One of the cool things about Android is that you can completely change the way your phone looks and works by simply installing a launcher. Not happy with how your phone handles the app drawer or the dock? There’s no shortage of truly unique options. But while most of these launchers focus on how the phone looks, there are some which try and change how you use it, with the intelligent use of AI.
We recently tried out a number of the most popular of these “smart” launchers, and three really stood out – EverythingMe, Microsoft’s Arrow, and Yahoo’s Aviate. All three are free, and transform your homescreen in a way that promises to make using your phone more efficient. After spending a week with each, did any one of them actually live up to its claims, and become our default launcher? Read on to find out.
Aviate launched to a lot of fanfare, and it’s both smart and good looking. It automatically breaks your apps into screens for apps by category, contacts, and a smart stream that shows your agenda. It’s very neatly laid out, and the smart stream shows things like nearby places of interest, upcoming events, and so on.
That’s a little bit like the Google Now Launcher, but the app categorisation and presentation is much more readable, and you can easily find whatever it is that you’re looking for. Swipe up to show your contacts, and see your most frequent contacts all in one place.
The stream changes through the day, showing weather, traffic, and calendar information, photos and tips for places of interest when you’re on the move, and more.
On the downside, there’s not too much manual control over how the home screens are organised, and what’s more, things like the news feed are powered by Yahoo News, which may not appeal to all people. Although there’s a lot to like about Aviate, you may end up feeling like you don’t have enough control over your phone. It’s not for everyone, but all in all, we liked Aviate, though it takes some getting used to, and the first day or so can be a little confusing.
Download Aviate for Android
The second launcher we tried was Microsoft’s Arrow, which actually has a lot in common with Aviate. Arrow is a good looking launcher with a search function that lets you easily find anything on your phone, that’s a bit like Spotlight in iOS. It shows wallpapers powered by Bing, and lets you easily customise how your home screen looks.
Frequent apps are grouped together for easy access, and there’s a page for recent apps as well; this makes it easy to find the apps that you want without having to sort your home screens, or search through the app drawer. The utility page also lets you track your documents, keep reminders, and more.