Nokia, which is now fully owned by Microsoft (for 7.2 billion dollars) is figuratively going to be producing nothing but Windows phones. We all quietly hope to have a quality product from Nokia running Android one day though. They have been sneaking out some surprises with the release of budget Android phones like the Nokia X. However in a surprise move, Nokia released a beta test version of their own Android launcher on Wednesday.

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The launcher is called Z Launcher. It is available only as an APK download currently if you are able to get the download button to work. There were issues initially getting the download to actually work. It took me an hour of trying and retrying to get the link to finally work and for the APK to download. Keep in mind this is a Beta release, so expect bugs.

For those who are able to download the launcher, it is contextual in nature, similar to Aviate and strongly uses gestures to locate applications. The launcher will adjust to your daytime and evening usage to make a more tailored user experience and their goal is to make it easier to find applications when you need them.


On their initial blog entry they state, "At Nokia we've been thinking about ways to make smartphones easier to use, and there's one problem we've thought about a lot; how to find stuff right when you need it. Today, people have an average of 48 apps on their phones, and that number is growing. When you add in contacts, web content, and tasks, it's easy to see how tricky our devices have become to use."

They're going to accomplish this with a gesture based search they call Scribble. Users should be able to just type the first letter of what they're looking for and the launcher will find that application for them. It does appear that they do give an app drawer, so they're not completely revamping an Android experience, but they're making it contextual.

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There has been one caveat so far. If you have a rooted phone though, currently Z Launcher is not supported. I was treated with a message that they currently do not support rooted phones and had me exit the application. So with my two rooted devices, I was unable to take a first hand view of this application. I would hope since it's in very early beta and with a good amount of feedback coming in on their Feedback site that they will allow rooted users the same privilege as non rooted users.

If you've been able to download this new beta launcher, let us know what you think. If you have a rooted device like I do, consider going to their feedback site and let them know to allow rooted users to use their launcher.



From: Nokia

H/T: TechCrunch