Last October I wrote about Aviate, a contextual launcher for Android that was then an invite-only alpha. In the months since it’s been acquired by Yahoo, who just yesterday published their first branded release to Google Play. Let’s see what’s new!
The home screen looks pretty much the same. You can personalize a big window with a photo, widget or both, and choose either a light or dark theme. By default Aviate will provide you with two rows of shortcuts along the bottom of your screen; I pared it down to a single row for a bigger photo and a cleaner look.
Here’s something new: swipe up from the lower half of the screen and you’ll get a quick list of your favourite contacts, whom you can either call or message via your app of choice.
To the left of home is where you’ll find the contextual info. The default is “Today” mode—with alarms, calendar appointments, weather and something else that’s new: a news ticker powered by Yahoo News Digest. You’ll have to download the app to click through from the headlines, though…
Two screens left of home is where you can manually select different modes. The available options are:
You’ll also see shortcuts to nearby locations here, like YTZ seen above.
One screen to the right of home is where you can assemble custom collections of frequently-used apps. The alpha release I tested last fall had a nasty habit of erasing my carefully-customized collections. Let’s hope that bug has been squashed!
Two screens right of home is where you’ll find a more traditional alphabetized app drawer. It’s made even more convenient by that column of letters down the right-hand side—to find apps beginning with a particular letter of the alphabet just tap on that letter.
If you’re already using other Yahoo products like weather and/or the aforementioned news digest then Aviate might be a good fit for you. It’s certainly an innovative take on the traditional Android launcher, and Yahoo doesn’t seem to have wrecked it too much. 😉
You can download and install Yahoo Aviate Launcher from the Google Play Store.