks great, too.

Ratings

  • Speed (4/5) – To say it has so many features, Solo Launcher runs really quite well, but the search was not the fastest for me.
  • Theme (4/5) – The overall look and feel of Solo Launcher is modern, fresh and the Material Design theme looks great. Plus, with the built-in wallpaper app and theming options, there’s never a dull moment using Solo Launcher.
  • Features (4.5/5) – There’s so much on offer here, that Solo Launcher will no doubt do what you need it to, but ultimately the pushy ads and app suggestions let things down a little. Still, it has many more features than other launchers available.
  • Overall (4.5/5) – A solid, quality homescreen app, Solo Launcher has everything you could want, and it looks great with a Material Design that looks good and runs smoothly.

Pros

  • “DIY” feature neatly organizes all customization options into one pane of the app, and makes it really easy to change and add things to your homescreens.
  • Built-in search option gives users an easy way to find things on their device as well as search the web there and then from the homescreen.
  • Material Design gives Solo Launcher a great look and feel that many will be envious of.
  • Makes customizing your homescreen nice and easy, no matter what you want to do with it.

Cons

  • No way to turn off app suggestions, just a way to turn off search suggestions.
  • Solo Cleaner is just another task killer in disguise

All-in-all, Solo Launcher does have a lot to offer users of all kinds, and it looks great with a fresh Material Design. I didn’t appreciate all of the suggestions, but once these are cleaned from your homescreen you’re left with one of the better third-party launchers on Android, as well as one of the first to fully adopt Material Design.

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