Recent update of LeanbackLauncher Home app

Recently (actually not recently, I noticed this change maybe 1-2 month ago), leanback launcher app, Android TV’s default home launcher app, has updated. I noticed 2 changes for its behavior.

I also want to discuss about current situation for home launcher apps for Android TV.

Icon layout customization

Current leanback launcher has really few features we can customize its configuration. But updated app allows you to customize icon layout by long-pressing center button on the app launcher icon. 

It seems it is only allowed for “Apps” and “Games” rows which are default Android TV rows, and other rows (for example, “Inputs” row of SONY BRAVIA TV) layout cannot be customized.

Other home launcher app is not allowed to launch as “home” app

Have you ever think of changing home launcher app of your Android TV? There are still few, but some home launcher apps are published on Android TV platform as well.

For example,

  • Sideload Launcher – Android TV: It shows sideloaded app (More concretely, Android phone app installed to your Android TV device.) so that you can launch these app efficiently.
  • HALauncher – Android TV: It offers you more customization features than default leanback launcher for now. For example you can set background picture or you can customize app icon layout & row layout etc.

However, after recent update for Android TV, we cannot make these home launcher app as “home” app. More technically, third party app cannot get the intent of category.HOME.

                <action android:name="android.intent.action.MAIN" />
                Below 2 lines are for HOME launcher app. They get the intent of "HOME" button key press.
                <category android:name="android.intent.category.HOME" />
                <category android:name="android.intent.category.DEFAULT" />
                <category android:name="android.intent.category.LEANBACK_LAUNCHER" />
                <!--<category android:name="android.intent.category.LAUNCHER" />-->

This issue is also mentioned at HALauncher’s app description as

* Attention * Android TV of “All version” can not use this app as home app! When google’s apps are updated, they change system settings automatically and stop to use other than default home app. Even it’s older than Android 6.0…

HALauncher – Android TV

There is a discussion thread “Nexus Player, Android Marshmallow, Setting default home launcher issue“, I think many users prefer Android to be free to customize its behavior by your own. Android platform should be open for any developers and users, it is not a good news that Android TV apps development is “closed” for some category area.

Home launcher apps are really big market for smartphone (For example, GO Launcher is over 100M downloaded app!), but currently Home launcher apps are implicitly restricted by Google for Android TV platform… I’m hoping that this behavior will change in near future! 

If you have any opinion about this, feel free to comment on this post.

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