Android custom launcher

glennmen profile image Glenn Carremans ・1 min read

A client that I work for as a consultant/Android developer wants to have a custom Android launcher on their devices.

I know how to make an app that can be installed as a launcher. The technical difficulty that I am researching is having the custom changes but still keep the drag & drop behaviour and possibly also the app widgets that are available in Android.

I also know that it is possible to make this because there are already lots of 3rd party launcher applications available that also have this behaviour.

I did some research and found out that the drag & drop behaviour is very hard to make and I couldn't find any libraries that provide this behaviour. Different sources suggest to use the default launcher from the open source Android project and use that as a base to work on.

So here I am asking for some advice.
Should I try to make it myself or start with the default launcher from Android?
If I use the default Android launcher as a base, is it advised to use the latest version or for example use the Android Nougat version? I don't think there are any Android 8 or 9 features that my client wants and also not sure how backwards compatibly these version are.

Link to default Android launcher

I know this might be a long shot but any DEV community members that might have any experience with this or that might have some contacts in their social groups that could help me out? 😄

Any information or advice is welcome!

Posted on May 22 '19 by:

glennmen profile

Glenn Carremans


Native Android developer/Consultant for Appwise, I work on custom projects for clients. PHP/JS (web) developer in my freetime. Trying to keep learning in an ever changing tech world.


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It’s common for launchers to be based on the default one, and I think you should do that too. For which version you should use, ask your client what the oldest Android version they need to use it on is, and use the launcher version that came bundled with it.


Thanks for your input!
Can you elaborate why we should use the launcher version for the oldest supported device. Why not use the Android 7 launcher on an Android 5 device?
Android should be pretty backwards compatible in my experience and using an older launcher might not support some newer features.

Just trying to get as much information as possible 😉


Well I mean, you could base it on a later version, and test it on older ones, but if you later on find out that your base version doesn’t support a version that your client needs, you’ll have a problem.

Thanks for the advice! 😄 Indeed this will involve a lot of testing and tweaking and I hope that they are aware that this will be a long running project.

Also they asked if it was possible to change the Settings application, instead of a full screen view they would like to go to a "dialog window" view.
Also 2 options here:

  • Make it from scratch -> can make it exactly how you want but a lot more development and testing to make sure that all settings still work
  • Start from the base settings application -> changing it to non fullscreen views might also be a PITA 😅

I have told them to best focus on the launcher first and in the longterm look at the settings application.