If you have been following the personal tech space from the early 2000s, it is next to impossible for you not to have developed a soft spot for Nokia products. For a lot of us, our very first mobile device was a Nokia. The mere fact that there would be no more Nokia phones manufactured post the sale of the mobility division to Microsoft was a bitter pill to swallow. However, whatever of Nokia is left which includes a product team working on software solutions has already embraced the change and moved on.
Nokia announced the first product post the sale of the mobility division to Microsoft in the form of an Android launcher called the ‘Z Launcher’. It is ironic that the first product from the new Nokia is for the platform, most Nokia fans wanted Nokia to make a permanent move to long ago.
Features of the Z Launcher
The Z launcher is a very simple home screen replacement for your Android device. The launcher is currently in Beta and has a very clean and minimal look to it. You need to download the apk from the Z Launcher webpage linked below, and install it on your phone to run the launcher.
Once you do that, the launcher takes over your Android device. On the desktop you basically have a widget that shows you the time and date alongside one calendar appointment and alarm if you have set. Post that you have six recent actions listed. This could be the apps you ran or people you contacted.
Nokia says that the launcher, over the period of time learns from the usage pattern of the user and places the apps you visit most often on the desktop. You can access the full app drawer by pressing the icon in the dock. Alternatively, you can just write letters on the screen to access the contact or application of your choice. The launcher is pretty good with handwriting recognition and if you write more than four letters, it automatically prompts you to Google Search the keyword.
There are not a lot of customizations in the launcher currently, and buy the looks of it, you are restricted to just the default single desktop setup without support for third party widgets, rendering widgets pretty much useless. Also, there is no option for changing icons or wallpaper from within the launcher, as the launcher just picks the last wallpaper you had set. Also, the system font we felt in the launcher was a tad thinner and smaller. The icons are definitely a point smaller and on a device like our HTC M8 it doesn’t really use up all the space that a large screen provides.
Overall, the experience was good, though obviously this is a very early release of the launcher and more features will be added to the launcher as the time goes on. We just hope that Nokia pursues this project and does not abandon it halfway down the road.