Sunday, 7 August 2011

Newer is not always better: get GO Launcher EX v2.27 (with uncluttered menu) and v2.37 (with old folder layout)

GO Launcher EX is one of the best Android launchers. It's fast, it's got lots of customisation options, you can kill or uninstall apps right from the app drawer, and it's free.

It's also updated very frequently. Usually the updates bring useful new functions, kill old bugs, and improve the program.

But newer is not always better. Sometimes the updates add useless clutter, reduce functionality, or reduce stability of the app.

GO Launcher EX v2.28 introduced a new menu layout. The six menu entries of the old version turned into eight, with even more hidden behind a "more" button. The extra entries pointed to things you could already get by hitting "preferences" in the old menu, and made it a lot easier to spamvertise the app by recommending it to your friends and foes. It also added links to the GOStore, which is useless to most people because all the GO products are easy to find in the Android Market and from the GO preferences screen.

Somewhere in between v2.29 and 2.36 stability started to suffer. My old v2.27 always kept running, no matter what I did. But later versions often lost my icons and widgets, which then needed to get redrawn whenever I returned to my home screen from memory intensive apps like a web browser full of tabs.

GO Launcher EX v2.38 came with a new home screen folder layout. Whether the new folders look better or worse than the old ones is a matter of personal preference. Unfortunately the new folders hold less icons, so you need to do more horizontal scrolling in crowded folders.

If you don't like the new folder layout you may want to install GO Launcher v2.37, which is the last version with the old folders that hold more icons than the new ones. If you want the old uncluttered menu back then version 2.27 is for you.

If you go back to v2.27 there's a small price to pay: grid size is limited to a set of three: 4x4, 4x5, and 5x5. The custom grid sizes were introduced later (you get them in v2.37). The upcoming GO Launcher EX v2.50 will add a new method to add and remove apps to/from home screen folders, but that's such a minor issue that it's not worth the upgrade. Keep in mind that new themes, plugins and add-ons do not always work with old versions of GO Launcher EX.

To cut it short: get v2.37 if you want the old folder layout back, get v2.27 if you want the old folders and the old uncluttered six item menu.

GO Launcher EX in the Android Market (latest version only)
get GO Launcher EX v2.27 and v2.37 at android underground

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