Android Central

Whatever your own personal opinions on the birth of the Chameleon Launcher project, one thing remains the same. People are talking about it. As people talk, interest grows, and Chameleon certainly brought a whole new take to the custom launcher scene. Very much a widget-orientated UI, there's no denying that it could completely change the look and feel of your Android tablet. 

And that's the other thing of course. Initially Chameleon launched exclusively for Android tablets. Then, not all that long ago, we got a first glimpse at a phone version in early testing. Things have progressed well since then, and the finished product is here. Sort of. At the moment, Kickstarter backers and pre-order customers can snag a copy of the phone version of Chameleon, ahead of it going on general release soon. So, how well does it transition to the smaller screen? Let's find out. 

Chameleon Launcher for Phones video walkthrough

I don't like widgets, I'll say that right now. For me, they've just never felt that well done, and a screen full of widgets -- especially on a smartphone -- to me at least, looks messy. I also can't stand empty space on the screen, it feels wasted. So, on the face of it, Chameleon could well be the launcher I've been looking for. OK, so the UI is heavily widget-focused, but because the Chameleon widgets have been designed as part of the launcher everything fits. They look like they belong there. 

What's more, there's actually quite a lot going on in Chameleon for phones. Considering it's still a beta product, it's very polished, and has made the transition to the smaller screen very well. But, it's by no means perfect, and there are some things that aren't so great, and a few bugs. 

The good

  • Gorgeous UI - Chameleon really maximizes the usefulness of your screen real estate with some really well designed widgets
  • Speaking of widgets, the weather widget is sublime and when tapped enters into whichever weather app you happen to be running
  • Smooth scrolling and transition effects
  • Folders are now included, and the linked folders functionality to share between different dashboards is a nice touch
  • Scrolling dock is nice, as is the fact it doesn't disappear when you open the app drawer. For most commonly used stuff it's pretty useful having it there all the time. 
  • There's now a 'Beta News' widget, keeping beta users up to date with all the latest goings on right on their home screen if they so wish.

The not-so-good

  • Some of the widgets are a little wooly, Google+ and YouTube for example seem to have a habit of signing you out and Gmail seems to be somewhat hit and miss on when it updates. 
  • Restarting the phone seems to auto add Chrome to the dock. Chrome Beta was always removed in its place. 
  • Would be nice for the Twitter widget to open up a Twitter client the same way the weather widget opens up a weather app. 
  • Linked folders currently have a habit of losing content, although the developers are looking into this. 
  • Still a limited selection of Chameleon widgets.

Bugs are to be expected though, as are features we'd like to see. All in all Chameleon for phones is an impressive launcher that offers an interesting experience. For someone like me who enjoys a content-heavy home screen approach, Chameleon is well worth a look. Best of all, the transition to the smaller screen has gone really well.

Kickstarter backers and pre-order customers can grab a copy at the Play Store link above, but bear in mind you'll need to download a new version of the calendar plugin. For everyone else, it should be available soon, but we've got a good selection of screenshots for you down below. 

Chameleon for Phones   Chameleon for Phones

Chameleon for Phones   Chameleon for Phones

Chameleon for Phones   Chameleon for Phones

Chameleon for Phones   Chameleon for Phones

 

Reader comments

Hands on with Chameleon Launcher for phones

28 Comments

I've had version 1 on my Galaxy Tab since Chameleon came out. It has its shortcomings, but it's not as bad as some make it out to be. There are a few in the 1 star category that are either false or these people need to forget about using anything but a dumb phone. I can say the same for the beta. BTW, that's my secret for happy shopping on Amazon -- I look at the 1 star reviews, first. If there are too many with real and serious issues, I don't buy.

Having said that, Chameleon isn't for everyone. Most stuff works, but it's a flat, simple UI. If you like 3D widgets, this is not for you, although you can now mix and match standard and Chameleon widgets.

There are some issues, right now, with some of the Chameleon widgets as they're getting revamped to be usable on version 2, as well. And version 2 has a few things that need to be fixed before release, such as no landscape on my Note 2. But I like it. If you have an option to try it, take a look, then decide.

I've been using the KickStart version on my Nexus 10 tablet. It's taking some getting used to, it's quite the paradigm shift ($.50 phrase of the day).

I'll try it on my One X+ this evening. Might be easier to adapt to now.

The thing is, buyers who bought the launcher on the play store dont get to install it yet, its only for the kickstarter users for now with the improved and combined version for phones. Saddens me as i like the concept but the one we normal mortals can install is just abysmally bad. They should not separate people who pay them for the app into preferred and less preferred customers.

The normal price is $3.99 for the tablet version, $2.99 for the phone version. The Kickstarter supporters who got the project going and the pre-order customers (that's pre-order to version 1, last year) all paid $10 or more to support development. You don't think those people ought to be shown more appreciation and might make better beta testers, having used version 1?

the thing is, it was not 3.99$ until recently, but more (around 10$ on the play store as well), anyhow they would get more input from more users, which would benefit them more. They claim at so me point the 3.99$ version will get the same update and phone functionality as the kickstarter one too, hopefully at least, else i have really wasted cash on this poorly executed great idea.

I think you miss-read his comment. Might wanna re-read it =D

He states that if you PAID for the app through the google play store, then you get a crappy version. But if you PAID through kick starter, then you get a really good version.

In both instances, you're still paying the developer for their "time and effort".. Therefore, you're comment is kinda wasted

It is still in BETA... Part of backing it on kickstarter was to get into these betas.... You are mad because people who support pre-production development of a product get extra benefits? Are you also mad that those that purchased the ouya get it 2 months early, or that should a paid extension to minecraft release (yeah right) alpha purchasers get it free?

If its still beta then why is it in the Play Store? They should do their own QC, they shouldnt expect people to pay to sort out their shit.

It really is not. You get a variety of useful widgets instead of just "feeds". They all look uniform and nice. This way you actually use up your homescreen instead of turning it into a second app drawer. Plus, if you like regular widgets, use them. Also how does it look ugly? Lets see your launcher. Yes you could theme a launcher and put a couple hours into making it look spectacular but some people like simplicity while still getting customization.
Also, the feature for switching homescreen based on location, time, or wifi network is extremely convenient.

Not paying for another launcher. Already had Nova prime and action launcher. I'm not paying for another one.

They were selling it for 10E and now price dropped to 3euro. I remember when I first heard about it "this launcher will blow you out" "never seen before" and so on... Looks like a big fail to me, won't dl it even for free.

Does the device have to be rooted to install this? This doesn't come out with a factory reset....