Microsoft’s innovative Arrow Launcher replaces the stock Android home screen with a more useful interface that focuses on what’s important to you. In a new update this week, it’s gotten even better, with performance improvements, IM support, and Bing search integration.
Microsoft first released Arrow Launcher last October, providing a new take on the Android home screen experience, one that brings your most-frequent accessed apps and contacts to the forefront. From a broader perspective, this Microsoft Garage solution, combined with Microsoft apps and services, and one of Microsoft’s Android lock screen replacements, represented a peek at what a Microsoft Android phone might look like. Still does.
Of course, the people behind Arrow Launcher haven’t stood still. A 2.0 version of the app, released in July, provided integration with the commercial versions of Office 365 and improved performance. And a major 2.2 release from just a month ago, finally let users fully customize the default Apps screen, rather than rely on it to present only their most-used-apps.
This week, Arrow Launcher has been updated again, to version 2.3. And the focus this time around is clearly on performance. Here’s a list of what’s new.
Instant messenger support on the Recent page. Now, you can quickly find your instant messenger chats with friends without having to launch each IM app separately. Just navigate to the Recent page and enable this feature. (If you don’t see it called out, just select Menu—the three dots—and then IM preview.
New High Performance mode. A new performance mode will especially benefit low-end or older devices by turning off background animations and blur settings. This, Microsoft says, will make Arrow Launcher faster. You’ll see a new High Performance option in app settings, which is disabled by default.
Bing search. Arrow Launcher has always provided dynamic Bing wallpaper, bringing a favorite Windows phone feature to Android. But now Microsoft says it has added Bing search as well. I couldn’t initially find this, but as many have pointed out, you just swipe up from the bottom of the screen and voila! There it is.
Performance improvements. Microsoft has made Arrow Launcher fast across the board: Page swipes, app launches, memory usage, and more have all been improved.
Arrow Launcher is, as always, highly recommended. You can find Arrow Launcher—it’s free—in the Google Play Store.