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.

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