Open Launcher: Google TV gets a dedicated alternative launcher app


Google (s GOOG) TV users just got more options to tweak the look and feel of the platform: A new, free app dubbed Open Launcher, once downloaded and installed, replaces the stock Google TV home screen experience with a more tweakable alternative. Right now, it focuses heavily on improving the actual launch bar, but Open Launcher developer Leon Nicholls told me that support for home screen widgets and other enhancements is planned for future releases.

At the center of the Open Launcher app is a customizable app launch bar. Users can add their favorite apps, and even add shortcuts to web apps — something that’s not possible with the regular Google TV launch bar. These favorites can be organized over multiple rows, which users can navigate with the D-Pad of their remote control. Also interesting: Open Launcher makes it possible to add icons for your favorite TV channels to the home screen. Check out a video demo below:

Nicholls told me via email that he wants to add wallpapers and widgets and other features in future releases. He also wants to add more functionality to the customizable launch bar:

“The row design of the launcher not only allows users to create and group their favorite apps, but there is the potential of adding new kinds of rows in the future like maybe a YouTube watch later row or even a Netflix instant queue row. The main goal is to give users easy access to the most frequently used content.”

Launcher apps have long been a key feature for Android handset users unhappy with the default look and feel of their handsets, which in many cases have been customized by manufacturers like HTC and Samsung. But this marks the first time that a dedicated launcher app is available for Google TV devices, and it goes to demonstrate that with their shared DNA, many things popular on Android may eventually come to Google TV as well.

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