The Nokia Z Launcher is an alternative Android interface made by the company we thought was now owned by Microsoft.
You may think of Nokia and Microsoft as true bedfellows nowadays, but there’s a significant part of the company that’s still Nokia to the core. The new technologies arm of Nokia was never directly tied to the mobile portion Microsoft laid down cash for and has been able to move more freely when it comes to mobile-related projects.
It’s new creation, Nokia Z Launcher is currently in the trial stages of development and as a result isn’t yet available on the Google Play store. Don’t despair though, you can get your hands on it right now and try it for yourself, even if it is still technically a work in progress.
Z Launcher replaces your default Android interface with one centred around giving you the information you want, when you want. In essence it’s just two screens, a homescreen and an apps drawer, with the hope that you will seldom have to dip into the latter.
By default you’ll see a clock and the next upcoming entry in your calendar at the top, followed by a shortlist of the six latest applications, contacts or websites you’ve accessed. The idea is that rather than searching through a list of applications, you just write the first letter or two of whatever it is that you’re after on the screen with your finger.
As you drag your finger across the display you’ll see a white trace line, which will stay on-screen for a second whilst you cross ‘t’s or dot ‘i’s. It’ll then spit out a list of the most relevant results based on the letter or letters you spell out. The launcher recognises numbers, letters and you can swipe forwards to create a space (useful for searching contacts or websites) or swipe back for a backspace.
The second part of the experience comes from in the form of a time-sensitive UI. When you wake your phone, Z Launcher will offer you different apps based on your usage habits in the morning and evening. You may start the day with your dialler, email and Google Drive, but end it with Spotify, YouTube and Snapchat. As with other launchers we’ve seen that learn based on usage habits, the more you use Z Launcher, the more accurate and useful its predictions will be.
As we stated earlier, Z Launcher is still in its infancy, but it shows promise and offers a great alternative to your standard smartphone experience, with a focus on simplicity.
We’re fond of this little taster from the Finnish company, but now we’re curious to see what Nokia’s technologies team will cook up next.