Within the depths of the Google play store, there exists a staggering amount of launchers, which allow for the customization of your phone’s home screen. Just as car enthusiasts can debate the interior of which car they like best, so can Android users have a heated discussion on which launcher fits their perfect needs and esthetic desires.
Fortunately, the mountain of choices means you will never run out of new ones to try! Don’t like a launcher? Uninstall it, and Google will gladly give you a 2-hour refund period for any loss of money you might have incurred. (Keep in mind, app purchases do not come with such fancy refund windows.)
Let’s focus on just one amazing launcher, which not only allows for native “OK Google” or so called hotword detection, but also gives you the ability to place a badge on specific apps for when they have a new notification. Many of you are familiar with this system on Windows Phone and iOS, and perhaps these are easier to glance at than opening your notification drawer.
The Awesome Benefit for Talkback Users.
There are two significant features for users of the Talkback screen reader. First, Nova Launcher not only gives you the ability to use “OK Google” with talkback enabled, it also will say “5 unread” next to an app with 5 new items. The former is important because not even Google’s own launcher provides this crucial ability. The latter also holds amazing value, as the ability for badges to be read out loud is quite rare.
Where To Get Nova Launcher And The Prime Key
Nova Launcher is made up of two components. The launcher itself is free, however the features we are focusing on need to be unlocked with a second app. This of course allows the developer to update the main application without updating your license key.
The launcher is here,
The prime key is here.
At the time of this writing, the key itself costs $3.99 USD, however that price is definitely worth it.
Configuring OK Google Detection.
Once you have installed both components to Nova, simply press your home key to bring up the launcher chooser panel on your device. Depending on your version of Android, you will be asked whether to just remember the choice “just once” or “always” — if you only wish to test out the launcher’s layout, you can press “just once” and confirm it again later.
On your main screen, you will find a menu button. You can also press your phone’s physical menu key to bring this up. If you are not able to locate it, no fear. Bring up the apps list by tapping the apps drawer icon, and find the “Nova settings” item. This will launch the settings, which will be a long complicated list.
Here, choose the icon titled “OK Google.” After flipping the switch to on, it is best to click on the “Google Settings” item to confirm that you indeed have the feature on in the search app itself.
Obviously, if you are not running Google Android 4.1 or above, you will not be able to use this feature.
Setting Up The Notification Badge Counter.
This is slightly more difficult, but nevertheless not super advanced. In that same settings place, navigate to “Unread counts”, where you will find a switch. The moment you flip it to “on”, you will be told to grab an app called TeslaUnread, which is the plug-in which will manage these notifications for you. It is free, and once installed, you should be able to return to that settings screen and turn on the feature without issues.
Once turned on, open up the plug-in settings by tapping on the “TeslaUnread settings” option. Here it’s best to configure the boxes next to each app, it will allow you to even specify which e-mail accounts you might want to see badges for.
Do You Have A Device Running Android 4.3 Or Later?
It gets way better if so. After Android 4.3, apps can “listen” for notifications if you have given this permission to them yourself. With the TeslaUnread plug-in, you can have any app display a badge, even if it does not have direct support in the general apps listed within the settings. Once you select “notification watcher”, you will be told to allow TeslaUnread notification access. Confirm this and agree to the warning, and then the fun can begin.
You should now go to “choose apps” and check those programs which you frequently see notifications from. These could include games, the Play Store with updates, and even your visual voicemail app. Keep in mind that Tweetings, Aquamail and a lot of other apps might already have the support to work with TeslaUnread. In those cases, using this notification watcher feature could be a conflict, so be mindful of what you check.
Clearing Up The Clutter By Hiding Apps In Your Drawer.
The TeslaUnread plug-in and the Nova launcher apps all leave an icon in your application’s list. Although the prime one will disappear after you open it, the other two are non-removable. Unless, of course, you use Nova Launcher’s handy drawer hiding feature.
To do this, open up the Nova Settings screen, and choose the Drawer item. Near the bottom of the resulting list there is a “Hide apps” item. Here, simply tap the boxes next to apps you do not want to see, and watch as all of them get sucked up after you hit the back button. TeslaUnread settings are easy enough to get to from within Nova’s own, however sometimes the menu button is harder to find in the launcher — so be mindful when hiding the Nova Settings icon.
Other Nifty Cool Features.
Nova will also allow you to choose the size of your app drawer and home screen grid. This is all customizable in the settings screen. It will also let you change scroll animations and speeds, which could free up many resources on older phones.
Import settings from other launchers.
This is important. If you used a main launcher, Nova can import settings such as icons and the dock from them. Widgets require Root access to import, however the process is quite simple and can transfer well from many major launchers. These include Google’s own “Now Launcher”, and the ones used in other Android distributions.
Nova is just one launcher alternative, and it is a direct competition to other popular ones such as Apex. With Talkback, I have found that it will not announce the page you are on within your app drawer as you scroll among them (though if using sounds, you can here the scrolling). Other than this minor inconvenience, Nova is a truly powerful launcher made to fit not only everyon’es personal tastes, but also disabilities and preferences. Want icons to have larger text to make it easier to read? No problem! You can configure colours, shadows, and many other elements which very few launchers would allow as a change. This is the beauty of Android, and Nova can really make it shine.