Hola Launcher is a well-rounded Android launcher worth your time (review)

Overview

Hola Launcher is a robust and feature-rich Android home-screen app and launcher with a plethora of content, all for free. Hola Launcher offers free themes and icons, wallpapers, add-on applications for further functionality and even has its own widgets available.

DeveloperHolaverse

Price: Free (Ad supported, In-App Purchases)

Setup

Setup for Hola Launcher is fairly easy. After you have downloaded from the Google Play Store, press your phone’s home button. You will then be asked to choose a launcher to complete the action; choose Hola Launcher. At this point, Hola Launcher will walk you through initial setup.

Features

Hola Launcher, like most custom launchers, offers a great deal of customization that your stock launcher that comes with your Android device, simply does not. Hola Launcher gives you this level of customization through offering you options like:

  • Free themes and wallpapers
  • Desktop customization (desktop grid size, icon size, label size, etc.)
  • Gestures
  • Widgets
  • Animations and effects

If you can think of it, more than likely Hola Launcher will allow you to customize it.

Screenshot_2016-02-23-19-37-22

Look, Feel and Impressions

I’m pretty particular when it comes to my launcher. I guess I would consider myself a purist in that I prefer my launchers to stay as close to stock Android as possible.  For the most part Hola Launcher provides the options I need to do this.

When you read the Launcher’s description, Hola Team calls Hola Launcher “lightweight,” “small,” and “simple.” I’m not sure I totally agree with this description. I certainly do not agree that Hola Launcher is lightweight and small. Quite the contrary, in fact. I think Hola Team is trying to give the impression of something big in a small package but I don’t think that’s what is being delivered. Instead, I would call Hola Launcher “robust,” “feature-rich,” but also “easy on system resources.”

Hola Launcher is supposed to be robust, yet not taxing on your device. For the most part this was the case for me. I did run into some performance issues with some of the themes, however, generally my phone ran like a champ while using Hola Launcher. For reference, I tested Hola Launcher on a ZTE ZMAX 2.

Graphically, or aesthetically, Hola Launcher looks fantastic! I would even go so far as to call it cute. Why? Little things such as random animations help me to see how truly adorable this launcher is.

For example, the default Clock/Weather Widget that comes with the launcher had a cute little animation that drew a cloud on the widget when loading the weather.

Another example is the page indicators above the dock. When you switched to a new desktop page, they sort of…melted into each other. It wasn’t just a boring, blink blink blink animation. This launcher has pizazz and style. It’s adorable.

There are also several hidden features in Hola Launcher that add to its charm and usability. I cannot begin to cover them all in this review so I’ll only mention a few that are very significant.

Hola Shine
Hola Shine

One of the first things I’d recommend you start using is Hola Shine. Hola Shine is a sort of mini app drawer that presents itself as a semi circle when you swipe outward from either the bottom left or bottom right corner of your screen.

Hola Shine is really cool because it gives you quick access to any apps that may have a new notification, recently used apps and also a quick settings menu called “Toolbox.” I love Hola Shine and I think it’s a great feature. You can also download an app called “Omni Swipe,” for free, that allows you to theme Hola Shine and gives it a little more customization.

Hola Boost is essentially a built-in, automated task manager that comes with Hola Launcher. When you activate Boost, it will close any unneeded applications and processes to free up RAM for you, giving a little more oomph to your device.

There are a couple of ways that you can activate Hola Boost. Typically, you’ll activate it using the “Hola Boost Floating Window.” The Boost Window is a tiny little half-circle that, by default, sits on the left side of your screen. If you click on it, you’ll see icons for Hola Search, Hola Boost Settings and the Hola Boost function itself. Pressing the Boost Function icon will activate Boost.

If you press and drag the “floating window”, you’ll see it turn into a jet engine. When you see this, remove your finger from the screen and Hola Boost will take over and do its job.

Lastly, I’d like to mention the theme shop. The theme shop is exactly what it sounds like; a shop containing themes. What’s really cool about this theme shop is that the VAST majority of the themes available, are free. They cost you nothing and they are incredibly easy to apply. I think this will be the biggest appeal for new users looking to try out Hola Launcher.

Nothing Is Free

It is said that “Nothing in life is free.” Hola Launcher is no exception to this rule. I despise (read as: loathe) ads and in-app purchases. I also understand, however, that in the current state of this industry, this is about the only way a developer can make any revenue from their application.

To the point: Hola Launcher has ads. When you first start using it, you will get a few pop-ups suggesting an add-on application (like Omni Swipe) to improve your experience. It’s not a big deal to click no on these, should you choose to, and after that they shouldn’t bother you any longer. I also ran across ads on Hola Launcher’s lock screen. These particular ads were the only ones I considered intrusive.Screenshot_2016-02-22-21-46-53

Other than the app suggestions and lock screen ads, the ads contained in Hola Launcher, in my opinion, were not that bothersome. The majority of those I ran across were tucked away into settings menus or in the theme shop.

To summarize, if you’re going to include ads in your application, take a page from Hola Launcher’s book.

A few minor things I did not like:

  • Most applications on desktop can only be hidden instead of removed
  • It takes too many steps to get to my gallery wallpapers
  • There was no option for allowing me to place icons and widgets in the inbetween spaces of the desktop grid (a feature found in Nova Launcher)
  • I hate the default search bar. It shows weird, trending searches and is too reminiscent of Go Launcher.
  • I ran across a bug that caused my phone’s default weather/clock widget to appear jumbled on my home screen until I resized it. I think this has something to with the widget’s size and an incompatilbity with the grid size I was using for my desktop.
  • I could not get screen rearrangement to work. Following the instructions in Help and Feedback would not work for me except in one theme. After contacting the developer, I was informed that this features only works in 3D themes. I have asked Hola Team to update their documentation to reflect this.

Sans the bugs, most of my issues with Hola Launcher were nitpicky and revolved around personal taste. More than likely you will not have the same issues with Hola Launcher that I did.

Conclusion

Hola Launcher is a great choice if you’re looking for something a little more customizable than the default launcher on your Android device. With free themes, free wallpapers and a great deal of customization options, you really can’t go wrong with Hola Launcher. Give it a try and see what you think.

Hola Launcher – Google Play Store