Nokia shows off the Z Launcher for Android with a simple, smart design

nokia z launcher android home screen app

Microsoft may have bought Nokia’s devices and services division, but some parts of the company are still active and independent. One such group of Nokia employees has been hard at work creating apps for Android. The first app Nokia will debut is the Z Launcher, which offers Android users a very customizable and easy to use home screen layout.

Even though there are a lot of great launcher apps for Android that let you set up your home screen differently, very few of them are simple or elegant. Typically, launcher app creators try too hard to squeeze everything in and end up making your home screen more cluttered. The Z Launcher is all about simplicity.

On the top left of the Z Launcher home screen, you’ll find the time in decent-sized numbers that you can actually read set above the date, which is written in a smaller font. Notifications for calendar events are posted in the top right corner, so you don’t forget your anniversary dinner, staff meeting, or flight departure time. Below are relevant apps and reminders, as well as Web pages that you frequently visit.

The Z Launcher’s ability to predict which apps and Web pages you’re most likely to visit at different times of the day really sets it apart.

The longer you have the Z Launcher on your device, the better it can predict which apps and Web pages you will want to view at certain times of the day. For example, you might always check your email, the weather, news, and Facebook in the mornings before work, so the Z Launcher may show you Gmail, AccuWeather, Flipboard, and Facebook. Later in the day, the apps will change to the ones you use while at work, on your lunch break, or relaxing at home. The Z Launcher’s ability to predict which apps and Web pages you’re most likely to visit at different times of the day really sets it apart.

However, the coolest feature of Nokia’s launcher may be the way it lets you search for other apps and content on your phone. The feature is called Scribble. To search for anything on your phone, you simply draw a letter on the home screen and all the apps and content starting with that latter will show up in the search results. So if you need to call a cab, all you have to do is draw the letter U on the screen, and the Uber app will show up in your results. Since the launcher remembers which apps you look at most often, the one you’re looking for will probably be near the top of the results, that is, unless it’s an app you almost never use.

The Z Launcher is currently available for free as a pre-beta release, but the number of downloads is limited. It should work with most Android phones, running 4.1 or higher, but Nokia says it has only tested the launcher on the Samsung Galaxy S5, S4, S3, and Google Nexus 5. It’s unknown when it will be available for all to download.

Product Review

With sapphire glass and analog dials, you'd never know this watch is smart

The world of hybrid smartwatches is getting much larger, and the latest comes from a name with history — New York Standard Watches. In our NYSW GTS Activity Tracker review, we find out what makes this watch special, and why we were so…
Deals

These are the best Amazon Echo and Google Home deals just in time for Christmas

Smart home inventories at major retailers are dwindling. If you're searching for smart home gifts for delivery before Christmas, don't delay. We found the best deals on Amazon and Walmart for Alexa and Google Home products.
Mobile

These parental control apps will help keep your kids' device habits in check

Looking for extra security and monitoring on mobile devices? Take a look at the best parental control apps for limiting time and keeping watch on your child's phone usage and behavior. We have the top options for Android and iOS here.
Mobile

Is somebody watching you? How to stop apps from tracking your location

If you don't like the idea of your every movement being tracked by apps on the phone in your pocket, then you may want to turn location tracking off. We take a look at how to do it on an iPhone or Android phone in this easy guide.
Mobile

Need to record calls on an iPhone? Check out our handy guide

Are you wondering how to record calls on your iPhone? It isn't as easy as you might think, but we'll walk you through the process of doing so with Google Voice, and identify several other apps and external voice recorders that can help.
Mobile

5G’s arrival is transforming tech. Here’s everything you need to know to keep up

It has been years in the making, but 5G is finally becoming a reality. While 5G coverage is still extremely limited, expect to see it expand in 2019. Not sure what 5G even is? Here's everything you need to know.
Mobile

Which smartphone manufacturers won and lost in 2018

As the curtain comes down on 2018, we take a look at the big successes and failures in the smartphone market over the last 12 months. Which phone maker had the best year, and who had a year to forget?
Mobile

Scientists have charged a phone and a Fitbit with solar-powered clothes

Scientists from Britain's Nottingham Trent University have discovered a way to incorporate solar panels into clothing, and they've even managed to charge a phone and Fitbit with the energy created.
Mobile

The Lenovo Z5 Pro GT packs the most RAM ever seen in a smartphone

The next generation of smartphones has begun, and it's begun with a bang. The Lenovo Z5 Pro GT comes with the next generation Snapdragon 855 processor, 12GB of RAM, and 512GB of storage.
Mobile

The best iPhone XS Max screen protectors to safeguard that huge display

If you love big screens, then the iPhone XS Max's huge 6.5-inch display is perfect for you. But it won't fare well against concrete. Protect your display with the best iPhone XS Max screen protectors.
Mobile

Fitbit supercharges its smartwatches with its new 3.0 operating system

Fitbit announced a new software update for the Versa and Ionic, called Fitbit OS 3.0. The new OS will allow for things like on-device daily views, as well as 10 new third-party apps on the watch.
Mobile

Google’s Gboard keyboard app reaches 500 languages in just two years

In December 2016, Google launched Gboard with support for an already-impressive 100 languages. Since then, however, Google has added a hefty 400 languages to the software keyboard, bringing the total number to 500.
Computing

Sending SMS messages from your PC is easier than you might think

Texting is a fact of life, but what to do when you're in the middle of something on your laptop or just don't have your phone handy? Here's how to send a text message from a computer, whether you prefer to use an email client or Windows 10.
Mobile

Walmart’s $100 discount on 2018 iPad is one of the best we’ve seen yet

The 2018 iPad is one of the best tablets we've ever seen and the tablet we recommend to the vast majority of users. Now, Walmart is offering one of the best deals so far on the device: $100 off the 32GB space gray version.