Developer’s Spotlight: Launcher Pro’s Federico Carnales

Like many of you, I am a huge fan of Launcher Pro and Launcher Pro Plus. Swiping between screens is a real breeze, fast and fluid. Overall, it makes the stock launcher really seem like a joke.   This excellent piece of software fills in the missing holes of the standard Android launcher and much more.  Launcher Pro is available for Android 2.0 and above and can be found in the Android Market.

Luckily, Android Guys managed to grab some time with Launcher Pro’s developer recently and find out more about the man behind application. It was a great experience to meet the person behind one of my favorite apps. Read on for the interview!

Android Guys: What was your inspiration for Launcher Pro and Launcher Pro Plus?

Federico: My main inspiration was HTC Sense. Ever since I saw the demo videos of it, which was before owning my first Android phone, I knew I wanted to have it.

The problem was, when Android phones arrived here in Argentina, none of them had HTC Sense. I felt there was a huge market void, for people who wanted to have a Sense-like experience but didn’t have an HTC phone. So I set out to fill that void. The initial plan was to just take the stock Android launcher, add a couple of extra features, then create widgets to replace most of those in Sense.

With the huge amount of feature requests by users, that “couple of extra features” turned into a whole bunch of features, which delayed the creation of the widgets. About two months ago ago I finally decided to start coding the widgets, and the response so far has been great.

Android Guys: Why Android? Why not develop for iOS?

Federico: For one simple reason; I don’t like to have any one company deciding what I can develop and what I can’t. With Apple it’s like a gamble; you put in a lot of your time creating an app that will benefit a lot of users, and then Apple decides if your app will ever see the light of day. Since you can’t distribute your apps independently (aside from markets for jailbroken devices), Apple can at any time and for any reason, effectively put you out of business. That creates a hostile environment that I didn’t want to be a part of, so Android was the clear way to go.

Android Guys: What is the process you go through when developing? Why did you develop this app?

Federico: Tough one. I don’t really have a set process for developing, I just look at my “todo” list, pick one item, and work on it until it’s finished. When trying to decide what to pick form the list, I always think to myself things like “Will this benefit a majority of the users?”, “Will this have any impact on the app’s performance?”, “Will this use too many resources?”, “Will this potentially break other features?”, etc. That really helps prioritize the list and decide what should be worked on and what should be left for later on.

Android Guys: What is the future of Launcher Pro on Android? Any other apps in the pipeline?

Federico: A lot of Android tablets are being (or about to be) released, so we might see a version of LauncherPro tailored for tablets to make use of the extra screen real estate. Aside from that, more LauncherPro widgets and more features is all I have planned for now.

As for other apps, that’s definitely something I’d like to do, but I need more time for that. My main focus now is LauncherPro and I devote all my time to it. I want it to become the one app that every Android user should install as soon as they get a new phone.

Android Guys: How do you code for different phones? What is your process?

Federico: Luckily, Android is pretty good at adapting to different screen sizes and resolutions if you code your app right. The only problem is when manufacturers add their own skins and remove parts of stock Android. Case in point, the Droid X (2.1) is missing the QuickContact popup, so the People widget in LauncherPro Plus can’t use it, and there’s pretty much nothing I can do. Another example is that HTC Sense phones don’t add bookmark thumbnails into the database (like stock Android does) which means we cannot use them, so I had to code my own thumbnail generator for LP+.

Android Guys: Why should we buy the Plus version of Launcher Pro?

Federico: Three reasons come to mind:

1) You like the LauncherPro Plus features (LP widgets, resizing of widgets, and more to come soon) and want to use them.
2) You don’t have a use for the Plus features, but do use LauncherPro as your default launcher. The revenues from the Plus version pay my rent and expenses, which means I can continue developing it full time. You can consider your $2.99 a donation to support an app that you use every day (and it’s probably the most used app on your phone).
3) You are feeling generous and want to support Android developers, and dispel the notion that Android users are cheapskates who don’t buy apps.

Android Guys: What phone do you use right now?

Federico: A Nexus One. I also have a Motorola Milestone that use for testing every release of LauncherPro to make sure it still runs nice and fast in less powerful hardware (not that the Milestone/Droid is underpowered, but there is a very visible speed difference with the Nexus One)

Android Guys: Why do you think your application useful?

Federico: In Android, the launcher is usually the most used app in your phone. LauncherPro improves upon the stock launcher in lots of ways, which gives you a better overall experience with your Android phone.

Android Guys: Have you faced any issues while developing? What do you think of the tools Google provides to develop?

Federico: A few. Google doesn’t release new Android versions to developers before unleashing them onto the public, and the source code is not released until weeks after it’s been out in consumer’s devices. That means us developers have to scramble to update our apps to make them work with the new version, often without proper documentation about the changes, which makes it that much more difficult.

The API documentation could use a lot of work too. Many parts of the API are poorly documented, or not documented at all.

Android Guys: Where do you think Android is going?

Federico: World domination? It’s amazing how big Android has gotten, and how fast it’s growing. Not that I’m surprised, it’s an awesome operating system with a lot of freedom to create great apps. I think we’ll start seeing Android in a lot more devices. Phones, tablets, music players, eBook readers, set-top boxes, DVRs, TVs, printers, you name it. The low power requirements and ever-increasing app catalog make it a perfect fit for a lot of consumer devices.

For those who just finished reading this, check out Launcher Pro in the market . The Plus version is really worth it.  Overally, damn good application and a damn clever developer.  I should mention before this finishes, that the Plus version must be bought through as it is not in the market as a standalone app. Thanks folks!

  • John

    Launcher Pro is an awesome application. I have been using it for months on my Samsung Moment and it performs flawlessly. Even though I don’t use any of the widgets included with the Plus version I still bought it just so I can donate to the author for all of his hard work. When I upgrade phones in the near future this will be the first app that I install! Thanks for all of your effort and time.

  • bob

    i never saw the point of a launcher app – i mean what does it actually do?

    • Usman

      Honestly, I thought the same thing until a week or two ago. I tried a couple of the third party launchers, read a few reviews, and found LP to be the best out there. When I saw the widgets, it was a no brainer. Trust me… once you use Launcher Pro and see how much smoother it is than stock, and how much you can customize it, you’ll be hooked.

    • tomas

      Launcher Pro adds a ton of new awesome futures and a very customizable interface and is constantly updated and improved.

  • dwc

    I’m a LauncherProPlus user and it was indeed worth every cent. I have a droid Eris and it runs quite well on my old hardware. It allows me to use different ROM’s, but still have a functional, useful UI. I also use the LPP widgets.

  • Billl

    Would be nice if this were available for phones running 1.6 or something lower. The UI on the Behold 2 sucks and I am running Tag Home which is great too but I really wanted Launcher.

    • JaylanPHNX

      For lower-version phones, try LiveHome by Roger Davis (the free one). It may not be as good as LP, but it’s the best available for those of us stuck on 1.5. It runs fairly smoothly on my Cliq XT. It lags a bit, but not much more than MotoBlur, and the page-turn homescreen transition makes that totally tolerable since the page-turn effect is supposed to take a second. When I get my Vibrant, I’m going to make a serious comparison between Touchwiz3.0 and Launcher Pro.

  • zen kun

    amazing app, im using sense right now, and i can say LP its pretty cool same as sense even better in some stuffs, i have a nexus one and using CM 6 was werfect using visual task switcher WOW
    launcherPro the best launcher i never had on my hands 😀

  • Everett

    Thanks for this interview. This is just an awesome app. It has definitely contributed to my positive opinion of Android.

  • archboy

    I brought it just to support a really wonderful app.

    I was switching between this and ADW Launcher for a long time seeing how each developed. In the end LP won me mover for its speed, stability, extra dock bar and widgets( which I don’t really use). ADW went down that ‘theme’ path in my opinion. Which just wasn’t for me. I like the stock android and if i wanted to change my icon, I could use other app which does that.

  • This guy is a model example of what a good android developer is. He knows what it takes to make a good app and is consistent in making it better and better! The app itself is a must-have for every android device user.

  • Launcher Pro Plus was the first app i purchased for my phone. People who are not sure why it’s so cool, give the free version a try. When it comes down to it, the launcher is the most used app on your phone. having one that work and looks nice just makes using the phone so much better.

  • MyDixieWrecked

    Great interview guys! I’m a LauncherPro Plus user myself for my Samsung Vibrant. It’s just one of those apps you fall in love with once you’ve got all the settings set up the way you want. Federico should pat himself on the back for all the hard work that went into the app. Not only that, but also keeping up to date unlike other developers in the Market.

    I’ve got a new HTC G2 on order, and you can bet that I’ll be running LPP on that phone as well!

    Federico, if you see this, and ever in Miami, Fl. look me up. I’ll treat you to a few beers, and get you a lap dance.

    Thanks for the hard work!


  • Hands down, LauncherPro is the best app available for Android.

  • rainai

    LaunchePro is really amazing. And the developer, even more. I have the plus version even though I don’t use the widgets. I bought it just to show my support for this wonderful app. It is the first (and the only, for now) app I bought. Many thanks to the developer!

  • steven F

    I’ve tossed up between ADW and Launcher pro lately on the Galaxy S and Launcher Pro wins for me. It’s confidence in the product for me and the update cycle which has thus far brought some great new features and fixes from the previous release. As far as the widgets go they are easily the best for the Galaxy S imo great size, smooth scroll, FB, Twitter, Calendar….. all of them much better than stock Launcher I can’t even remember what it’s called lol.
    Keep it up Federico and thanks for a great desktop experience on my phone.

  • Tiny Turtle

    Nice interview. Launcher Pro Plus is such a huge improvement on Samsung’s “TouchWiz 3.0” on my Galaxy S (though TW3 really isn’t bad to start with).

    I sure hope Fede makes a lot of money these days because he sure is worth it!

  • Misha

    Hey guys! Even though I’m a LauncherProPlus user, i still desperately miss HTC widgets… Anyway, does anyone know what is the name of the weather widget used on the Nexus One visible right below the headline?

    Thanks in advance and all the best!

    • TPL

      Try “Fancy Widget”, as it seems VERY similar to the HTC Sense Clock/Weather widget.

  • beerbelly

    bought lpp the day federico released it and even though i have no use for the widgets it was worth every penny!

  • Marum0ri

    One of a few applications which Google should immediately purchase and integrate into Android, as it is *that* good, and *that* much better than Android’s stock equivalent. Frederico should be hired by Google. He clearly has the skill, ability and personality to be an asset to their Android developer team. I’d love to have his hands in the mix during the continuing development of all aspects of Android.

    Another application Google should incorporate into Android is Dialer One by Yermek Zhumagulov. This is how the stock Dialer *should* work.

  • Lenze Woods