Launchers basically allow you to change the way Android feels on the phone without needing to root or go through complex settings. Today we take a closer look at Microsoft Launcher which is focused on productivity and integration with their other products.
Get started with Microsoft Launcher
Immediately after installing Microsoft Launcher, the wallpaper menu welcomes us. You can either keep it default or use Bing wallpapers. Select the latter and get new wallpapers delivered daily to your phone.
Next is signing in through a Microsoft account, which is optional but would be good for syncing each service. Connect and sync calendars, sticky notes, and more, across all your Microsoft-based devices, primarily focusing on Windows.
What stands out
Let’s shed some light on some of the Microsoft launcher features that stand out.
Swipe down and the search bar appears with the on-screen keyboard. You will find this feature on Xiaomi’s MIUI and some iterations of Oppo’s ColorOS. It allows you to use the smartphone with one hand.
This comes in handy when phone screens keep getting bigger and harder to use with one hand. Search is faster than the Google search widget on our tested phones.
Search shows results from web search, apps, settings, sticky notes, contacts, calendar, launcher, and system settings. Toggle the filters to view results from specific categories. Like Google Lens, you can search for items through the Bing-powered photo search button.
Tap on web results and it will search in the preferred browser via the selected search engine. It is fixed at Bing by default but can be overridden by one of dozens of options and includes GoogleBaidu, DuckDuckGoetc
- Productivity Panel
Microsoft offers a custom feed when you swipe right from the left side of the screen. He houses a look with customizable panels and a personalized newsfeed. The Preview stream contains sticky notes, calendars, to-do lists, documents from OneDrive, and most-used apps.
Sticky Notes have seamless sync across all Microsoft devices. Write down something important on your Windows PC, then exit later, access it by swiping right on the phone’s home screen.
You can switch between calendars from Google, Outlook, Microsoft 365 and the default phone variant. Make sure you select the correct email account to add an event, reminder, or task to the calendar.
The screen time app in the panel stands out. It takes data directly from Digital well-being and briefly shows all the statistics on the panel. Tap to find more information, such as average time between screen unlock, daily usage pattern and other stats. Screen Time has a widget that you can anywhere on the home screen.
- Pin searches
Do you frequent search engines to look for particular things? This could be the upcoming dates of an event, the status of a flight booked last month, or anything found only through an internet search.
Pin these frequent search terms in the launch box and tap on it to search in the preferred browser. Tap the up arrow to enable search engine suggestions and select one to open in the browser.
- One-click wallpaper change
Looking at the same wallpaper every day becomes monotonous and boring. We modify them through the settings or through a third-party application. Do better by just pressing launcher widget button and change it instantly.
All wallpapers come from Bing’s endless photo library, and you can choose from all over a dozen, updated daily. It changes home screen and lock screen simultaneously.
What could be better
Everything looks good but there is always room for improvement. Here’s how the Microsoft Launcher can get even better.
- Pinned apps
The frequently used app is a nice touch but sometimes feels lacking. There are a few applications, such as authenticator and password managers, although essential but used occasionally. Like searches, the launcher can use pinned apps because the home screen gets cluttered over time.
- Dark mode can be improved
We tried the launcher on three phones, a budget, a mid-range, and a flagship. Two of them had text visibility issues in dark mode, which could be fixed by adjusting. Dark mode users are on the rise, and Microsoft should fix this minor issue as a priority.