ZTE has some made a surprising news announcement. It’s to release a smartphone which uses the Google Now Launcher instead of its own custom user interface, which will give the device a Nexus-style look. What’s more, ZTE will be doing the same thing on any future Android 4.4 devices too. ZTE has previously used its own MiFavor user interface in an attempt to stand out, and ironically, by abandoning it, ZTE stands out a little more. It joins a very select few manufacturers – such as Motorola – not using a custom UI over the top of Android.
In addition to the cleaner, simpler, and faster interface, the launcher adds Google Now as a home screen, accessible with a swipe, and lets users use voice commands to control their device. ZTE will also add in its own voice command feature, which has a wider range of functions, specific to the device, to try out.
The company will announce the first phone with the Google Now Launcher installed at an event on July 24. It’s called the Blade Vec 4G, and comes with a Snapdragon 400 processor, Android 4.4 KitKat, and of course, 4G LTE connectivity. On the same day, ZTE will reveal a second, premium device also running Google’s launcher.
Google recently made the Google Now Launcher available through the Google Play store, where it can be installed on selected Android phones, so even if you don’t own a Nexus of Google Play Edition smartphone, there is a chance you can experience the joy that is stock Android. ZTE’s decision to use the same interface should be welcomed, and could make its devices more popular, particularly as in the past it’s the software which has let the brand down.
We’ll find out all the details on the Blade Vec 4G, and get our first look at the other new phone, on July 24. ZTE’s press release states the new stock Android phones will launch in Europe, China and Hong Kong, but doesn’t mention the U.S. at this stage.