Homepack Buzz is the Buzz store. You can get all your themes from here
Homepack Buzz is the Buzz store. You can get all your themes from here

What is a launcher I hear you say? A launcher is the very look and feel of your Android. It determines how you change your screens, the look of your application drawer and how your widgets are placed on the home screen. One of the first things I said when I got both my phones was “Eww”. I didn’t like the way the phone felt to use. Huawei don’t re-invent the wheel too often so what I got was almost stock Android. No disrespect to Google but the interfaces were not good. On the Deuce there was no infinite scrolling and I had the choice of 5 screens, or nothing. Normally I only use three so those extra two screens didn’t cut it. The Honor+ was better but it was pretty bland for my tastes. I’ve had many different launchers over the two years and I suspect that I won’t settle for the one I have either, but at the moment I’m using Buzz.

What does the App claim it can do?

Pressing the Settings button brings up the settings menu on top of your screen
Pressing the Settings button brings up the settings menu on top of your screen

The Buzz Team claim “Buzz Launcher is the new concept launcher that enables you to apply shared Homescreens to your own smartphone.” . The features on the play store site say that you can apply home screens that you can download and make them your own. They claim that there’s over 200,000 home screens that you can download. Apparently, if you make one yourself you can upload it and share it with others. Some of the other claims is that you can have different grid sizes for every screen. This means that on your main home, you can have as grid size as small as 4×4 and the screen to the right you can have a 12×12. As a result your icons on one screen can be small and plentiful while on other screens they can be large and easily accessible. What’s more is that they say that you can edit your icons.

When you look at the blurb on the play store you don’t really get a good picture of what it all means. In addition There’s a lot it doesn’t say.

Does the App REALLY do what it claims to do?

 

I can honestly say that I haven’t before used a launcher quite like Buzz, and I mean that as a compliment. Buzz has all the standard features that you expect from a modern launcher. Such features include the ability to add multiple screens, infinite scrolling, pinch zoom to select screen and different swipe animations. Unlike other launchers you can enable gestures that can hide your Status bar and another to hide your Dock Bar so that you can maximize the on screen space for your widgets, shortcuts and other assorted icons. The application drawer is not the same as the stock launcher, it scrolls left to right by default, it doesn’t show your widgets like the typical Android 4+ launcher does and it doesn’t automatically sort your icons (by default).

Control things like gestures,  unread badges and even backup your settings
Control things like gestures, unread badges and even backup your settings

True to the blurb you can download a plethora of home screens. These are screens that other people have designed for anyone to download and use. Some require a payment, but a lot don’t. There’s so many to choose from and for the most part they are all good looking, functional screens. I’m sure there’s one out there that suits what you need. When looking at a Buzz home screen I downloaded one that I liked the look of and shortly after customized the heck out of it… because I could. What’s also interesting is you can mix and match home screens. If you like a bit of one and a bit of another one, no problem, Buzz lets you download the screens and add them to your current set. I have never, ever seen this before in other launchers.

Most of the home screens that you download require that you install one or more of the widget apps that the author used in the screens creation. During my home screen downloading spree I had to install apps Zooper and UCCW. These are both widget programs that you can either download pre-set widgets or you can make your own. Using either of them you can customize what you see on the widget whether it’s font, or text or even some system information. I’ll more than likely cover these apps at a later date.

Buzz Screen Settings
You can set the wallpaper, effects, screen sizes, margins and much more in the Deco/Wallpapers Setting

On top of all this you can most certainly change the number columns and rows on your screens. Do you want to stick two of the 4×2 widgets side by side, no problem all you need to do is to set your grid size to 8 x whatever and you can do just that. If you want one screen to be a 12×12 and the next to be 6×6 that’s not a problem, go into the Deco/Wallpaper setting and change it for the current screen. If your widget is the wrong size for your liking or if you just want to stretch it out a bit you can re-size all widgets and icons and you can set the icon or widget to be stretched horizontally, vertically, both or keep it the same size but give it more room. Included in it’s edit function is the ability to hide the name.

Something they don’t tell you is that you can hide apps from the application drawer and add folders. You can move things into your folders and re-sort the applications. When you install new apps they are typically added to the the last screen on the applications making it really easy to find. Don’t worry though if you are alphabetically minded you can re-sort the applications and assimilate your new apps into your device

For some apps there’s not enough room on the play store to tell you all the features of that app, Kingsoft was like that, and so is Buzz Launcher. What you get in the blurb is really only scratches the surface and the team have actually done a decent job providing a top notch launcher.

What do I like most about the App?

The App Drawer - What's to say, it shows your visible apps and allows you to hide them
What’s to say, it shows your visible apps and allows you to hide them

I really like how configurable the launcher is, you can change almost everything about it. The ability to apply themes is really good and I like being able to hide the Dock. It’s not really needed if you have shortcuts to what you need. I like how you can hide the name of an app when you edit it. Let’s face it all you really need is the icon, I know what the Evernote icon looks like, I don’t need “Evernote” showing up underneath it too. I like how I can download (or upload) more themes even though I like the one I have right now and don’t feel like I need a change. I like that if I do feel like a change it’s only really a few clicks away. I like the ability to change the grid size from screen to screen. To pick out one thing I like most about this launcher is hard because it’s a holistic thing… perhaps that’s what I like most about it, that it’s seamless and complete.

What’s not to like about it?

At the moment there’s nothing I don’t like about it really.

What are the little niggles (What would make it perfect)?

When you click on the “Settings” button the settings appear but they are on a transparent menu so you see your desktop in the background. It makes it a little difficult to read sometimes.

The animations are just a tad laggy on my device but I wouldn’t really call that a fault of the program unless the team could optimize it a bit for speed.

Why did I decide to keep/remove it?

I keep it because at the moment, I like it. For all the reasons mentioned above, it’s complete, it’s smooth.

Would my wife use it?

This is a good question, I don’t think so. Most of the screens you download require you to add some widget or another. If it’s one of those widgets you can customize often you have to add them and set them up yourself. The one I downloaded looked really good in the screenshot but I had to manually set up the Zooper widgets myself, I couldn’t just get up and running without fiddling myself. That’s my experience but you never know, one day she might ask me to make her phone look different. At that time I’ll probably install Buzz and set it up for her.

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