There’s some part of Nokia that remained behind and never crossed over to tile world (I can’t start explaining things now. It’s complicated) has been musing over things. Like Android. And guess what? They have a launcher. An Android launcher. Don’t be too excited though since the application is still in pre-beta stage and volunteer testers were allowed to download the app and sideload it from the launcher’s site on a few specific device models i.e. the Samsung Galaxy S III, S4, S5 and the Google Nexus 5.
Unfortunately for me (and probably you too), there’s no way to sample this launcher. My device was not in the list of officially supported devices but my peers with similar devices managed to successfully sideload the app and take the launcher on a test drive. The app is apparently against* root users so for folks who’ve rooted their devices like yours truly that only meant I can hate from the outside (sucks, I know).
The launcher is called Z Launcher and it is beautiful, minimal and designed to just make sure you go straight to business i.e apps. Accessing applications from the app’s homescreen is pretty straight forward and you don’t have to fumble looking for an app drawer. Like Yahoo’s Aviate, Z Launcher is also contextual aware. It will change whatever it presents to you depending on the time of day and what you’re doing at that time. The app listens for you usage patterns so that it can learn from you and help you by listing the relevant apps, contacts and the like. An interesting feature of the launcher is called Scribble. Scribble makes use of gestures to remove the need for you to go and get lost in the sea of many apps you have installed looking for just one app. You simply draw the first letter of the name of the app you’re looking for and it will do the rest.
Unfortunately the app lacks support for one of the most iconic features of Android: widgets. Probably this will be added with time.
You can check out the app’s site (go to go.zlauncher.com from your device’s stock browser and proceed as instructed) or simply Google up the apk and sideload and see how things go for you. Oh, you need to be on Android 4.1 or a newer version of Android. The pre-beta is closed for now after being open for a day and a few hours so you’ll simply be forcing your way in which is still not a bad thing for anyone after a good thing. Don’t bother if you have a tablet, it won’t work!
*[Note: I reached out to the team behind the app a few hours ago and they promised that support for rooted devices is coming at some point.]
PS: A launcher is simply a home screen replacement in case you use one of those other mobile OSs and have never understood Android even one bit.