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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.