As the title suggests, this is not a review. I can’t stand websites that say they have a review of an App that is still in Beta so for me to say I’m reviewing an app that is in alpha would be hypocritical so let me call it a hands on instead (Or maybe a first look).
Aviate is a cards based launcher that seeks to simplify your home screen with context and location-based information and apps. The Launcher has two main themes, both based on the Google Now Holo theme, one dark and one light. The dark is ok but the light really is a pleasure to look at. If you like the new google look then this will be right up your street.
There are 4 main screens in Aviate, all of which serve a specific function and only one of these is editable. Now I am used to a lot of customisation as I primarily use Nova Launcher but I found the simple yet efficient system in Aviate to be almost therapeutic. I didn’t need to tweek it to get a good look because it already looked good to me. That’s not to say they couldn’t improve on it by giving me the option to add icon packs but as it stands I’m happy to use it. So I will give you a rundown of the screens.
This is what you would call the home screen and can be thought of as two separate parts. The first part is the main screen. This is pretty much where you live in this launcher. Along the bottom is your favourite bar which can hold as many apps as you want. I like to only have two rows of apps as it looks aesthetically pleasing but that’s just me. The launcher shows a picture as the main widget on the home screen but you can add any other widgets you like although there are issues with that. In its current state the home screen doesn’t scroll down so the static real estate is all you get. You can really only fit three widgets on there before things get too crowded as you can see in this shot. Aviate does frame your widgets in a card which looks really nice but with dynamic widgets you will lose out. For example, I would love to have the 4×2 Google Now widget but Aviate limits it to the 4×1 which gives me only one piece of information.
The second part of the screen is the top which is a “Time and Location based” app drawer. What this means in real terms is a very clever system that shows you different apps and information depending on the time of day or your location. As you can see in this screenshot because it is “night” time the launcher populates your little app drawer with stuff you might like to do in the evening, like read, set alarms or sort out your calendar for the next day. If you are out and about and are near a restaurant it will give you the google listing as well as how many stars it has on Yelp and its social media. It is all done very well and very prettily.
Left Swipe Sidebar:
Like all good holo apps Aviate comes with a sidebar, complete with settings and something called “spaces”. Spaces are basically what appear on the top part of the main screen. You can choose them manually and Aviate have said there are more to come.
The collections screen is basically an app drawer by “genre” that auto populates. So when I download a new game Aviate automatically adds it to my game collection. This makes finding Apps incredibly simple and quick, once you get used to it anyway. The oddest thing about collections though is the absence of a photography one. Given the huge role mobile photography plays its exclusion is odd to say the least (there is a “watching sports” collection and a “cooking” collection but not Photography)
This is pretty self-explanatory. it is an alphabetical list of your apps. Done.
Aviate is easily the most fully featured alpha I have ever used. Its simplicity hides a very precise and helpful launcher while giving you the beauty of Holo that we, as android fans have grown to love. The developer of Aviate has assured me that some of the issues mentioned here are already in the works as well as some other cool features and I can’t wait to see the Beta version or, dare I say, a full version soon?
As I final thought when I use this app I get the same feeling as when I saw Tweetlanes for the first time, and I hope I can see this sentence more often.
This is App making done right.