Simple, stylish and full of predictions

Nokia certainly caught us off guard by suddenly throwing an Android launcher out into the world. Known as Z Launcher, the project is currently in limited pre-beta status but anyone with a supported device can register, download and take it for a spin. So that's exactly what we did.

There's really not much to the Z Launcher. The main homescreen displays the 6 apps, contacts or web links that it thinks you're going to want to use right now. Over time, the launcher should learn your habits – even depending on what time of day it is – and change what it displays to suit. The dock down the bottom is – at least for now – non-customizable and fills with common stock apps such as the phone, camera and messaging apps. Interestingly it added Google Camera here for us on the LG G3 and not the LG camera app.

Nokia Z Launcher

Beyond the homescreen is an app drawer that follows the same style as the homescreen and contains just an alphabetized list of all your apps. No widgets, since the Z Launcher doesn't support them. But scrolling, at least in our test, is silky smooth and so far we've come across no dramas at all.

The hidden talent of the Z Launcher is it's gesture control. Trace a letter on the homescreen and it'll show you apps, web links and contacts beginning with that letter. Trace another letter and it'll narrow down the selection even more. If you make a mistake, a swipe to the left will erase the last letter. It's pretty accurate and actually pretty snappy to use.

Of course, it's the predictive side of Z Launcher that sits at the heart and it's something we'll need to use it a while for to get a real idea on. But it's an interesting start, if nothing else. Z Launcher is currently in 'pre-beta' and is being offered for download to a limited number of users right now. You'll find more on that at the link below but for now be sure to check out the first hands on video up top.

More: Z Launcher


Reader comments

Hands on with the Nokia Z Launcher


The concept isn't terrible. I tried it and thought it was OK. I don't see the launcher working for me but I could see some people I know preferring something like this once it's past Beta

Posted via Android Central App

I need quick glance widgets!
Looks nice, but Aviate is Better!
Google has a Gestures App that does the same thing.

Posted via Android Central App

If anything, knowing Nokia as I do (I've been with them for 15 years) I'm pretty sure they'll make this launcher awesome. And I'm VERY glad that the first thing they did once they got rid of Eflop and Microsoft was to put out stuff for Android. God damn it, I know I should have bought a back up Android to test these things. I guess I'll have to go try to get myself a cheap Z1C.

I tried it. Like many others I didn't care for it. Add to the fact that you can't change the bottom row of icons doesn't bode well for it either. Not a bad idea but I think I can just click faster than drawing things out.

The most annoying launcher I have ever tried , can't touch the screen without writing a letter each time. I can scroll through my home screens and find the app I want much quicker than writing a letter on the screen. The icons at the bottom can't be changed , android is better than ios because of the customization , this takes that away. Nova is way better.

It looks like you would be less efficient with this launcher. What happens when you have a bunch of tweets, 20 emails in activesync, a dozen Gmails, a bunch of Hangouts messages, and Facebook Messenger messages?

Wouldn't it be a pain in the butt to have to swipe the letter or go down the alphabetical list to get to an app that would normally be in a static spot on your home screen.

I get the concept that it will learn how you like to view apps and prioritize them, however I doubt it will be nearly as efficient as leaving the apps in their standard spots so you can quickly access them.

Posted via Android Central App

Different and unique, but no way I could use this as an everyday launcher. Nova for me still.

Posted via Android Central App

I'll join the the "I don't hate it crowd".
I've been using it this morning. It is obviously incomplete as a professional launcher, but better than alot of amateur ones out there. It is kind of nice. Draw a letter or two and find your app or contact. That's sort of how I use Chrome nowadays.

It probably wont stay as my regular Launcher, but I'll stick with it for a while. Just because.

I'm sure of it.

Also, lots of people here seem to have skipped over the part of the article that said it's a PRE-BETA (aka Alpha). I don't know how used they are to Alpha and Beta stuff...probably not very used if they complain that an Alpha release is incomplete...

Oh so much THIS.

It's, what two years before they can put out a phone, in the meantime they'll keep throwing things like this out to keep the Nokia name alive in the minds of Android users and then they'll drop a serious Android phone on us. Cannot wait to get my hands on a Carl Zeiss lense equipped Nokia Android phone.

Less than that. They can start selling their own phones starting 1st January 2016. And Suri (Nokia's new CEO) has clearly left the door open for that to happen (after all...their Technologies division from where this came, the ones holding all the patents, has as goal to develop innovation for "future devices and services").

Hope you don't mean me. I had a Windows Phone and hated it. That ok with you?

Posted via Android Central App

Generally speaking, of course. For me it is the inaccuracies of YouTube comments. Best to just correct misinformation from any OS.

Remember, this is an Alpha release. Be sure to let Nokia know your suggestions and problems through their forums and through the app feedback. Nokia does listen to those things unlike other companies ;)

Wanted to try it out, but it won't work at all because I'm rooted.

Posted via Android Central App

Giving out a shot today... So far I like it, although it takes some adjustment since I love sense 6 stock so much. This is the first android phone I've owned in a while where I didn't use Apex (probably because I used it to hide the crap that is Touchwiz).

Posted via Android Central App

(Obligatory "want to try but can't because I'm rooted" statement)

I'm actually pretty intrigued by this, I'm not big on the "predictive" launchers but this one looks really nice. The two big things holding me back (besides the "no root" thing): no other "screens" (and hence no widgets because there is no room) , no customizable dock. Give me those, and I'll give it a try

(and I know about root cloak and other ways to hide root, but I'm not going to bother in the state that Z-launcher is now)

Remember this is in ALPHA. It's nowhere near being completed. Rest assure folks at Nokia will vastly improve this overtime ;)

Just installed terrain home launcher which is also new and I'm lovin it... Its my second best launcher after Nova launcher
Posted via Android Central App

I detest predictive launchers. But have fun, if that's your thing.

Posted from the (4.2 updated) redheaded stepchild of the Nexii

I like this launcher because it keeps the most used apps ready and fasten the process of finding apps. It need a lot of improvements, but I think it will be good enough after the Beta.

why not nokia make this z launcher for windows phone i think this is bad news for all windows phone users, I am feeling very bad to show this bluddy app that's the reason nokia goes down & down.

Nokia make fool to all windows phone users. for z launcher & now city lens app.This is the signal for go with android higher phones above mention & leave nokia's windows phone.

Just what I needed - simple, elegant and after changing to this launcher coicidentally had my G3's juice longer. Besides, I don't have the need for a fancy launcher with all sorts of network chatty updates nor do I have the need for all sorts of apps in my phone.

My only gripe is about the Location displayed. Here displays my location correctly.