Contextual launchers or launchers that change as per location and time rather than on any tinkering by you, seem to be the rage these days. We saw Nokia using the concept in its very bare-bones Z launcher, which focused more on speed and simplicity, while sacrificing customization options. Yahoo! has however, chosen to blend these three together in its Aviate Launcher, which it had acquired early this year, and which has also got a significant update a few days ago. Most importantly, it is no longer an “invite-only” beta but can be downloaded and used by anyone with an Android device (the exact specs are not available on the site as yet but we reckon it will run on most devices running Jelly Bean and KitKat).
The stress on a minimalistic design is clear the moment you launch Aviate. The app basically has three homescreens and starts you off on the most basic one of them all – a wallpaper with the time above it as well as indicators to the other screens (an app drawer icon on the right, a weather sign on the right), and five app shortcuts at the bottom. These are your favourites and can be changed. And before you ask, yes, you can park widgets on that wallpaper and even change it. The real action, however, comes on the homescreen to the left (basically when you swipe right from the landing screen), because this is where the app’s context-based magic starts working. The launcher basically tries to detect what you are doing and then makes suggestions accordingly.
But there is more to Aviate than just the ability to suggest apps and information based on your activity and work. A swipe to the left from the landing screen will show you your apps, but rearranged and classified as per Aviate. The app groups different apps under what it calls collections, and while we could not see any way to add a new collection to the titles that already exist, there were more than enough options to accommodate all the apps that one has. And once again, you have the option to shuffle apps between collections, so if you would rather place Flipboard in Social rather than in News, well, all you have to do is drag the app from one collection to the other. And finally, for those who want to see all their apps in one place, a simple swipe to the left from the collections screen will take you to a list of all the apps on the device, arranged in alphabetical order. So basically, you have the apps in alphabetical order and in classified mode right next to each other. A good touch, we think, although it would have been kind of extra-cool if we had the option of seeing our apps in one of the two modes rather than both.
All said and done, Yahoo Aviate might not appeal to those who believe heavily in customization and want stacks of homescreens, but the launcher manages to blend some of the simplicity we had seen in Nokia’s Z Launcher with more depth and customization options, all wrapped up in a clean, good-looking interface. If you have an Android and just want a launcher that works well without too much complexity and fuss, Aviate is an option you simply must try out.
Available from: Google Play