Launchers are an increasing part of Android, but it’s still a hit-and-miss proposition. Some are just pretty faces, while others a bit heavy on the tech. Finding a balance can be difficult, but Inspire Launcher strikes a compromise we are growing fond of.

The launcher has some interesting little tweaks, but does a good job of staying out of the way, too. It does one thing we like, in keeping with the contextual aspect of search. The launcher itself can be considered a clone of the Google Now Launcher, and might be a decent workaround for those who can’t yet get the new KitKat-ey launcher. The ‘Genius Bar’ and recent apps appear when you swipe all the way to the left from the home screen. There are also quick settings there, like a WiFi toggle or sync refresh.

You can also rename many apps with Inspire, which we’re honestly just having fun with. Renaming apps has a use case, as in renaming’CloudMagic’ to just ‘email’, or leaving the name field empty altogether. In those circumstances, we find Inspire’s customization touch to be nice.

Inspire AC 2

It’s not without it’s hitches, though. The Genius Bar has an”X” to the right, which makes you think it’s going to delete what’s written in the search field, but it doesn’t — it launched voice commands half the time. We’re not sure what that was about, but it launched straight into Google Search voice. It also wants to default to the secondary screen rather than the home screen for some reason, even though it mimics the Google Now launcher in not forcing us to have five screens. It would make sense in that regard, but we add additional screens as needed with Inspire, just like we do with Google Now Launcher.

The launcher itself is still really nice, even if it’s a bit rough around the edges. We prefer it to the stock Android launcher on our Nexus 4 test device, but it’s still not beating out the Google Now Launcher. What Inspire does via the Genius Bar that we like is it cobbles together the results from a Google search. Rather than have to navigate the bottom of the screen to find an app on your device as you would in Google Now, Inspire gives it to you upfront. If you can’t get the Google Now Launcher but really want it, we’d suggest giving Inspire a shot. It’s effective and subdued, but needs just a little bit of work.