Launchers have been a rather hot topic for Android users lately. There has been two recent arrivals, though, they are both still in private beta at the moment. The launchers are Themer and Aviate. We took a took at Themer last week and more recently, an invite to Aviate has arrived. We have only spent about a day with Aviate so far, and while we have some issues, there does appear to be some potential.
Aviate brings the promise of simplicity and intelligence. The developers behind the launcher have said it will be able to automatically change throughout the day. Basically, Aviate is supposed to adapt to you and provide what you need, when you need it. Part of that comes in with the different spaces. Overall, the app has a clean look, is pretty simple to navigate around and perhaps key for us -- was easy to setup and get going with.
From the main screen a swipe to the right (to access the left menu) will bring up those different spaces. In our case we are seeing Home and Work as well as Going Somewhere and Settings. Again from the main screen, one swipe to the left will bring up your app collections. These collections allow you to group apps by type and the apps can be adjusted within each collection. You can also move the collections up or down to have them listed in your preferred order.
From the collections screen, another swipe to the left will bring up an alphabetical list of all your installed apps. Back on the main screen, you can also swipe down for more information. Aviate offers a light or dark theme and the main screen contains a favorites app drawer (with space for up to 10 apps). Sitting above the favorites is a single large box (to start). That box can be set as a widget or image from your gallery. You can also add extra widgets or images, though, any additional means they all just shrink down in size as that initial single box is as big as it gets.
All said and done, we found Aviate to be interesting. It seems like a launcher that has some potential, but for now there are some customizations that are missing. For example, there is a "nearby" section which is rather nice. This offers a list of business locations that you are near and a tap of that takes you a bit deeper. From here you can get tips, check-in, capture an image and post. The issue, the check-in is limited to Foursquare.
Most of the issues that we have are small. For example, it would be nice to rename an app collection. But for now it appears you can only add/remove the ones that are pre-named. Thankfully though, you can add/remove any apps from each collection. The other issue for us was more important, it was battery life. Without any real nice way to say this, Aviate seems to be dropping our battery rather quickly.
Anyway, while the Aviate launcher remains available on for those with an invite, it can be found and installed by way of the Google Play Store. And while we generally dislike installing apps we cannot use, an installation does allow you to not only request an invite, but also easily enter the code when it comes available.