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When using a normal computer I like to use a launcher to quickly launch applications and perform other tasks. Examples of such launchers are Quicksilver, Launchy, Gnome-Do and Kupfer (which I currently prefer). The power of these launchers is that you can easily open them with a shortcut, type a few characters to find the application and press enter to launch it.
I'm looking for a similar app for Android (I'm using a Nexus 7 with 4.2). I already found a few solutions, but they all have small shortcomings, so I'm still looking for the perfect solution:

  • Quickdroid: This Open Source app can search apps, contacts, music and a few other things. It also provides a 'quick launch' by adding a permanent notification to open Quickdroid. However it still feels as not fast enough, as you have to open the notification drawer, search for the quickdroid notification and touch it.
  • FAST App Search: This is a much simpler app (also Open Source), which only searches apps (no contacts etc, so that's it's weak point). It can however be configured to launch when dragging the home button from the bottom up to the center of the screen, thereby replacing Google Now.
  • Google Now: When dragging the home button up, the Nexus 7 will by default launch Google Now. This actually searches for apps, music, contacts etc and applications can add 'catalogs' to it. So in fact this is pretty much what I'm looking for. The problem here is that (1) After opening Google Now you need to tap the search field before you can start typing, (2) because of the google search suggestions, the actual matching applications are hidden behind the onscreen keyboard and (3) to really search all the 'catalogs' you need to tap 'search tablet'.
  • Google from homescreen: I can also press the google search button on the homescreen of the Nexus 7. The result is similar to opening Google Now, except that the search field immediately gets the cursor-focus. This obviously adds another step because you have to make the homescreen visible, and doesn't solve the search suggestions.

Is it possible to configure the 'drag the home button up'-action, to launch the google search, with the search field focused and immediately in tablet-search modus? This certainly feels like the best solution as it is already part of Android and apps can extend it by adding content.
Or are there other similar apps that can be configured to launch by a single tap/drag and search for apps, contacts, music, etc?

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Asking for a recommendation on "What X app to use to solve Y", is off-topic (Please read the FAQ) thanks :) –  t0mm13b Feb 26 '13 at 22:27
    
In essence, this question is actually about how I can efficiently use the tablet search functionality which is a part of Android (at least on the Nexus 7). If I rephrase the entire question to ask just that (without asking for app alternatives), would that qualify as a 'valid' android enthusiasts question? –  jeroen Feb 27 '13 at 12:48
1  
I think this question is fine. Unlike most "I need an app that does X" questions, this shows research why some apps don't suit and even concludes with a query as to if it is possible to configure Android to do what's desired without apps. –  Al E. Feb 27 '13 at 13:26
1  
The question is IMHO in a gray zone. He is not asking for a App that solves a problem but for a launcher with a particular feature, this and the good quality of the question make it on-topic in my eyes. OTOH the asked feature could also theoretically be provided not only by a launcher, but also by an app or a mod. Basically OP wanted to asked something like "How can I find and launch apps by simply typing their name?". Or am I wrong @jeron? Does this have to be provided by the launcher? –  Flow Mar 26 '13 at 11:01
    
@Flow you are completely correct. I simply want to launch apps by typing their name. –  jeroen Mar 27 '13 at 12:05

7 Answers 7

Have you not considered this application which actually overlays the existing launcher, and by using gestures such as tapping on the corner of the screen, to launch a certain app. The app is called SwipePad

Its a complement to the existing launchers out there on the market.

To quote:

SwipePad is a launcher panel overlay. With a single swipe action, you can launch anything from within any app. It's extraordinarily simple and intuitive to use:

  1. Touch down a pre-set edge of the screen;
  2. Move your finger towards the center of the screen so the pad will emerge;
  3. Release your finger on a specific slot to action.
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Thanks for the upvote and the bounty :) –  t0mm13b Mar 9 '13 at 23:06

going a slightly different route, have you considered an app like FlipLauncher? You get approx 24 slots to save shortcuts to apps. A quick slide of the finger from edge of the phone to the screen will launch one of the strips of apps, enabling you to launch an app from the strip. The beauty of this is it doesn't matter what app you are currently in, you can still launch one of your shortcut apps from the current app. When launched, using back arrow will take you to your previous app.

Example - IMDB, Browser or part of your shortcut apps. You are reading an article in your news reader about a great new movie, you want to see the trailer, so you launch the strip that contains your IMDB icon, press on it launching the IMDB app, watch the trailer, back arrow out of IMDB, and you go straight back to the article you were reading.

(I have no interest in this app, other than finding it has made using my phone quicker and easier and reduced the number of home pages I require and the number of times I go into the app drawer).

I know this isn't exactly what you are looking for, but I think it is a much quicker alternative that can cover you in most instances.

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I have considered using apps like the one you suggested, but that still feels limited. with an app such as QuickDroid you have everything at your fingertips. While it is true that it might be a little slower, just typing 2 or 3 characters already brings up the correct app/contact most of the time. And that works for the entire list of apps, while a solutions such as FlipLauncher only works for a limited list of apps. Once you want to use another you end up in the app list again, hunting for the correct icon. Thanks for the suggestion! –  jeroen Mar 8 '13 at 9:38

QuickDroid also has a widget. Have you tried that?

It seems like the search field is there in your home screen. It's not really (when you tap it to start typing, it opens the search screen), but looks nice at least...

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I tried the widget but in my opinion it doesn't add any useful functionality. I do have a shortcut to quickdroid on my homescreen (actually as part of DashClock). –  jeroen Mar 8 '13 at 9:39

To improve your first bullet, some custom launcher apps would allow you to open QuickDroid in a simple way. Nova Launcher Prime, which I am using right now, lets you set the action of a swipe on the homescreen to launch a custom app.

Other popular launchers that claim to allow gestures are Go Launcher, Apex Launcher, and Holo Launcher.

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This is indeed the solution I'm using now with SwipeSwitcher, as I described in my own answer. Thanks for the suggestion! –  jeroen Mar 8 '13 at 9:55
    
I like your solution even better since it can work on a stock launcher. Good find there with SwipeSwitcher! –  zinspire Mar 9 '13 at 5:21
up vote 0 down vote accepted

To answer my own question:
I found SwipeSwitcher Lite and am using this to easily launch QuickDroid. SwipeSwitcher is a very simple app which just adds a small invisble overlay on the left and right edges of the screen. It let's you configure each overlay to launch an app (or go the the previous/next app in the default configuration). So I configured the left edge to launch QuickDroid and kept the right edge at the default config.
Now I can quickly launch QuickDroid by swiping from the left edge of the screen. To launch an app all I do now is swipe, type 2 - 3 characters, and select the app. And as an added bonus, I can quickly go back to the previous app by swiping from the right edge of the screen. So far I really like this very simple solution.
It's similar to other suggested solutions such as FlipLauncher and SwipePad, except that SwipeSwitcher does not replace the homescreen and immediately launches one single app.

I also had a look at Google Search Launcher, as that promised to be exactly what I wanted to use the Android built-in Tablet search. However, this really just launches the Google Search, so it is still not in 'tablet search mode' by default and still shows search suggestions. It also makes the homesceeen inaccessible and was rather slow. It seemed promising but was a rather dissapointing.

Update: I just found another very nice solution. If you have Tasker installed, you can install Assistant Event for Tasker. Then you can create a task which will launch QuickDroid (or any app of your choice) when using the gesture which would normally open Google Now (the "Google Assistant" gesture).

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I've found App Dialler to be pretty quick.

T9 fuzzy(?) Searching app launcher

I have xposeds GravityBox pielauncher setup with an app dialler shortcut to launch from any app with a small gesture and single tap

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try conjure app on google play. might be similar to what you want. (lifehacker has an article on them).

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Your answer would be a lot more useful with a link to the app you're recommending. –  Dan Hulme Feb 7 at 10:13

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