What you need to know
- A new version of Microsoft Launcher is now in preview.
- It features a new UI and rewrite of several key areas.
- This is also the Launcher that the Surface Duo will be based on.
Microsoft has released a preview of the next version of its Microsoft Launcher for Android today, which features a rewrite of several key areas, along with a new user interface and features. This new version of the Microsoft Launcher comes in at version 6.0, and is its biggest update yet (via ALumia).
This version of the Microsoft Launcher appears to be what the home screen experience on the Surface Duo will be based on, which means this preview gives us an early look at some of the experiences the Surface Duo will have to offer out of box. It features new icons, widgets, a landscape mode, and a rewrite of the activities area, apps list, dock, and search UI. It also revamped dark and light modes, and Microsoft is touting better memory performance too.
Unlike previous beta versions of the Microsoft Launcher, this new preview is its own listing in the Google Play Store, meaning existing Launcher beta testers will need to download this new preview version manually to begin testing it. Microsoft does warn this this new preview version of the Launcher is buggy, with unfinished features and user interfaces.
I've been testdriving the new Microsoft Launcher for a little while now, and I think this might be the best version of the Microsoft Launcher yet. It gives us an exciting look into just some of the experiences we can expect to see on the Surface Duo, and works great on existing smartphones today. You can download the preview here.
This early access version of Microsoft Launcher allows you to test out features like landscape mode. It's also built of a new codebase, so it should use less memory and battery than other versions of Microsoft Launcher.