Holo Launcher HD – App Review

Since getting my Google Nexus 7 tablet, I have been loving the pure Android experience of Jelly Bean.  It’s simple, clean and nice to look at.  I’m eager for it to roll out to my Samsung Galaxy S2, but I just don’t feel comfortable rooting and flashing my phone to get it now.  So I went looking for a launcher that gives me that Jelly Bean feeling, without potentially turning my phone into a brick.

Holo Launcher HD, from Mobint Software, is a free app in the Play Store that gives you the appearance and feeling of Jelly Bean, without rooting the device.  It’s highly customisable, and has that wonderful, clean look.  While it doesn’t bring all of the Jelly Bean features, like Project Butter and the funky notification bar abilities, you still get that overall taste of the Jelly Bean environment, with some really great features:-

  • Custom Desktop Pages/Grid: Up to 9 desktop pages and 10 x 10 grid (I’m using a 5 x 4 grid on my SGSII)
  • Custom Drawer Portrait/landscape Grid
  • Scrollable Dock: Up to 7 icons per page and up to 3 pages
  • Infinite Scrolling
  • Gestures: Swipe up/down on desktop to launch apps quickly
  • Customizable shortcut/folder icons
  • Customizable icon label colour
  • Apply icon packs, support ADW icon pack and Launcherpro icon pack
  • Desktop Previews: Pinch to access desktop previews
  • Backup and Restore: Backup and restore your settings and shortcuts
  • Other Customization Options: Keep in memory, home key action, hide apps in drawer, hide labels, etc

If you want a little more, then you can upgrade to the Holo Launcher Plus.  For $3.89, you can add features like:-

  • Unlimited configurable drawer tabs
  • Unread count notifications for call, sms and gmail
  • Customizable notification badge color
  • More desktop gestures: Pinch in/out, Two Finger Swipe and Double-tap
  • Dock icon Swipe up/down gestures
  • Support Go Launcher icon pack
  • More transition effects
  • Widgets overlapping
  • 1×1 widgets in dock
  • Other enhancement and customization options

As fantastic as it is, it’s not perfect. There are no app drawer folders, like in other launchers such as Go Launcher EX.  You also can’t install widgets from the widget tray without rooting the phone, which defeats the purpose of installing Holo Launcher HD in the first place.

But to get by until I upgrade to a Nexus phone, I’m quite happy with Holo Launcher HD to get that Jelly Bean experience.  It’s a nice, safe option for those of us who aren’t necessarily comfortable with playing around too much with the inner workings of our devices.

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About the author

Tia joined Ausdroid in 2012, having already established herself as a bit of a blogger in other sites around the ‘net. Her written style, and different perspective to some of the rest of us geeks, makes her presence on the... (read more)


  • http://www.facebook.com/jason.lockart Jason Lockart

    How are you a writer for an Android website yet you won’t even root your phone?

    • http://twitter.com/thenerdmama The Nerd Mama

      I don’t think that one requires the other. I’m hoping to bring other options to users who fall into the category of “non-rooters”.

      • http://twitter.com/Billchen0014 Billchen

        I think if you dont root your phone, chances are, you dont even care about newest android or holo themed launcher or project butter.

      • http://twitter.com/thenerdmama The Nerd Mama

        Well, you’d be mistaken. There are other circumstances that mean that I cannot be without a phone. Until I take receipt of a new phone, I can not run the risk of bricking my phone.

        I’ve always been curious about how rooting a phone can benefit the OS, regardless of adding custom ROMs. I have no desire to overclock my processor, as it works perfectly well performing the tasks I do on a daily basis.

        I don’t think that just because someone hasn’t rooted a phone, or loaded a custom ROM, or tried to overclock their processor, that it doesn’t mean they aren’t interested in the latest hardware, OS or other things that Google has got going on. It just means, maybe, that they are happy with the performance of their phone/OS the way it is. And there’s nothing wrong with that.

      • http://www.facebook.com/jason.lockart Jason Lockart

        But the fact that you mention you can’t “run the risk of bricking” your phone shows how little you know about one of the biggest advantages of the Android OS.

      • http://twitter.com/thenerdmama The Nerd Mama

        I’m curious as to why you think it’s the biggest advantage of the Android OS? I’m not saying it’s not, I’m just curious as to why you say it is.

      • http://www.facebook.com/jason.lockart Jason Lockart

        Late response, but I said “one of the biggest advantages of the Android OS.”, not the biggest advantage.

    • GreviousMcG

      What differences does it make??? Do you think that this site is a domain for geeks only? Get off your high horse!

    • http://ausdroid.net Chris Rowland (Team Ausdroid)

      We aren’t all into that side of android and to be honest I don’t think we need to be..

    • harpersneil

      What a “toff nosed” comment! I’ve rooted my device… doesn’t make me a programmer! We’re all standing on the shoulders of giants; remind yourself that.

  • doralingus

    I have only rooted one device, and that was a galaxy nexus (rooted jb since its not in aus yet) handed to me, and considering that I had a gs3 already as my main phone, I could play around with rooting etc. I am hestitant about rooting my main phone with the risks involved, even a 1% chance is still a risk. I don’t see how rooting makes you any more pro than those that don’t, the real pros are those that create the roms.

  • Guest

    I had a great sense of deja vu when reading this article- I went through the exact same steps!

    I too have an SGSII and since getting my hands on a Nexus 7, wanted more of a stock feel for my phone. Had a look at CM9 but was scared off by the chance of bricking. Ended up installing Apex Launcher instead and I am very happy with it! Very similar to the Holo Launcher in the review above, it’s got the feel of stock Android with added customisation but without the risk involved with flashing. Again with above, no widgets in the drawer without root but that doesn’t really bother me. Loving the added features like changing shortcut names and icons (l also added the ICS icon pack to change a few shortcut icons to stock) and I love folder system.

    And just adding my 2c, I am an avid android follower and consider myself an absolute tech head but like Tia, felt like the risk of flashing outweighed the pros in this case. Obviously we both thought the same way and just added a stock launcher for a near vanilla experience without the risk. You don’t need to have a rooted phone to be an enthusiast- anyone can quickly and easily root an android phone but by erring on the side of caution for the sake of keeping the phone functioning should not be looked down upon.

    • Anthonaut

      Accidentally posted this twice (see below). Can this be deleted please! :)

  • Guest

    I had a great sense of deja vu when reading this article- I went through the exact same thing!

    I too have an SGSII and since getting my hands on a Nexus 7, wanted
    more of a stock feel for my phone. Had a look at CM9 but was scared off
    by the chance of bricking. Ended up installing Apex Launcher instead and
    I am very happy with it! Very similar to the Holo Launcher in the
    review above, it’s got the feel of stock Android with added
    customisation but without the risk involved with flashing. Again with
    above, no widgets in the drawer without root but that doesn’t really
    bother me. Loving the added features like changing shortcut names and
    icons (l also added the ICS icon pack to change a few shortcut icons to
    stock) and I love folder system.

    And just adding my 2c to Jason’s comment below; I am an avid android follower and consider
    myself a real tech head but like Tia, felt like the risk of
    flashing outweighed the pros in this case. Obviously we both thought the
    same way and just installed a stock launcher for a near vanilla experience instead. You don’t need to have a rooted phone to be an
    enthusiast- anyone can quickly and easily root an android phone but by
    erring on the side of caution for the sake of ensuring your phone keeps functioning does not make you an inferior technology enthusiast or in Tia’s case, technology writer.

  • Guest

    I wanted the stock launcher on my SGSII and the best option I found was “Android 4.1 Jellybean Launcher”. Worth a look if you are after the stock Jellybean launcher.

  • Greg

    Even Jellybean devices can benefit from this one – I’ve been trying out this launcher on my Nexus 7 because the “Ultimate Rotation Control” seems to confuse some apps that try to switch to landscape (mostly games) such that the get the wrong screen dimensions. Having a launcher that natively supports landscape is a nice way to avoid that problem.

  • Ray of Perth

    I agree with the comments re “rooting” of your devices. If this process is so easy and 99% foolproof, why is it that less than 15% of Android users actually root their phones? No advantages for general users, or still too risky for most? I understand the “rooting” process requires you to back up everything on the phone as it is all deleted, and then you have to reload everything back on – what a process! If these Android “rooters” find it so easy and convenient to root Android phones, why is it that there is no-one out there doing this on an open business basis? I am sure if these “rooters” could guarantee the process (which they say is 99% foolproof), they would have a huge market for their skills. Where are you all?

    • Happy Rooter

      Are you serious? “I understand the rooting process” – no you do not. Unlocking the bootloader requires the device to be wiped, and only on the 2 most recent Nexus devices – Nexus 7 and Galaxy Nexus. Each device has a slightly different method to root, but generally involves flashing an insecure boot.img which in most cases does NOT require the device to be wiped.
      If you don’t know what rooting is or does and you’re too scared to try, that’s fine. But don’t misrepresent the people who do root their devices and the process itself in an effort to scare other people off. Do some reading and have a think about what you’re writing before you post it.