Microsoft officially released the Arrow Launcher from beta today, available on the Google Play store for free. It is a significant investment in the Android ecosystem, and points to a potential Windows-Android crossover in the future.
Arrow Launcher has been in beta for four months. Microsoft has been polishing the launcher, making sure all of the sections work as intended. The Launcher comes with four sections: contacts, frequent apps, quick notes, and recent. The user can access the sections through a swipe to the left or right.
Instead of everything remaining static, Arrow Launcher constantly updates the sections. Apps are reshuffled depending on when you used them last and contacts are stacked by importance. The recent section shows apps opened recently, photos taken, apps downloaded, and other notifications. Quick notes lets you take notes and set reminders, removing the need for a dedicated app.
It is not the type of launcher for users that enjoy sorting their apps into folders or having a contact list sorted alphabetically.
Arrow Launcher is not the first app to arrive on the Google Play store from Microsoft, in fact the company has launched over 70 apps on Google’s store. Office, OneDrive, Outlook, SmartGlass, and Groove are all available, alongside the Next Lock Screen, also built exclusively for Android.
Compare that to Google’s other mobile rival Apple, the difference is night and day. Apple has launched one app on Android, and that was built by another studio to help new customers switch from Android to iOS. Apple Music — an app that has been available on iOS for over a month — might launch on Android by the end of the year, though Apple doesn’t seem to be in any rush.
Microsoft is already working with Samsung to bring Office to Android, but building its own smartphone for Android might not be far off. Nokia launched a range of low-end Android phones shortly after the Microsoft acquisition, but the range failed to meet expectations.