Given the difficulties faced by Facebook Home, an Android homescreen replacement app makings interacting with the social network much easier for mobile users, it’s smart to be cautious about the possibilities for success of various other, alternative ‘smart homescreen’ apps. Apps like Andreessen Horowitz-backed Aviate, for example, which though still in alpha format was recently thrust into the limelight following a suggestion on Reddit.

Supposedly, an individual took place upon the app’s alpha version which had been live on Google Play in the hopes of getting a couple hundred very early testers, and afterwards shared that link in Reddit’s / r/Android area. Whether creative viral advertising or genuine word-of-mouth (one can never be too sure), the business quickly needed to make the app invite-only, not able to scale the ability the Reddit posting required.

For those unfamiliar, Aviate was developed by an ex-Googler team at ThumbsUp Labs in Palo Alto, and closed on $1.8 million in seed funding last December. Its efforts include a smart Android homescreen replacement, where apps are instantly classified and revealed to you based upon your existing context like home, heading out, evening, and so on

At the time of the funding statement, the business talked just vaguely of the app’s capabilities, explaining that the overall goal was constructing a mobile user interface that adapted to users, rather than offering a grid of apps.

It’s a concept whose time has definitely come.

The Problem With An App Grid

Today’s app stores are running at full capacity, even as the app shop gold rush reveals no indicators of decreasing. At this year’s WWDC, for example, Apple revealed there are now 900,000 iOS applications available for download, and Google’s Android marketplace, Google Play, is not really too far behind with over 800,000 apps, according to expert quotes in Might.

No user would ever before download every mobile application, naturally – and, yes, a great deal of them are spam. But even if an individual downloaded a tiny fraction of the readily available offerings, under half a percent for example, you are still talking about filling a phone with hundreds or hundreds of applications. Today, there’s simply no chance to expand your app collection without disposing some of your lesser-used apps off your gadget.

This issue is a byproduct of the method our mobile interfaces have been made. Smartphones today are motivated by Apple’s iOS, which provides row after row of app icons which you can pack into folders to save space. Android, though having actually popularized the principle of homescreens and app trays, doesn’t deviate far from that initial format, particularly because individuals’ homescreens have the tendency to still house a bunch of app icons.

Aviate, refreshingly, is quite various. The app eliminates the app grid, which is a welcome change, but it also overtakes your whole phone’s user interface while doing so – like the way Facebook House does. This isn’t as welcome.

Since the app is still in early screening, it’s unfair to do a formal review. However up until now a minimum of, color me interested.

Aviate Rethinks The Interface

After setup, Aviate generally works like any Android launcher – you’ve to set it as the default (hit ‘Constantly’ when prompted), in order to have it react when you tap your phone’s ‘House’ button. The launcher is more limited than typical homescreen replacements in with regards to having the ability to include and resize widgets and move them around between various screens. Rather, widgets are put above a row of favorite apps (Gmail, Phone, SMS, e.g.) and below a built-in date/time/weather drop-down.


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What’s even more intriguing nonetheless, is the idea of ‘Areas’ which Aviate presents. Swiping to the side exposes a list that lets you move between contexts like ‘Work,’ ‘Neighboring Places,’ ‘Going Someplace’ and ‘Setups,’ in addition to the default area which is based upon the time of day. As you relocate in between these areas, your screen updates to show a various collection of applications and various other inbuilt widgets, like a Calendar in work or Directions widget for ‘Going Someplace.’

You can also swipe to the left from any customized homescreen to discover even more app collections – instantly arranged groupings based on apps’ functions and functions, like ‘Social,’ ‘Information,’ ‘Songs,’ ‘Games,’ ‘Morning Routine,’ ‘Grocery Buying,’ ‘House’ and more. And if you do not have adequate apps for one of these classifications, you just tap the ‘brand-new’ button for an app referral.

Another swipe takes you to an A-Z list of applications, which you can scroll with like an address book.

restaurant-aviateWhat’s intriguing about Aviate is that it does not just refurnish your homescreen, it actually updates as you alter what you are doing. For example, when you wake up, you’ll have one display with meetings and weather info, but when you are out driving, you’ll have an additional with traffic and directions.

The trouble it has, though, like Facebook Home does, is that it takes control of your smartphone’s interface entirely. I ‘d choose having the ability to gain access to Aviate as an add-on to Google Now, maybe, or through an unique motion from my ‘normal’ homescreen. It’s perturbing to have to quit the customization efforts I’ve actually currently made in order to have the advantages of its contextual knowledge.

That being stated, there’s a grain of a concept here that’s really extreme, if deceptively easy in its execution: that our mobile gadgets have to arrange themselves around us and our lives, instead of the various other way around. After spending more than a few hours with a phone that appears to have a knowledge of its own, it’s evident simply how dumb our smartphones today really are, and the amount of further they can still go.

Aviate co-founder Mark Daiss says the team is now dealing with enhancing the efficiency, refining the UI and UX, and squashing bugs, as well as constructing out more Areas while improving the material in those that currently exist.

The invite system is stay in the app now, but the business doesn’t intend on launching more for a minimum of a week or two, if then. Stay tuned.