We know everybody is looking forward to the big Hangouts 4.0 update; and despite a pretty active day for updates, there's no sign that the big green chat app is going to get a big new version today. While we're waiting, a smallish update to the Google Play Newsstand app reminds us that there's plenty of stuff to read in the news. The changes in this release are mostly centered around improving performance and accessibility, and fixing bugs. Read More
Nokia doesn't have much to do with Android, but it does make those super-cheap Android devices with the wonky interface and no Google services. That's not the extent of Nokia's Android ambitions, though. There's a new launcher from the company called Z Launcher, and you can try it right now. Make no mistake – it's basic, but kind of neat.
In our recent post about Google's plans to break its Search sauce out of the dedicated app and bring it to the rest of Android, I alluded to the fact that we'd have more to talk about later. Specifically left un-discussed were the implications of new navigation buttons for the Android home screen. As readers will remember, our information leads us to believe that the navigation bar will be getting a shakeup, with the new layout including the typical back and multitask buttons, plus a "Google" button, which appears - for now - to be an actual Google logo. Read More
There are a number of big names when it comes to home screen replacements, and Apex is very near the top of the list. This app adds a ton of options to the AOSP launcher and it has just gotten an update to v2.3. It includes plenty of fixes, but also some new features.
The incomparable @evleaks has offered up another look at Samsung's alleged UI experimentation, this time showing what would appear to be predictive search or information cards, similar to those offered by Google Now. Split into two parts, the collection shows everything from home temperature automation to exercise tracking to flight info, package tracking, appointments, and plenty more.
What differentiates the cards from Google's own service (design aside) is apparent social integration beyond birthdays and commutes. Read More
The Play Store is brimming with alternative home screens, but Aviate was far and away one of the most impressive we saw last year. This beautifully designed launcher takes a completely different approach to organizing your apps and data. Apparently Yahoo was just as impressed as we were because the company just announced at CES that it has acquired Aviate.
In case you missed it, Aviate tracks your usage patterns and groups apps into categories that are presented to you based on the time of day and your location. Read More
Google finally unveiled KitKat last week, but you may have noticed something was missing. Yes, there was no news on the so-called Google Experience Launcher. Earlier leaks led us to suspect that Google's homescreen experience was coming to more Android devices, but the big day came and went with no mention. Recent revelations about how the Android 4.4 homescreen works breathe new life into the possibility of a more Googley experience for all. Read More
The Fallout series has had a unique retro-futuristic aesthetic for nearly its entire run: it's a strange mix of post-apocalyptic settings sprinkled with themes of 50s and 60s Americana. Android customization enthusiast Turner Davis has applied this unique aesthetic to a massively-customized homescreen based on the game's PipBoy gadget, now on display at MyColorScreen. Best of all, he's detailed the steps needed to recreate this masterpiece.
For the uninitiated, the PipBoy is a wrist-mounted computer, sort of like a mix between an Apple II and Turanga Leela's ever-present watch thingy. Read More
Action Launcher is one of the more interesting home screen replacements out there, and it's getting better with a big update to version 1.9 today. There are a few new features, but the app has also gotten a plethora of bug fixes and optimizations that should make it faster and more stable.
Aviate Launcher, if you haven't heard of it, is a new home screen replacement that looks to offer you information right when you need it and which is, at the time of writing, in the middle of an invite-only alpha period.
After receiving my invitation recently, I was anxious to take the launcher for a spin. I have no doubt it will improve as it progresses toward a broad launch, and there are a few drawbacks, but it is already one of the best alpha products I've ever used. Read More