So you’ve rooted your Barnes & Noble NOOK Tablet and installed the Android Market so you can download some extra apps. But those apps don’t show up in the Barnes & Noble app library, so you have to install a new app launcher… and then you have to use the search option to look up the app launcher every time you want to get to it, right?
Not necessarily. It turns out there’s a couple of ways to use a third party app launcher such as GO Launcher Ex as your default app launcher on the NOOK Tablet.
The easiest is to simply shut down your NOOK Tablet and then press the power button to start it up again. When you unlock the screen, a menu will pop up asking if you want to use Home or GO Launcher EX. There’s also a little box that you can check to set whichever option you choose as your default.
If you check that box and then hit GO Launcher (or any other launcher app), then every time you reboot your NOOK Tablet it will load that launcher instead of the original Home app.
You can also always bring up the B&N NOOK home screen by hitting the N button on the tablet and then selecting the Home option.
Unfortunately the NOOK Tablet only has that N button. There’s no Home button. That means getting back to the GO Launcher home screen can be much trickier. But it turns out there’s an easy solution to that problem.
Update: Actually, there are two solutions. Xda-developers forum member gojimi has created an app called HomeCatcher which turns the NOOK Tablet N button into a Home button. It’s still in the testing phases, so install with caution.
You can find a free app called Button Savior in the Android Market. It’s designed to let you bring up on-screen home, back, menu, search, and other buttons. The idea is that you won’t have to keep mashing the buttons on your smartphone if you use Button Savior — but the app works quite nicely on tablets such as the NOOK Tablet which don’t have any physical buttons.
Button Savior requires root access, but as long as you have SuperUser installed and running properly, you should be able to use the app.
It adds a semi-transparent arrow to the right side of your screen. Tap the arrow and buttons will pop up allowing you to access home, back, or menu functions from any screen. This even works if you’re using the default B&N apps. In other words, you can get to your GO Launcher EX home screen from anywhere on your device using Button Savior.
The free version of the app lets you adjust the look and position of the buttons. If you want to change the button order or access other features you can buy a Pro key for $1.49.
Another tool that comes in handy for getting the most of the NOOK Tablet is Any Cut. It allows you to create a shortcut to pretty much any application or setting on your Android device.
That might not sound very useful at first… but when you go to the Settings menu on the NOOK Tablet you don’t actually get to see all the settings. For instance you can’t access the option that lets you enable or disable USB debugging, or the tool that lets you manage your apps by force closing or uninstalling selected apps.
All you have to do to create a home screen shortcut to any of those functions is fire up AnyCut, create a new shortcut, choose “Activities,” and scroll down until you find the activity you’re looking for. In the examples mentioned above, you’d want the Development and Manage Applications activities.