Android personalization apps are more popular than ever, according to a recent report.
While iOS users can only change the most superficial elements of their home screens (unless their device is jailbroken), launcher apps allow Android users to customize the look and feel of their home screen.
Android launcher app use more than doubled between the last quarter of 2013 and the first quarter of 2014, according to the report from the mobile analytics firm Flurry that looked at data from 4,500 personalization apps in the Google Play Store.
The company points out Android launchers still only have about 30 million monthly users in the US, a relatively small percentage of total Android users, but notes the significance of this growth in their post.
This data set is telling us something big. It is telling us that consumers are eagerly waiting for an innovative service that help them discover apps, content, and services around them in a personalized way. While the numbers are still small, the fast adoption of these apps can’t be ignored. The battle for the mobile homescreen has begun.
The numbers indicate Android launcher use first began increasing during the second quarter of 2013. It isn’t clear which app(s) may be responsible for the current spike, but the initial uptick coincides with the launch of Facebook Home, which was released last April.
Despite the initial hype surrounding Facebook Home, that app was largely considered a dud. Even so, it appears the company has no plans to abandon the app just yet.
“We’re still very bullish on Home,” Facebook’s head of mobile engineering Jocelyn Goldfein told VentureBeat in February. “We’re not done with Home. I think it takes time, when you’re building something genuinely new and disruptive … it takes time to get it right.”
Facebook is not the only major player to release an Android launcher within the last year.
Google released its long-awaited Google Now launcher, which puts Google Now’s hands-free voice search at the heart of your home screen, earlier in February. That launcher is currently only available on Nexus and Google Play edition devices running the latest version of Android, though there is a workaround for other Android users.
Mozilla unveiled its Firefox launcher for Android last month, which aims to predict which apps users will want to launch based on contextual clues such as browsing history and the time of day.
And Yahoo acquired Aviate, a launcher that also emphasizes app prediction, back in January for $80 million.
What all of this means for Android remains to be seem but the sudden surge in popularity means we’ll likely be seeing even more personalization apps in the near future.