Launchers are a dime a dozen in the Google Play store. There are free launchers and paid launchers from a reasonable price, to an extremely high price. Today, we’re reviewing the Nokia Z Launcher, the app that comes preinstalled on the recently launched Nokia N1 tablet.
Nokia Z Launcher:
Although still in Beta, the Nokia Z Launcher has already had over 100,000 downloads from the Play Store. This shows what weight the Nokia name still pulls, even if they no longer make the most popular phones, or even Android phones.
Upon first launching the Nokia Z Launcher, you are instructed that to make the launcher work to it’s best, it sends anonymous data to Nokia for processing. This has to be accepted before you can move on. A brief introduction is then given on how do use the launcher. To be honest, it doesn’t take much to work out.
The Nokia Z Launcher is designed to be simple, clean and above all, minimalist. The top of the screen is taken up by a sliding panel with three panes: The time, today’s appointment (if any) and the local weather. Bellow this, you are shown a list of the apps on your device. To find an app, simply draw the first letter of the app on the screen with your thumb. The character recognition of this app is very good, better than any other launcher I’ve tested with this feature. At the bottom of the screen is a dock with four of your chosen apps (often pre-populated with the camera, browser and Play Store icons) as well as the traditional app drawer button in the middle.
You can draw just the first letter to find it, of a combination of the letters to narrow down the search. This same feature is used to search for contacts, which will be displayed according to the letters entered with a handy shortcut to call straight from the launcher pain rather than going through their contact’s card.
You can even perform a web search writing the letters one by one and the Nokia Z Launcher will try to guess what you’re writing and offer suggestions powered by Google (although you can change this in the settings to Baidu only at the moment).
To place new apps in the dock, you tap and hold on the icon of the app you want and then move it to the dock. If there is a search item you don’t want to see (for example, the stock browser on some devices) you tap and hold the name of the app (or person) and choose to hide it.
The settings menu (accessed by a button in the app drawer) is very bare at the moment, allowing you to change the simplest of settings such as search provider, temperature operator and the ability to perform web searches on or off. The rest is access to the tutorial again, information about what is sent to Nokia, and a neat data insight tab which shows you the most popular apps, contacts and searches performed and when in the day the use was heaviest. I expect that more settings will be allowed in the near future as the app develops and grows to user feedback.
The Nokia Z Launcher is a very neat little launcher. To echo the majority of reviews on the Play Store, “this app has promise” and it could be a very worthwhile contender to the title of best launcher in the app store. It’s got to be noted, however, that if you’re not after a minimalist launcher, or like to use widgets, then this launcher (for the time being, anyway) is not for you.
The Nokia Z Launcher is available for free on Google Play store.