A little more than two years ago, the Microsoft Garage team introduced one of their experiments/test apps for Android called Arrow Launcher.
At that time it was their goal to replace the more complex launchers on Android to simplify the Android launcher experience.
Since then the Garage team behind Arrow Launcher has steadily been updating the app and through its 2.0 and 3.0 it has become a solid option and my default launcher on the Galaxy S8.
Today it was announced by Joe Belfiore, Corporate VP for Windows and Devices at Microsoft, that the launcher has now reached its 4.0 release and along with that milestone it is being rebranded to Microsoft Launcher with a collection of new features and enhancements.
The rebranding makes a lot of sense on Android because it puts the Microsoft name front and center for the launcher alongside of a new logo for the app.
According to Belfiore, the new Microsoft Launcher uses Fluent Design principles and allows a lot of customizations:
"Android phones have a feature that iPhones don’t – they allow customization of the “launcher” that’s displayed when you push the phone’s home button. How nice! Today, we are also launching a preview release of our new Microsoft Launcher for Android. We think it’s the most beautiful (based on Fluent design), customizable, powerful launcher available. With Microsoft Launcher, your recent photos, documents and more can all Continue on PC as well."
That last line seems to indicate a connection between this app and the Windows Timeline style features that were announced at Build 2017. I have already seen these connections since installing the new launcher earlier today.
The customizable Feed that you can set up with Microsoft Launcher is great however, one disappointment is that the To Do list is not tied into the Microsoft To Do app. It does retain an option to connect to Wunderslist which is what the new To Do app replaced - very strange - but hopefully it will be updated in a future version.
The new launcher also includes themes as part of the customization options including light, dark, and transparent. Themes seem to be an almost mandatory element of apps these days.
I am glad to see the launcher sticking around because when it comes to these Microsoft Garage products there is always the risk of a project shutting down.
Looks like Microsoft Launcher will be around for a while longer.
Check out the gallery for an extensive screenshot tour of the app.