EverythingMe Launcher

Sometimes predictions are great, but usually you just want your phone to look the same every time you unlock it.

As the current phrasing goes, when it comes to software and services, "context is king." Being able to look at your habits, usage patterns and tendencies to then make smart decisions on what you'll want next is being trumpeted as the next frontier of mobile computing. We're seeing Apple and Google get in on this game with smart calendar appointments and services like Google Now, but a new breed of contextually-aware launchers and apps have been the talk of the town in the Android world as of late.

The latest entry in this arena on everyone's tongues is EverythingMe Launcher, the product of talented developers EverythingMe (go figure) that wants to help simplify your phone experience and offer compelling new content with little user setup required. The system is pretty simple — look at the apps you have installed, when and for how long you use them and then tailor a homescreen layout to show what it thinks you want before you do.

It sounds like the mobile utopia of our dreams, but this particular time machine needs a little more tinkering before it realizes its true potential. Read with us after the break and see how EverythingMe Launcher is making an argument for being your next launcher choice.

The Prediction Bar: Where you're at, and when you're there.

EverythingMe Launcher homescreen EverythingMe Launcher homescreen

The main point of interaction for EverythingMe Launcher is the so-called "Prediction Bar." This "bar" is simply the bottom row of four app icons (above the dock) that change dynamically based on your location, the time of day and your app usage over time. The leftmost icon will be a folder of sorts, labeled by the time of day — Morning, My Day, Evening. Tapping it will open up a full-screen experience, showing a card (or cards) with relevant information, followed by a row of apps below. In the afternoon, for example, you'll see the "My Day" icon, and be taken to a page with your upcoming calendar appointments and a list of productivity apps you regularly use throughout the day, such as Chrome, Hangouts, Gmail and Google Maps.

With Smart Folders and the Prediction Bar ever-changing, you rely on your dock for the only four icons that won't change.

Back on the homescreen, the other three icons to the right will be your most-used apps during that time of day. For me, I see things like the Android Central app, Pocket Casts and Google+ in the morning, and Google Play Music, Facebook Messenger and Foursquare in the afternoon. Every once and a while you'll see another contextual app called "Around Me" that provides location-based information — à la Google Now — along with location-heavy apps and info like Foursquare, Yelp and the like.

Even after using EverythingMe Launcher for over a week, I still found the Prediction Bar to be minimally useful. With the emphasis on Smart Folders (I'll get to this more below) and this row of icons ever-changing, you rely on your four icons in the dock as being the only thing not constantly changing on your homescreen. I have more than four apps that need to be regularly accessed throughout the day, and I'd like to know exactly where they are at any given time. I shouldn't have to guess whether or not something like Facebook Messenger or my phone dialer will be in the Prediction Bar based on the time of day — this uncertainty is the exact reason why contextually-aware launchers just don't work for many.

​Truly universal search

EverythingMe Launcher

If there's one thing that EverythingMe launcher has absolutely nailed, it's the process and interface around universal search. While the functionality closely matches that of the latest Google Search integration in Android 4.4 KitKat, the display and instantaneous response you get on EverythingMe Launcher gives off a better feeling. Start typing anything — a contact name, app name, news topic, web search — and your phone will attempt to search every available bit of software, as well as the web, for information on what you're typing. As a nice touch, the background of the search screen even updates to show an image of the topic.

Typing "Andr" for example shows the Android Central app, contact listings for anyone named "Andrew" and shortcuts to bring you to search results from the Calendar and Google Play apps. Underneath any on-phone content, you'll also see a field named "More from the web" with dozens and dozens of round icons — this is where things get a little weird with EverythingMe Launcher.

Some of the web apps are useful, but they're still web apps in a world where Google Play has 900,000 better choices.

These round, app-like icons are actually just links to web pages, each of which simply loads in an in-launcher chromeless (i.e. no navigation bars or buttons) browser. Call them web apps, call them anything you want, at this point they're simply just web pages. Search for "Olympics" and you'll see an endless stream of links to web pages from sites of various reputations with coverage of the games. The top results will be things like the official Olympics website and Yahoo! News, but then you also get the Nascar website (what?), WWE (okay...) and mobile Twitter.

At the same time, I get no app results for the NBC Live Extra app, YouTube app, Google+ app, Facebook app or the actual Twitter app — all things that are installed on my phone and relevant to the Olympics. They're all just web pages that EverythingMe is presumably making some kind of affiliate deals with. These web apps don't resume nicely from the multitasking menu, don't act the same as native apps when using the back and home buttons and generally just don't offer a great experience on Android right now.

It's clear to us at this point that EverythingMe Launcher makes drastically more sense on a device that doesn't have a mature app platform and store, such as Firefox OS. Conveniently, Mozilla and EverythingMe have even inked a deal to bring this launcher technology to Firefox OS, which uses web apps as its sole way of serving content to users. If everything's a web app, EverythingMe simply offers a robust selection of apps to choose from. But when you could be using Google Play instead, these results just look bad.

This is no way a bad mark on EverythingMe Launcher as a technology or platform, and we actually think that this system has more potential for a seamless web/app experience, but it really just doesn't make sense on a modern Android device with the Google Play Store and such a stark quality divide between native and web apps.

Smart Folders

EverythingMe Launcher

There are no regular app folders in EverythingMe Launcher, only "Smart Folders." When starting up EverythingMe Launcher for the first time, you'll be greeted with a selection of general folders such as Games, Music, Social and News, each pre-populated with the apps that presumably fit those categories. You can create new Smart Folders at any time, selecting which apps you want to be grouped and then letting the launcher pick a name and more associated apps to go with it.

Smart suggestions, but the news links and web app suggestions again go over the top.

The result is a bit of a mixed bag. Not only do you get folders filled with apps that you just don't want — leaving you to further groom and remove improperly-placed apps — but you are again given the not-so-great "more from the web" option at the bottom of each folder. As we discuss above, you'll be linked to web pages roughly-relevant to the apps in the folder. Things borderline on redundant in folders like "Social" where you have Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and LinkedIn web page links directly below a list of native installed apps that are for the exact same services.

The offerings go even further in Smart Folders like "News," where the folder is dominated by a horizontally-scrolling set of cards linking to news stories from a variety of outlets (again with a variety of reputations), with your installed news apps featuring at the bottom of the screen. In the "Games" Smart Folder, at the end of your list of installed games you'll also see one or two "Sponsored" titles that are available for download in the Play Store — it's great that they're prominently marked as such, but I still don't need game advertisements in my games folder.

Who wants this?

EverythingMe Launcher

To my eyes, EverythingMe Launcher is best described as a tech demo rather than as a real product that has usefulness for a broad range of Android users. Falling right in line with apps like Aviate and Cover, EverythingMe Launcher tries to be the perfect solution for people who don't want to spend time configuring their phones — issue being that predictions are never perfect, and there will always be configuration of some sort.

The tangible benefits of generally great universal search and content discovery are cast in the shadow of weird web app suggestions, Smart Folders that aren't all that smart and time-of-day predictions that can never live up to their promises. What it really comes down to is the fact that you don't have to be a control freak to want your homescreens to just look the same every time you unlock your phone.

As I covered above I see a lot of potential in the technology behind EverythingMe Launcher, and with the right implementation and platform it could prove be a truly useful set of tools. But in its initial just-out-of-beta form, I'll be sticking to a traditional launcher that gives me the control — after all, nobody knows me like I do.

 

Reader comments

EverythingMe Launcher review: You just don't know me

39 Comments

I think it is a bug with the new CMS they just implemented. Just be patient and everything will get worked out.

Posted via Android Central App

I actually like the launcher a lot and I'm currently using it over GEL
First I think you put too much emphasis on the 4 icon prediction bar, yes it doesn't always know what I need, but in my experience it often does. and you don't have to rely on the that prediction bar.
You can place plenty of smart folders on the homescreen, and those smart folders are customizable.
If a app is miscategorized you can remove it and add it to the correct smart folder and by far it gets it right more often than wrong so it saves time arranging apps manually.
The smart folder categories reflect a lot of the categories that I and many people use, and having new games I install automatically available in the games folder is nice. You can also change the order of icons, so in that way it is more like a traditional folder I can put my favorite apps up at the top.

As for the web apps, do I always use them, no but sometimes they offer helpful suggestions
the universal search is also pretty good in my experience.

It's not a launcher for a control freak, but it's a nice launcher with interesting new features.
Every custom launcher doesn't need to be targeted at those that need to control every aspect of their phone customization.

I've installed this app three times. This review nails my experience all three times. It's a good launcher, but not good enough for my needs, and it's a bit redundant in some areas.

Posted via my oldie but goodie Nexii 4 using the Android Central App

Same here. I liked it but for some reason I kept feeling that at the same time something was issuing, it also felt like a bit much. The news was not targeted to what I would read. I liked the folders but didn't like the Web links. I wish they would actually be links to apps, meaning that if I saw something that caught my eye then by selecting it I would be directed Google play and be able to download it.

Posted via Android Central App

"Sometimes predictions are great, but usually you just want your phone to look the same every time you unlock it."

This is EXACTLY. What I have been saying every time I try one of these dynamic apps/lockscreens/launchers. I don't want to have to find things - I want to know exactly where they are.

Yes, Windows introduced a feature like that back in 98 or so. I haven't heard much about it since, but the first thing I'd do is turn that feature OFF.

Exactly. I like Google Now because it's dynamic when I want to see something dynamic. Taking a photo? Writing a text message? Checking my work email? That stuff needs to stay exactly where I expect it to be.

Great article Andrew, as always.

As for the launcher, not for me, like a clean minimal home page, not cluttered with app shortcuts

Posted via my outdated Droid RAZR Maxx HD using the Android Central App

Let me just say this, I use Cover half the time and the stock lock screen the other half. This in itself should tell people that I like contextually aware devices as well as customizable devices. Right now the best compromise I've found is Cover. Contextual for my lock screen and Apex launcher for my home screen.

Posted from my "KNOX-FREE" 4.3 Sprint GS3 Maxx...!!!
(ZeroLemon 7000mA battery and ZeroShock Case)

This review pretty much describes my experience with this launcher, and Cover. They need to have more settings to make them more tweakable. I want to tell a contextually aware launcher what apps I want in what situation. Cover needs more contexts for example, home, office, car and out are not enough. I need a gym one, and a photo one, and the option to add others.

I ended up going back to Nova Launcher, with its wide availability of gestures, I can get pretty much anything done without having to clutter my screen with things I don't need. Good concept though

Nailed it. Add to this the fact that the prediction bar is sometimes a set of four icons and sometimes a clock, and you have one more clever idea that is really just another annoyance.

someone will have to do an actual productivity comparison between these "intelligent" launchers and old school organising your icons as you will. i know exactly where each of my icons are and granted i haven't tried any of these launchers yet but i am not sure i want them messing up and changing my icons around every single time i unlock my phone or for different periods of the day. and i certainly dont want ads (ehm app "suggestions). i guess this launcher might be useful to people with hundreds of apps and still all you need do is ask google now to launch an app and it will.

I didn't like the launcher at first, but I gave it another go and it grew on me. I'm going to keep using it for the time being. I think it is kind interesting to see what the launcher chooses. This might work very nicely on the upcoming Nokia Android phone because it won't have Google Play.

I also agree with the review. I was disappointed the news articles were unrelated to my interest and location. You would think they would have nailed that easily. I just uninstalled it.

The news articles were the most surprising oversight of "context." It seems they did nothing to predict what you'd like to read when suggesting news articles.

I've been using it for about a week now, and have found that I really like it so far. There are a lot of features I simply don't use, (like the news folder), but others I really like. I feel like it has been getting to know me better and suggesting apps to me that I use frequently at certain times of day, which is great.
I find it strange how it lets you create your own folders and then determines a category for it and turns it into a smart folder, but being able to have multiple folders of the same smart type that you can independently customize is great.
I do really like the Morning, My Day, Evening thing that shows weather and appointments along with apps I tend to use at those times of day.
I don't care for the More from the Web sections either, but in most of my folders I just don't scroll down that far and ignore it.

I'm not sure this is for me. I'm so OCD that I spell it CDO to keep it in alphabetical order! Maybe I should try it a little longer, though, to give it a chance to learn my usage.

Posted via Android Central App

I'm not surprised by the conclusion of this review. In my experience, most apps that try to predict user behavior fail miserably at it.

I used it but it showed a lot of times I don't have on my phone. It's like ads all over it!

Posted via Android Central App

" My internet browser heard us saying the word Fry and it found a movie about Philip J. Fry for us. It also opened my calendar to Friday and ordered me some french fries. "

Posted via Android Central App

I tried EverythingMe for a few days and came to pretty much the same conclusion.
Despite being in the UK it insisted on giving me local news for Arkansas (and sometimes Utah).
The locations of my apps would move around (perhaps the point of this app) but that just meant it took me longer to find them than if i just had a few manual app folders.
The search bugged the hell out of me - 98% of the time I use search it is for a web search (is that just me?) so showing me a selection of random web pages that look like Apps below a list of currently installed Apps is not useful.
I got frustrated by the smart folders pushing certain apps my way, bugging me to install them.

So, i don't think a predictive launcher is for me. I quite liked Cover, as a lock-screen replacement because you are free to ignore it but it could never figure out if i was at work or not (for the silent setting).

Interesting launcher but the search bar used to bring up installed apps relevant to your search topic, now you get web wrappers. My wife likes it, I think it needs more work.

Tried this and similar launchers, and its always the same end result. Takes me longer to get things done. So back to Apex I go.

I'm sorry but this review is bullshit, the Web apps are to give you quick info and work very well as you'll recognise certain sites by the logo. And to say just install all the great apps on your phone is just the most ridiculous idea ever, most people only ever use 10 different apps a day yeah you have a lot more installed on your phone but you don't use them simple as that, but with this launcher you have the benefit of using these webapps without filing up space. apps are suggested that don't get all the android hype so you might not recognise them but omg I've found some gems because of this launcher. This launcher works very well and is just getting better and better.

Posted via Android Central App