Action Launcher review: The Swiss Army home screen

Android is constantly changing, and so is its home screen.

The home screen sets Android apart from other mobile platforms, and it's an excellent marker to judge Android's state and evolution. Folders have gotten more advanced (and far more fashionable) in the last two years. Live wallpapers are starting to experience a bit of a revival. Most importantly, launchers themselves have evolved and been refined, with gestures becoming a far more normalized and integral part of the experience. While many launchers have begun to add gestures to launch the app drawer and other specific actions, gestures have been at the core of the Action Launcher experience for years, and they help make it one of the most intuitive and customizable launchers on the platform.

Action Launcher's evolution

Action Launcher has been around for almost five years now, and in that time it has undergone a few significant evolutions. Almost three years ago, developer Chris Lacy completely re-imagined Action Launcher into Action Launcher 3, which made angry waves among Android users, as it required them to buy a fresh Plus version to unlock the paid features again. Then this summer, Action Launcher dropped the 3 to become Action Launcher again.

Action Launcher's features have evolved and been refined over the years to better imitate Google's vision of the home screen, while still offering up the customization and gesture-based UI that its users can quite quickly become addicted to. It's no secret that Action Launcher has a following that's almost as fervent as fellow market veteran Nova Launcher, including our own Modern Dad Phil Nickinson, and it's because Action Launcher is easy to get your home screen exactly the way you want and then keep it that way.

Hidden treasures

Action Launcher allows you to lay out your home screens with a desktop grid and padding to your liking, but the true magic comes in when we start getting crazy with gesture features. Enable the Quickdrawer for a vertical app list that you can swipe in from the left edge of the screen. Enable Quickpage to get an extra page of widgets and app shortcut space you can summon from the right.

Then we have Covers and Shutters. Covers and Shutters enable Action Launcher to hide unsightly folders and widgets in plain sight by hiding them under normal-looking app shortcuts. Covers make folders practically invisible, setting the first app in the folder as both the folder icon and the tap action for the folder, while swiping up on the new icon will open the folder. Shutters allow you to swipe up or down on an app shortcut on your home screen or Quickpage and open a folder-like window containing a widget from that app. These tools allow you to nest Shutters inside Covers and hide both elements inside a clean-looking home screen. Once you get used to them, it's pretty hard to go back to anything else.

One of the most prominent — and customizable — tentpoles of Action Launcher is its persistent search bar, called the Quickbar. Action Launcher goes beyond the boring one-function search bars most launchers use and allows you to add extra functionality, such as shortcuts to your favorite apps and the Quickdrawer. Action Launcher recently added the ability to colorize the icons in your Quickbar to be more vibrant and better match your themes. You can dock your Quickbar at the top of the screen, or at the bottom of the dock in the Pixel 2 style.

Tenacious delight

Once you get the launcher set up the way you want, Action Launcher has a few features to make theming an existing home screen layout a breeze. Quicktheme allows Action Launcher to pull colors for its various elements from the set wallpaper, and from some wallpaper apps like Muzei. This means that changing themes can be as easy as just changing a wallpaper, as the launcher colors will automatically adjust. The most you'll have to do is perhaps switch color types and change icon packs. The only downfall here is that Action Launcher sometimes misses the desired colors in a particularly vibrant wallpaper, or in most live wallpapers.

Action Launcher has adapted quite admirably over the years, quickly implementing Pixel folders last year and both the dock searchbar, notification previews and At A Glance widgets from this year's Pixel 2 home screen. Action Launcher has even made the Pixel setup the default for the launcher, allowing new users to get to a Google-esque look without having to set everything up from scratch.

Conclusion

There's still more ground to be broken by Action Launcher, but rest assured this launcher is one of the best on the market. So long as it thoughtfully adapts and evolves along the Android system as a whole, there's no doubt in my mind Action Launcher will be worthy of hosting your home screen. Which Action Launcher features keep you coming back? Are there any features you feel are still missing after almost five years of launcher loveliness?

Let us know in the comments below!

Many of these Logitech PC accessories are down to historic lows at Amazon

Grab some PC essentials at their lowest prices ever.

Is this deal for me?

If you've been looking for some new Logitech PC accessories, you are going to want to check out these awesome deals. A variety of keyboards, mice, speakers and more are all on sale at both Amazon and Best Buy. Many of these prices are historic lows for the items, and others are within a few dollars of the lows.

Keyboards

Mice

Headsets & Speakers

Racing Wheels

TL;DR

  • What makes this deal worth considering? - Some of these Logitech products are down to their lowest prices ever!
  • Things to know before you buy! - These deals are thanks to Black Friday, so there's no telling when they'll run out.

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T-Mobile outage? Here’s what you need to do!

Having trouble staying connected to the T-Mobile network? Here's what to do to determine if there's an outage in your area.

T-Mobile is one of the fastest growing mobile networks in America, but sometimes that that can lead to growing pains — outages and other network issues.

If you're experiencing issues connecting to the T-Mobile network, here's a step-by-step guide of how you can figure out what's causing the issue.

First things first, make sure it's not your phone

If you're having trouble with your T-Mobile device and are thinking of calling technical support, you should save yourself some time and be sure that it isn't a setting on your phone that's causing the connectivity issues.

T-Mobile has a support page for troubleshooting signal issues and it's as good a place to start. Here are the first things you should try:

  • Be sure to check your device settings to make sure Airplane mode is off and Data roaming is turned on. In network settings, the Network mode should be set to auto.
  • Tap the Mobile data icon in your notification shade twice to turn toggle your phone's network services.
  • Remove any cases or covers from the device.
  • Try turning off your device, wait five seconds, and then turn your device on again.
  • Ensure that your T-Mobile SIM card is properly installed on your phone.

It's easy to blame a wireless carrier when things go wrong (fun, too), but sometimes we do it to ourselves. It can be pretty easy to accidentally switch into Airplane mode without noticing it. Its embarrassing when it happens, but it's even more embarrassing to find out while on the phone with a customer service rep.

Check the T-mobile Coverage Map

T-Mobile has a pretty reliable nationwide network that's been steadily expanding over the past few years, but there are a still a few gaps in coverage and not all areas are serviced with full 4G data. If you're travelling through a part of the country you've never been to before and are experiencing slower data speeds you'll want to check T-Mobile's coverage map.

You can browse around the map and zoom in to see the specific coverage provided in your area, or search by address, city, or zip code.

Learn more

Check out T-Mobile's outage report

If you're well within T-Mobile's coverage and still experiencing issues, there might be an outage in your area. Outage.Report is a reliable site that tracks outages reported across the country for all major carriers.

At a glance you'll be able to see if there have been any outages reported in the last 20 minutes, a color-coded history of network problems reported over the last few months, along with a heat map showing areas which are currently experiencing issues. It's a handy site worth bookmarking if you're a T-Mobile customer. Also, If you're experiencing an outage make sure to click the "Not working for me" button and report it!

Learn more

Still need help?

So you've checked to make sure your phone's settings are set right, you've confirmed you're well within T-Mobile 4G coverage, and there's no reported outage in your area — and yett you're still struggling with network issues.

It's time to call T-Mobile technical support. They can be reached by dialling 611 from a T-Mobile phone, or toll free at 1-877-746-0909. Agents are available 24/7 and will help you further troubleshoot any issues with your service.

Eufy BodySense vs. Fitbit Aria 2: Which smart scale is best for you?

Which Smart Scale is the right fit for your active lifestyle?

I've covered a number of topics in this health column, from tracking your dietary habits to the best accessories to get the most out of your runs. This week, I'll be focusing on the devices we use to track our progress.

Smart scales might seem like a superfluous upgrade to a pretty basic piece of bathroom equipment, but they're great for getting a more accurate insight into your overall health rather than just knowing your total weight. Based on first impressions the Eufy BodySense and Fitbit Aria 2 both look nearly identical, but just like with people, it's what's on the inside that counts.

Why should you get a smart scale?

So maybe you're reading this while thinking about your reliable old bathroom scale and thinking that it does its designed job pretty well. Why upgrade?

Well, if you're only interested in occasionally checking your current weight, maybe you don't need to upgrade. But if you're trying to improve your health you should know that basing your fitness goals off of your total weight only gives you a fraction of your overall health.

Smart scales use technology called bioelectrical impedance to measure your body fat percentage, bone density, and much more.

Smart scales use technology called bioelectrical impedance to measure your body fat percentage, bone density, and much more. This is accomplished by sending the slightest electrical current up through your legs — muscle and water are a better conductor of electricity than fat or bone. You can see the different conductive areas on the scale where your feet need to touch to complete the connection. It's great to see a more accurate breakdown of your overall health, but the technology is not foolproof and despite the picture above, you'll need to weigh yourself barefoot to get all those added metrics tracked — but no one needs to see a close-up of my bare feet.

All your measurements are tracked automatically and presented as a graph so you can track your progress and see the impact that proper dieting and exercise is having. Maybe you're not losing weight, but your body fat percentage is going down while your muscle mass is quietly increasing. With a smart scale, you'll be able to note those important differences.

Both the Eufy and Fitbit scales offer support for multiple users and instantaneously send the info right to your phone, but it's the connection method between scale and phone that's different and ultimately might be the deciding factor in which one you go with.

Eufy BodySense Smart Scale

Eufy is a sister company of Anker, which is of course known for its outstanding portable batteries and affordable Bluetooth speakers. While Anker makes great accessories for your phone accessories, Eufy focuses on smart home products, from robot vacuums to the BodySense Smart Scale.

Using the BodySense Smart Scale is just as easy as using any other scale, only with the added benefit of getting a ton of cool stats sent to your phone. All you need is the EufyLife app open on your phone and a Bluetooth connection when you step onto the scale and the scale displays your weight while sending the more specific metrics to your phone, where they're tracked over time in graphs that really help to illustrate your progress. The BodySense scale can manage up to 20 unique users and you can also configure it to sync your data to Google Fit automatically after each measurement.

The EufyLife app is easy to use, although it's kind of annoying to have your phone on you and open to the app each time you want to get your full metrics. Fortunately, once the Bluetooth connection is established it pops up on your phone almost immediately and gives you a great breakdown of your stats at a glance, with graphs and more info available by tapping on each measurement.

Aesthetically I love the look of the Eufy smart scale, especially how the display is right under the glass and nearly invisible until it comes to life when you step on. The most important feature in a smart scale for me is the ability to use it quickly and efficiently as a normal scale for the times when you don't particularly care about all those or if a visitor wants to check their weight. But if cost is most important to you, the Eufy BodySense will leave you smiling at just $50.

See at Amazon

Fitbit Aria 2

You all know Fitbit, the company that brought fitness trackers into the mainstream. The Fitbit Aria 2 is the latest companion scale that's designed to seamlessly sync with the Fitbit dashboard like the rest of Fitbit's product line.

The display is the heart and sole of the Aria 2. It's big and bright — and nearly impossible to get a good picture of with decent lighting. It's also capable of a lot more than just displaying your weight, as you'll see fun little animations pop up there, along with a customized user icon just so you know that your Aria is tracking for the right person.

Another important difference is how the Aria 2 wirelessly syncs its data to your phone. Unlike the Eufy smart scale, the Aria 2 connects to your home's Wi-Fi network and will automatically sync to your connected Fitbit account so that your vitals are waiting for you on your Fitbit Dashboard whenever you decide to check in. The tradeoff here is that it seems to take the Aria 2 a bit longer to process the information — it takes about four seconds for the Eufy to lock in on my weight and nearly 10 seconds for the Aria 2 to stop fluctuation between measurements. It's certainly not a deal-breaker, but it is quite noticeable when you used them back-to-back.

If you already wear a Fitbit daily for tracking steps and workouts, getting the Aria 2 is really a no-brainer. Fitbit offers a really polished app experience which lets you set goals, plan meals, and track your workouts. Adding the Aria 2 only enhances the overall Fitbit experience.

The Aria 2 is currently available for pre-order on Amazon for $129 and available in both white and black styles. Having previously spent some time with the first Aria smart scale, I've certainly found the Aria 2 to offer a more refined experience along with being easier to set up and use. The Aria 2 is superior, but if you don't mind settling for the older model you can get the original Aria smart scale at a blowout price of just $87 which is still a pretty good deal.

See at Amazon

Which should you get?

The Fitbit Aria 2 is a great scale for any hardcore fitness folks who never go a day without wearing their Fitbit tracker. If you're already going to be checking in on the Fitbit app regularly, it just makes sense to go with a device that will seamlessly mesh with your app and other devices.

On the other hand, if you're just looking to upgrade your boring old bathroom scale to a cool new smart scale that works without much fuss, the Eufy BodyScale is a great option at a very reasonable price. It's a little clunky having to have the EufyLife app open on your phone, and it's easy to forget to do so and miss out on recording a day. But at less than half the price of the Aria 2, it's an easy compromise to make for those looking to get good value on a smart scale.

This limited edition PS4 Pro comes with Destiny 2 and is now on sale for $350

We didn't expect a lot of PS4 Pro deals this year, so this is a nice surprise!

Amazon is selling the PlayStation 4 Pro 1TB Limited Edition Console - Destiny 2 Bundle for only $349.99! This is a match of GameStop and Best Buy's price, but they have the standard Black console without Destiny 2! Amazon wins.

There are a ton of other great PlayStation sales going on right now, including unique prices on games, the PlayStation VR down to one of its best prices, and more.

Features include:

  • This Limited Edition bundle is the perfect package for existing and new Destiny fans.
  • Destiny 2 players on PS4 will have access to bonus content before its available anywhere else.
  • Bonus content includes a competitive multiplayer map, a three person co-op Strike, a new ship, specialized gear set and an exclusive exotic weapon.
  • HDR in Destiny 2 coming soon.

See at Amazon