Skip to main content

Microsoft invests even more time to Android, releases its own launcher

microsoft store grand opening
Keith Nelson Jr./Digital Trends
Microsoft officially released the Arrow Launcher from beta today, available on the Google Play store for free. It is a significant investment in the Android ecosystem, and points to a potential Windows-Android crossover in the future.

Arrow Launcher has been in beta for four months. Microsoft has been polishing the launcher, making sure all of the sections work as intended. The Launcher comes with four sections: contacts, frequent apps, quick notes, and recent. The user can access the sections through a swipe to the left or right.

Image used with permission by copyright holder

Instead of everything remaining static, Arrow Launcher constantly updates the sections. Apps are reshuffled depending on when you used them last and contacts are stacked by importance. The recent section shows apps opened recently, photos taken, apps downloaded, and other notifications. Quick notes lets you take notes and set reminders, removing the need for a dedicated app.

It is not the type of launcher for users that enjoy sorting their apps into folders or having a contact list sorted alphabetically.

Arrow Launcher is not the first app to arrive on the Google Play store from Microsoft, in fact the company has launched over 70 apps on Google’s store. Office, OneDrive, Outlook, SmartGlass, and Groove are all available, alongside the Next Lock Screen, also built exclusively for Android.

Compare that to Google’s other mobile rival Apple, the difference is night and day. Apple has launched one app on Android, and that was built by another studio to help new customers switch from Android to iOS. Apple Music — an app that has been available on iOS for over a month — might launch on Android by the end of the year, though Apple doesn’t seem to be in any rush.

Microsoft is already working with Samsung to bring Office to Android, but building its own smartphone for Android might not be far off. Nokia launched a range of low-end Android phones shortly after the Microsoft acquisition, but the range failed to meet expectations.

Editors' Recommendations

David Curry
Former Digital Trends Contributor
David has been writing about technology for several years, following the latest trends and covering the largest events. He is…
How to use Nova Launcher to customize your Android phone
nova launcher

Tired of staring at the same old home screen? If you've got a smartphone running Google's Android operating system, good news: You don't have to put up with the monotony any longer. Android supports what are known as third-party launchers, custom apps that supercharge your home screen with new features, themes, and optimizations. There's a pretty large list of launchers to choose from, but few come close to the level of polish and customization of Nova Launcher, a free (and optionally paid) Android launcher for all devices running Android 4.0 and newer.

Nova Launcher replaces your home screen and app drawer, the scrolling list of app icons normally accessible by swiping up on your phone's home screen. But on the default settings, you won't notice much in the way of change -- and that's because Nova Launcher sticks to a fairly vanilla take on Android's home screen. But there's a lot Nova Launcher can do that's not immediately obvious. Don't like the shape or style of app icons? It's easy to swap them out. Bored of the transition animations between home screens and apps? Just pick different ones.

Read more
Microsoft is designing its own ARM-based processor for Surface and cloud servers
The Microsoft Surface Pro 6

Updated on Monday, December 12 to include Intel's statement.

Microsoft is working on designing its own custom processor for its products, according to a report from Bloomberg news. Details are scarce, but the report notes that the new processor Microsoft is working on is "in-house" and will use ARM-based designs. It could not only be used to power data centers, but also the Surface line of computers.

Read more
The best launcher for Android and 9 alternatives
best launcher for Android

One of Android's main strengths has always been customization. Unlike an iPhone, you can tinker and tweak until you realize the home screen of your dreams. The easiest and most straightforward way to overhaul the aesthetic of your phone's interface is to install a launcher.

With a launcher, you can change the color scheme, icons, backgrounds, and lots of other details to define your ideal home screen, app drawer, and widget combo. But just what is the best launcher for Android? Read on to find our top pick and nine alternatives worth trying out.

Read more