After a couple years of beta testing, Niagara Launcher is now available for download from the Google Play Store. It’s designed to replace the default Android app drawer and home screen grid with a layout that’s easier to access with one hand.
You pick your favorite apps to pin on the home screen, and the rest are accessible under an alphabetized list on the right side of the screen in easy striking distance of your thumb. It’s quick and very responsive; you can either tap on the part of the alphabet you’re aiming for or swipe up and down to scroll your list of apps.
Niagara also allows you to take quick action from the home screen by swiping across any app to bring up a list of options, like setting a new timer in the clock app or starting a session with Strava. Favorited apps will also show a preview of notification content on the home screen, and a swipe will expand this to show the full text without opening the app.
These basic features are available with the free version, but customizing your home screen further with additional widgets and displaying your battery life percentage requires an upgrade to the paid pro version, which costs $6 per year.
Niagara features a clever design, and it would really come in handy on a big phone. I also would have appreciated it on my standing-room-only bus commutes in the Before Time, when I often clung to a rail with one hand for dear life while checking my email with the other. It’s pretty handy on a smaller phone, too, for a more informative look at your notifications without requiring you to open an app.
The free version does not contain ads, which is another plus. Yet while the launcher does offer the basics, it’s a little bit of a letdown that it doesn’t let you add something as simple as a weather widget without paying for the upgrade. Overall, though, Niagara offers a clean look and a unique solution for those of us with one-handed woes.