Downloaded Nokia’s Z Launcher this morning, after seeing an article about it.
At a most basic level, a launcher is what you see on your home screen when you power on your Android phone (and get through whatever security you may have in place).
The default state launcher will probably have a clock and a few app shortcuts on it.
Launcher apps replace this with something else.
For example, I have been using Aviate – which gathers your favourite apps on the first page, organises them by type a swipe to the right, and then shows them all on a further swipe right. Swipe left, and you will find a bunch of context categories – like Work or Home. Swipe down, and you see a context selection of apps – so, if you’re at Work, you’ll see apps you use there most often. If you’re at a cafe or pub, it may show that location and relevant apps. That sort of thing.
Nokia’s Z Launcher pares down to the way your home screen works to a single page. You have a clock top left, a single event top right. Tapping the clock goes to your preferred clock/alarm app, tap the event takes you to your calander. At the base of the screen, you have some key apps and a link to the app index. In the middle – well, here Z Launcher gets clever.
The middle portion of the screen shows six links – to things that you use regularly, by time of day / usage level. So, if you always read emails and check newsfeeds in the morning, those apps should appear on the screen at the time you normally use them. Commute to work? Maybe you will find the train time app, a map app and a link to your favourite sports coverage web page.
Z Launcher learns and evolves this selection over time, so it’ll be a little while before it gets in it’s stride. For the first few days, I dare say it will lean toward regularity of usage over time of usage. It’ll presumably take a week or two to start forming reliable data on usage patterns – one week wouldn’t be enough to get the feel for each day.
The other innovative feature, is Scribble. Draw a letter or number on screen, and it brings up apps, contacts, web suggestions, etc. that include that character. Draw a few characters and it will be more likely to include web search options, as you probably aren’t looking for things on your phone already if your first couple of letters didn’t bring up the right thing.
Scribble for Twitter or StumbleUpon once, and you’ll get it in the results by the time you reach the second or third letter. Next time, Z Launcher not only checks what you scribbled, but what you’ve scribbled before – so a T or S might well be enough to get what you want top of the suggested list of linked items.
We’ll see how this goes. I’m a sucker for new things and have tried other launchers. I’m interested in seeing whether this one works for me, or just aggravates me.
While the web site has noted a limit to downloads in this Beta phase and a limit of tested mobile devices, I got a download straight away and have it on a Moto G – which isn’t one of the listed devices.