Nokia is kicking off its new life sans handset business by focusing on Android.
The company today announced the Z Launcher, a new predictive Android launcher that will learn your habits and highlight the apps and contacts you use at specific points during the day. You can also search for apps and contacts right on the home screen by swiping letter shapes.
Z Launcher comes from Nokia’s technologies group, which previously developed features for Nokia’s phones but was run separately. Now that Microsoft has snapped up Nokia’s handset business, the group has the freedom to explore Android more deeply. And now, it can show us what it’s really capable of.
“The more you use it, the better it gets at predicting your every whenever/wherever/whatever,” said Brook Eaton, lead product manager of the Nokia technologies group, in a blog post today. “This way your smartphone becomes more than a constantly shuffling myriad of stuff [sic]. It’s truly your device.”
I haven’t had a chance to test out the launcher yet, but after fighting with plenty of Android interface tweaks over the years, I’m immediately struck by its elegance. It makes sense to highlight different apps throughout the day, and its swiping search is faster than finding a search field and typing in text.
Nokia is only opening Z Launcher up for a limited number of downloads at this point. It faces stiff competition from plenty of other Android launchers on the market, but at first glance it seems far more useful than the ill-conceived Facebook Home.