Hands-on with the Chameleon skin for Android tablets

Canadian design firm Teknision recently announced Chameleon, which promises to be an interesting twist on Android tablet home screens. Besides having streamlined, resizeable widgets that span a bunch of third-party apps like Netflix, Twitter. Spotify, Flickr, and others, Chameleon's signature trait is its ability to automatically change modes based on its surroundings -- hence the name. By setting up certain rules, you can set up Chameleon to shift to a different home screen layout depending on the time of day, GPS location, or which Wi-Fi network you're connected to. In short, it's a smarter version of "scenes" that you might find in various manufacturer UIs.

The build that I played with here in Ottawa was still very much in development, and all of the apps being shown were canned, but the animations and transitions were definitely slick. Teknision is hoping to get outside developers interested in making their own Chameleon widgets with HTML5, but the current sampling that they cooked up with publicly available APIs is pretty sweet. It sounded like it will be a ways off before we'll see these widgets coexisting peacefully with other home screen widgets, so be prepared for an all-or-nothing affair. 

Teknision previously worked on the BlackBerry PlayBook operating system which, say what you will about the app ecosystem, was very nicely designed. Most of the time, these guys work behind the scenes with partners, so it's really interesting to see them step into the limelight a bit and pump out something that's entirely their own. Here's hoping it pays off and they consider doing more slick custom work on Android. 

Chameleon is due out this August, and Teknision is using Kickstarter predominantly to handle preorders and speed up the release. Right now, they're at $31k out of a $50k goal, which is due in 20 days. You can pitch in $5 to get Chameleon before it goes public, and if you're really jazzed about the project, you can help out by providing Android tablet diagnostic information to ensure compatibility. Check out our hands-on video, a few screenshots, and their pitch below that. Any takers?


Reader comments

Hands-on with the Chameleon skin for Android tablets


Yes. I posted about this on G+ a week or so ago. Looks awesome. I pledged $5. gonna pledge $10 later on this evening. If you have an Android tablet, definitely check this out and pledge if you can.

So, forget Microsoft's metro interface, I think this interface will be the best user experience around. I think Google needs to purchase this company now...

is there somthing like this for galaxy nexus?

some thing that will change your phone on location/wifi ect,just like this.
or a profile mod or w/e?

The paid app Tasker can do essentially anything, but there's a bit of a learning curve for the more complicated stuff (it helps that you can download things other people have done for it). Still, I think it's the best utility app I've ever used. It recently added Scenes as well; although I haven't used them yet, it's another step forward for something that could already replace dozens of other apps.

Looking good. I hope by the time they release it, the screen transition will be much much smoother (see the lag between fingers swiping and actual transition)


I am appauled at your encouragement of the misuse of kickstarter. This is a blatent attempt to double-tap a cash supply. The launcher will be a paid app. This project will make its money as every other launcher does. Not only is
it a fraudulent kickstarter, things like this detract from the legitimacy of all kickstarter projects.

Android startup businesses require $50 in funding. $50,000 is an entirely unjustified expense.

This project detracts from Android development.

AndroidCentral, please take note of what you are asking people to support here.

Um, care to explain? Pledges get you pre-orders and early access, and help fund the development. If you had bothered to read the Kickstarter page, you'd see that a pledge of $5 gets you the UI, and you're helping an Android dev deliver the product sooner.

Many developers are worried about developing for Android tablets as the market is small and there's a chance for no return on investment. I don't really get your argument. They clearly state that by pledging you will get the UI, they aren't asking for a pledge and then charging you again for it.

What's your problem?

Aren't they kind of asking you to buy it again tho?

You pledge to the kickstarter and they thank you and send you an apk as promised. They're done.
Now how will updates work? If you actually want timely updates or worst case scenario.. updates at all, your gonna have to buy the app AGAIN from Google Play.

It could work similar to the VIP program that SwiftKey has, where you are allowed access to the beta APKs. Or the app could auto-update itself without accessing Google Play (an in-app update feature). There are lots of ways to go about it - that's a far cry from being fraudulent.

According to the Kickstarter's #2 update (FAQ), the question is asked..
I pledge the five bucks, what happens in September, will I have to buy the app again?
Teknision answers with "If you buy Chameleon via Kickstarter, we will ensure that you pay only once and will have access to all applicable software updates."

While I may not agree with everything he is saying, AdamOutler is a much more prolific person than you are, because I haven't yet heard your name anywhere. He, out of anyone, is definitely allowed to have an opinion regarding something he thinks might affect Android development.

Well I've never heard any of your names before. Nor do I care. Kickstarter was specifically designed so that projects looking for backing could get off the ground. The comment "Android development only cost $50" assumes that this project is being done by some guy with no life living in his mother's basement. Modern software development by an actual development team can easily reach into the hundreds of thousands of dollars, depending on upon the complexity requirements of the project. I know this, because I'm on one of these teams right now, and we're always concerned about whether or not our budget for the next phase is going to get approved.

Everyone is certainly entitled to have an opinion, but we must be careful that we do not approach comments with the attitude that our opinion is undeniably correct and to bash or attack someone for actions simply because we do not agree with them. I believe, in this case, that AdamOutler's intentions were good, but his tone is not. I'm all for open discussion, even when it involves disagreement. One person's ideas may reveal something we had not thought of, but that is exactly the problem with AdamOutler's post: he is berating AndroidCentral when has clearly doesn't know all the facts, nor given the situation sufficient thought.

It looks like a gimmick (changing home screens takes a flip of the finger), but it is absolutely gorgeous.

Google should buy them out. That looks like an evolutionary step in the Android UI.

Granted, I wonder how many widgets will work with it at launch. (because we all know only a few will be customized to work properly with it)

I think that was the demo - they said the home screens would update based on location, time, etc., by the time it is released.

I mean that it's already really easy to change home screens on the default launcher (just swipe). It seems kind of gimmicky to have it change based on any criteria for you.

The whole point, here, is that you can have completely different home screen setups and swap. Like all the screens would be different, not just changing between different screens on the same setup. A good analogy would be like how Sprint does their "Scenes" into HTC Sense.

The reason why they ask for funding is so they can get more perfected tools and to get a wider development team. All this turns out for a better app.

Well honestly, I haven't pledged to this, but I've read about it quite a bit & I love it! I'm going to pledge right away. I love how they've really brought it to the user community for funding & support, its a true grass roots start up. I can't believe that none of the manufacturers have snatched this skin up. If they're going to be so insistent on heavily skinning these devices, you'd think they would want a skin as beautiful & functional as this. Chameleon could very well be a step into the future of "smart UI's". I really like how they're working on schedules to make it sort of intuitive of what the user needs to view at that moment. Hopefully developers will follow suit by integrating Chameleon Widgets with their app's.

I'd love to be able to give these guys $5,000, but unfortunately I was only able to pledge $10... lol... Can't wait to have this on my Transformer Prime. I've been able to use my tablet for quite a bit of my work, and this is going to make it even more useful! I love the user profiles & this is going to be so worth the money!