04
Jan
tilelaunchertiny

Whether you use Windows Phone or not, chances are at some point you're going to have to get used to the concept of tiles. Microsoft's putting them everywhere. On your Xbox, PC, tablet... They're unavoidable. If you like  the idea of tiles over icons, though, here's an app you might want to try out: Tile Launcher Beta. While it's not quite a clone of the MS-borne smartphone interface (for example, you can still have a custom background), it does place brightly colored squares on a continuous scrolling homescreen.

tilelauncher1 tilelauncher2 tilelauncher3

You know...it kinda grows on you. While I've never been a huge fan of the Windows Phone interface as is, the tiles here are pretty slick and, as in the left-hand screenshot above, with some custom icon tweaking they can be made to look gorgeous. Most default tiles won't be anything more than app icons on giant colored squares but even that can look better than stock to some.

There are a few unique features, as well. For starters, you can customize spacing between tiles. As mentioned before, you can change your wallpaper, and even choose a live one, if you'd like. Best of both worlds! Also, scrolling isn't paginated as it is on most launchers and, instead, opts for one continuous horizontal mobile desktop. If you've used any Metro-style interface, you'll probably feel right at home.

The app is free on the Play Store right now. It should be pointed out that the "beta" in the name isn't there for kicks. While adding tiles and launching apps worked flawlessly for me, some things did appear to be broken or incomplete, like adjusting tile transparency. Your mileage may vary.

Eric Ravenscraft
Eric is a snarky technophile with a taste for the unusual. When he's not obsessing about Android, you can usually find him obsessing about movies, psychology, or the perfect energy drink. Eric weaves his own special blend of snark, satire, and comedy into all his articles.

  • defred34

    This is an epic win. But imagine if we get a real WinP8 launcher on Android. I'll pay $10 just for dat homescreen!

    • http://profiles.google.com/papa528 Joe Pas
      • http://www.androidpolice.com/author/eric-ravenscraft/ Eric Ravenscraft

        I've used Launcher 7 and the main problem I had with it was that it sat in that uncanny valley where it looks plenty like Windows Phone, but not quite entirely. It just didn't feel right. My personal opinion, as someone who's not going to use either as his daily driver, is the app I talked about here is better simply by virtue of being its own thing and not a close-but-not-quite clone.

        • Steve Schneider

          I'm looking for a launcher replacement that looks like TouchWiz and has all the bloat a Samsung phone has... Any recommendations?

          • Tommy Thompson

            Try HTC sense, I hear they have plenty of bloat to go around.

          • john

            haaaaaaaaaaa. omgosh too funny

          • HotInEER

            I would say buy an iPhone, after all according to them, that's all a Samsung phone is.

        • http://codytoombs.wordpress.com/ Cody Toombs

          I tinkered with Launcher 7 ages ago. I didn't really give it a fair chance because it (and any of the other WP7 clones) didn't have any support for widgets. I know that the nature of a vertically scrolling launcher might put a damper on vertical scrolling widgets, but everything else seems fairly accessible. Half of the marketing for Windows Phone 7 was directed at Live Tiles. If the tiles are just flat icons with no animation or extended capabilities, it loses it's cool factor.

          • john

            nova launcher + prime is a win

          • http://geniousatplay.blogspot.com/ Bikram Agarwal

            Well, don't replace your launcher. Add widgets that look like Windows tiles. That way, you have a windows phone look on your android and freedom to place any number of other widgets you want.

            Check this out - https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=vic.uccw.tiles

            It has tiles in three colors and games pack and Google Apps pack too.

          • http://geniousatplay.blogspot.com/ Bikram Agarwal

            Well, don't replace your launcher. Add widgets that look like Windows tiles. That way, you have a windows phone look on your android and freedom to place any number of other widgets you want.

            Check this out - https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=vic.uccw.tiles

            It has tiles in three colors and games pack and Google Apps pack too.

          • http://codytoombs.wordpress.com/ Cody Toombs

            I wasn't actually interested in replacing my launcher, I was playing around with alternates to see what they were like. The point of my comment was intended to emphasize the fact that these launchers that duplicate the Windows Phone look and effect, they aren't implementing the feature that would be a fairly amazing collaboration between the style of Metro and the actual Android Widget system.

            Also worth saying, having a Windows Phone 7 device 12 feet from me (and a Nexus 4 only 12 inches from me), you're losing all of the enjoyable aspects of Metro UI if the only thing you're getting is tiled icons; pagination instead of the smooth flow through the tiles with a fling, the animations you get from the whole screen when things happen, the particular types of interactions with the tiles. Slapping a WP look-a-like onto an Android launcher works about as well as it did when people copied the iPhone interface, it feels and looks like those chinese knock-off phones and lacks the polished features that made it nice on the original product. It's not that the WP interface can't be reproduced (very easily in fact), but it has got to be far better than a set of themed widgets.

      • ArberBeq

        Launcher 7 sucks

      • John O’Connor
  • Luke

    I'm impressed it looks pretty cool so far, hopefully it performs fairly well + get's updated regularly. Personally I'm a big fan of the Metro UI just like I am of the Holo UI look. These apps are great especially for low end devices that can't get the Holo look/ICS updates

    • http://www.androidpolice.com/author/eric-ravenscraft/ Eric Ravenscraft

      You know, when you stop to think about it, Metro and Holo have a lot in common. They both go for that "authentically digital" look (I believe MSFT coined the term). Namely that, while iOS tries to go for a skeuomorphic aesthetic, where everything looks like it was based on a real-life thing, Windows Phone and Android do the exact opposite. They try to go for clean, bright colors, obviously unreal appearances, and a UI that knows it's a computer. And I think it works really well.

      • Luke

        I agree. For me it's not entirely about how it looks, although it helps, I mean I use a awful HTC Wildfire but having apps that come with Metro UI I.E Skydrive which I think looks awesome (yet the 'new' outlook app is exactly the same as the hotmail one - way outdated) and ICS or Holo styled apps are very pleasant on the eye but makes apps a lot easier to use in my opinion.
        Is there any way to change any settings with Tile Launcher? I find it runs pretty smoothly, had a few hiccups with widgets but on the whole it looks very good.

      • http://codytoombs.wordpress.com/ Cody Toombs

        So many self-important designers and critics have written huge, several page articles that try to explain this same thing...and you just nailed it in a short paragraph.

      • Ian Santopietro

        I do like that Holo has a UI though. Metro doesn't.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1745689461 Hal Motley

    This looks cool but I am still waiting for Springloaded, the iOS SpringBoard launcher for Android. XD

  • SuperAndroid

    Google, you have a lot to do...

    1. Make something good of that damn old multitask-thingy menu.
    You know... make it like a "navigation home from any screen", let the user add their favourite apps or most used ones aswell. So you can navigate to more places than just last used applications.

    2. Fix the back button.
    Should be easy; if an app would close itself when you hit it... it should convert into an "x". That would atleast make it somewhat easy to understand. But now... well, you never have any idea whatsoever!

    3. One extra "fixed" button on the homescreen
    The "home" button should be replaced with the "all app" button when you are on the homescreen. Would make it easier to get to all applications fast; just a double click on the button and it's done.

    4. Remove that damn "Google Now" from the menu
    I love the feature; but I really hate the position. Just add it somewhere else (I got an idea presented in number 5). Sometimes when I want to go to the home-screen and click the button, I drag upwards or something and Google Now starts instead. REMOVE IT NOW!

    5. Settings menu - drag from bottom?
    Make it possible to drag the settings menu from the bottom instead. It would be a lot easier and faster instead of that "double drag". The settings menu also need a lot of fixes, but that a whole other problem (not mentioned in this short list).

    6. Remove the "homescreens" and replace with one homescreen.
    Make it work like Windows Phone-style, but it stays in columns. So if you scroll (vertically) it will stay in a row - and not just everywhere. It would make homescreen styling a lot harder, but so much more functional (if you ask me).

    7. Design guide lines for widgets...
    If you want; you should be able to style your homescreen with widgets and make it look like Windows Phone (almost). It will take some time; but with some design guide lines and some small changes to current widgets it should be working.

    8. Resizeable icons?
    Perhaps making icons and widgets the same...? If I could make some icons bigger I would. It would be awesome. And that's it.

    9. Fix that lockscreen!
    The old one was good, the current one is BAD. Why? The old one I could unlock by touching inside the circle and drag outside. The current one I can unlock by dragging to the left and click on the widget, drag to the right to open the camera, click inside the circle and drag outside, double click on any widget and probably five zillions of other ways. Long story short; if you accidently hit the power-button - your phone will unlock. Unless you use another security, but that only takes time when you really want to unlock it.

    10. Horizontal support?
    Shouldn't be that hard to create a phone app with horizontal support... or a homescreen for that matter. Especially if they make it to one homescreen with vertical scroll instead of five homescreens.

    • enomele

      No to a lot of what you just said. Especially number 6.

      • SuperAndroid

        The only things I'm kinda unsure about and think could be wrong and probably not even possible (in a good way) is 7 and 8. But other than that; I believe most things would be awesome. Especially number 6. Since it would allow people to add as much content as they want to the homescreen (instead of being limited to five screens which might be to much or to less for different people).

        • http://twitter.com/Serotheo Simon Yu

          Cue Home Replacements/Alt. Launchers and their Gesture support..

    • Justin Terry

      2 Maybe. Everything else you can keep.
      As for #9, the new Lockscreen is way improved i can unlock without looking at it, whereas before you could unlock to Google on accident

  • Marcus Thomas
    • John O’Connor

      ditto, you want winmetortile8ui you go launcher8

  • Steve Green

    I can avoid tiles just fine.
    Android phone, Linux desktop, I have a PS3. To MS I say no thank you.

    • Paul

      And what if somebody held a gun to your head and gave you a choice of 2 different phones. A Windows Phone or an iPhone. Which would you consider the lesser of the evils?

      • Yu Liu

        i rather choose the bullet...

        • Colin Richardson

          Yep, I'm with Yu Liu.. Bullet!

    • Wam31

      Same here.
      The most repulsive thing about WinPhone (beside having to use IE) is the UI for me.
      Hard to switch from Android to that. Look SO UGLY to me...
      Why would anyone want that instead of widgets is beyond me...