Did you know Microsoft offers a launcher for Android OS? I did not and was quite surprised when I stumbled across this solution during my research on innovative launchers for the Android platform.
One might think that Microsoft would much rather try to drive consumers towards their mobile Windows platform, but there is a Microsoft division called “Microsoft Garage” and they deal with experimental products and projects. After building the “Next Lock Screen,” they got so much positive feedback on their work, which they decided to extend their scope by developing a launcher for Android.
If you are stuck in your default launcher or just never bothered to look for an alternative, you might want to try the Microsoft Arrow launcher for Android, of course, free of cost and free of advertising.
What is a launcher?
A launcher is a core element on how you interact with your Android device. Using Windows terminology, you could compare it with your Desktop. The launcher defines UI design along with a variety of functions aiming to improve UX and productivity. The tricky part is offering a beautiful UI and useful features without draining CPU, RAM, and battery too much.
Installing a new launcher is no different from installing just about any other random app from the Google Play Store or another source of apps. You install it, launch it, and tell your device to execute the “home command” with this app as new default, as you are prompted with such a question. Switching back to your previous launcher or uninstalling the launcher works just like with any other app as well. No root expert needed for this.
Staying organized and productive
One central aspect of Arrow is to offer you native organization and productivity tools like adding quick notes and managing a to-do list. On top of that, you can connect your Microsoft of Office 365 account and work in sync with your Windows environment and Office toolset.
It also allows you to connect your Wunderlist account and sync your tasks, reminders, plans and collaboration items. All these things are neatly embedded in a single page on your launcher. You can keep a good overview of what’s happening without panic-swapping through a variety of apps.
Beauty and power
The UI is modern, fresh and crisp. While it would be perfectly fine for any other developer, from Microsoft, I hoped for a bit of a Windows feeling on my Android device. It does not offer that, just in case you were looking for something that turns your Android into a Windows device. They are seemingly celebrating their Bing image repository for offering you beautiful wallpapers. They are beautiful, no doubt, but I do not think such a feature is worth celebrating it as “the beauty column” of their solution. At the end of the day, I just get my own wallpapers and not make use of the Bing search engine.
Other aspects they put their marketing on are “battery saving,” “efficiency,” and being “lightweight.” I cannot argue much with this. The Arrow launcher is efficient, and it feels lightweight. I hope that older smartphones would also work Arrow just as light, but it might now be the case. I could not say that the Arrow launcher is battery saving, however. It does not consume more from what I expect from a launcher, and it does not consume less than I would expect from a launcher. The term “battery saving” just does not apply here.
They are also marketing being very international because they offer Arrow in 13 different languages. Having many languages supported is great, but I would also consider that to be more than usual for an app or launcher nowadays to have each and every spot on the world fully localized and supported. Yes, we are talking about an experimental project, but we are also still talking about Microsoft. Being international is not something to put on your marketing flag. It is merely the means to reach as many users as possible.
If you are looking for other Android launchers, you should have an eye on the following three:
- Nova launcher – I remember this one from very early days of Android OS. It is still around and kicking with new features now and then.
- Aviate launcher – The Aviate launcher is brought to you by Yahoo and is an excellent choice if you want to sort and browse apps in a very sophisticated manner. Check our review here.
- MIUI launcher – You can find this one natively on devices from Chinese manufacturer Xiaomi. It has a great sense of design and functionality.
Arrow team forming their logo
The Microsoft Arrow launcher for Android is an attractive solution. It is modern, and it is fast. If you use a stock launcher, I strongly recommend you to check it out. If you already use a launcher, that you like, it is a 50-50 bet. You might prefer it, or you might go back to your previous launcher after a day.
To all who try it out, however, I recommend to test it for at least a day or two and connect your Microsoft accounts as well. As it learns from your usage, it can improve on its own, but that will take a little moment. The whole sense of productivity does not kick in fully if you do not. If you do not use any Microsoft tool whatsoever, this still might for you. It is free, and you have nothing to lose. Check it out, give it a go and share your thoughts with us, below in the comments!
Photo credit: Microsoft
Hi there and thanks for reading my article! I’m Chris the founder of TechAcute. I write about technology news and share experiences from my life in the enterprise world. Drop by on Twitter and say ‘hi’ sometime. 😉