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The Android launcher market has been heating up lately, and Aviate is looking to differentiate itself among a crowded group. Whereas most launchers seem to emulate the stock Android launcher while adding additional customization options, Aviate has reinvented the experience from the ground up.

This launcher looks like something designed by Google with a lot of swiping and styling reminiscent of the Google Now cards. But its killer feature is that it changes throughout the day based on the time and your location. In theory, it should change to better suit your needs. I was skeptical of how well that could be done, but Aviate pulls it off quite well.

Interested? Then let’s dive into this new kind of launcher.

User Interface

Below is a picture of what the home screen looks like. The picture was there by default and I left it because it’s a nice picture, but you can put any picture you want or replace it with a widget by tapping and holding it. Below the picture are your favorite apps. These will always be on your homescreen, and they’re meant to be the things you use the most. Aviate auto-populated it for me and put nearly all of my most-used apps.

Aviate-Home-LeftSlideOut-1

Tapping on the bar along the top or swiping down will bring down a customizable area that changes depending on your time/location, and we’ll get more into that later. Pressing on the square in the top left or swiping in from the left side will bring out the side menu. Here you can manually switch between your Spaces: Home, Work, Going Somewhere, and Settings. There is a fifth area that is location-dependant, and it is the nearest Foursquare check-in location.

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Swipe to the right, and you’re presented with your Collections, auto-curated groupings of apps based on things like Social, Work, or Music. You can customize these groups as much as you want by manually adding or removing apps. Pressing the gear in the top right will allow you to hide or show all the Collections, but you can’t rename them or create a new collection. You basically just get to toggle which pre-made Collections are visible.

But, hey, without a custom emulator Collection, you could easily fill your entire Finance Collection with game emulators How To Play N64 And GBA Games On Your Android Device How To Play N64 And GBA Games On Your Android Device For many of us, Nintendo 64 and Game Boy Advance games were our childhood. Unfortunately for the fans of Mario, Zelda, and Pokémon, Nintendo has been reluctant to create Android games, unlike Sega, which has... Read More  if you want; no one’s stopping you, you rebel.

Aviate-Collections-1

Swipe another time to the right, and you’ve reached what is essentially your app drawer in alphabetical order. My only complaint here is that the second row of apps in any category starts under the letter instead of under where the first app was. For instance, under my A section, I think that Aviate should fall under AirCalc, not the A. Maybe that’s just me, but I think it would make the job of scrolling through the full list much easier on the eyes. You can also grab the small bar on the far right to scroll quickly through the letters.

Aviate-Foursquare-AppDrawer-1

Above, you can see my fifth Space, Flogsta, and the tips that come from Foursquare. Flogsta is a Foursquare location; I didn’t type anything there. By clicking the “Nearby” button on the left-side pullout menu, I can select which nearby Foursquare location I want to show there if it’s not the one that is auto-selected.

Aviate-Grocery-Store-1

Aviate will then auto-curate some apps for me according to that location. When I’m at the supermarket, ICA, it automatically changes my home screen to fit this. When I swipe down, there is now a spot where my grocery apps would be placed — if I had any. But, as I will explain more later, Aviate does suggest some grocery apps for me to download.

There’s also Check-in, Post, and Camera buttons that integrate with Foursquare. Even though I don’t use Foursquare, I really liked this feature because it served up beautiful pictures of whatever location I was near. The picture at the top is scrollable so that you can see many different photos posted to the Foursquare page for that location. I do wish that I could delete the Check-in, Post, and Camera buttons, though; they can be rearranged like any other widget, but not deleted.

Aviate-Work-Travelling-1

The other two spaces above are Work and Going Somewhere. Going Somewhere, naturally, has Yelp, Navigation, and Places ready to go, along with shortcut buttons for traffic and navigation to my home and office. On the other hand, the Work space brought out my Work Collection, as well as shortcuts for to send an email and create an event.

If I had had any upcoming events, they would’ve been displayed there. My Work Collection appears here just as I have customized it, and just as it appears in my list of Collections that is accessible by swiping to the right. Any changes I make to the Work Collection there are reflected in this pulldown menu.

You can see the faded photo at the bottom because swiping up would bring me back to the home screen. Lots of swiping motions in this launcher.

Aviate-Morning-Night-1

Above, you can see how Aviate changes in the morning and evening. If you swipe down from the home screen or tap the top bar, you reach that page. In the morning, you get email and news apps, whereas in the evening it chose to include Netflix, Kindle, and Torch. These are actually pretty intelligent selections that line up relatively well to what I really use. Of course, these options can be customized even further, but for an automatic selection, not bad.

Customization

Part of what makes this launcher great is that every aspect of it is very tightly woven together, and while it makes for a great experience, it gives you less of an opportunity to customize your device to your liking. For example, this launcher doesn’t support custom icon packs, and you can never delete or rename the Home, Work, or Going Somewhere spaces.

Aviate-Normal-Widgets-1

However, there were more customization options available in Aviate than I originally thought there would be. Widgets can be added to the home screen or to any of the pull-down menus simply by pressing and holding on any of the cards. The ones that are there already can’t be deleted, which could be annoying if you didn’t want the weather or event listings or something. But you can add all the regular kinds of widgets that you could on any other launcher.

Above you can see that I’ve added a cLock widget as well as a Google Play Music widget on my main screen, while I have a YouTube widget in my Home pulldown menu. Each widget appears on its own card that is the width of the screen so that they are kept separate and the app retains its consistent user interface.

As you add more widgets on the home screen, the current ones only get squished more vertically until they aren’t even visible and you can’t fit any more. However, adding widgets to the pulldown menu just causes the pulldown menu to be scrollable, allowing the widgets ample room.

Aviate-Home-Pulldown-1

Also, when you click to add apps to any of the pulldown menus, Aviate gives you suggestions for other apps based on what other Aviate users have in their respective sections. This is a nice feature that I imagine could help you find some useful apps. But, of course, you can add any of your regular apps too.

Aviate-Settings-LightTheme-1

I kept my launcher on the Dark Theme because I feel like it’s a bit easier on the eyes, but if you want the very Google Now-esque Light Theme, the option is there. There’s also a “power save” option that, when activated, turns off Background Sync, WiFi, Bluetooth, and lowers the brightness to its minimum value.

Conclusion

I love Aviate, and it has become my new launcher of choice. It’s simple, practical, intuitive, and I’m a sucker for the Google Now card styling. But that doesn’t mean that there aren’t other great launchers out there; in fact, we’ve got a comparison of five great launchers Transform Your Droid: 5 Launchers To Replace The One That Came With Your Phone Transform Your Droid: 5 Launchers To Replace The One That Came With Your Phone Android launchers are a great way to spice up your home screen with new graphics and new features. For the uninitiated, you should know that your phone already has its own stock launcher, but stock... Read More and a few different launchers Which Android Launcher Should You Use? We Compare The Best! Which Android Launcher Should You Use? We Compare The Best! Given the huge number of launchers available, there's something for everyone. Here are the best app launchers for particular needs, depending on what kind of user you are. Read More for every kind of person. Plus, for a whole new level of simple customization, you should check out Themer MyColorScreen Themer Is An Incredibly Easy and Sophisticated Way To Customize Your Phone MyColorScreen Themer Is An Incredibly Easy and Sophisticated Way To Customize Your Phone A smartphone is a very personal piece of kit -- so why should your phone look just like mine? Read More .

Since Aviate is currently in an invite-only beta, we’ve gotten permission from the developers to give out 100 invites. Just go to the Play Store, download the app, and use the invitation code: MakeUseOf. The first 100 readers to enter the code will get the opportunity to test out Aviate!

What do you think of Aviate? What is your favorite launcher, and why? Let us know in the comments!

  1. asif ehsan
    January 14, 2014 at 8:06 am

    cant wait to have this theme!! can any one send me an invitation please

  2. Gizmoto
    January 2, 2014 at 7:52 am

    I would like to retract my inability to find the settings page. I finally located it in the "spaces" area. Thanks for showing the capability!

    Also I forgot to mention that one of my workarounds to wasting widget realestate is to use elixer widget app. This allowed me to create a 9 button (shortcut, app launch, or toggle) widget that i fit across the whole row.

    Having the favorites, and customized widget should get me to 80% of what I'll use on a daily basis. The pulldown page looks to be the true dynamic space as it seems waiting to suggest new content to me (although I've placed it into work couple times over the last 3 hours, it removes itself from work after a while).

    Looking forward to seeing how it evolves in the next week. It's an adult version Tamagotchi!

  3. Gizmoto
    January 2, 2014 at 7:43 am

    Thanks for the article. I just recently got an invite and playing around with it. I don't notice a settings (for aviate) button using my ATT GS3 (slimrom 4.2.2). The only settings page I can access is from my left permanent samsung button (next to the home button) and it access' the system's settings. The gear icon in collections only gets me to toggle different collections. I would really love to have the dark theme as the lightness doesn't make this as enjoyable in the dark.

    Although it seems to be very cool in concept. I have to add that there is a fair amount of widget and app inclusion into each of my collections, favorites, etc. Maybe I'm anal but I organize my screens with 3 pages and 4 corners, giving me my own "12 collections" (any overflowing apps I want on screen get dumped into one of my 12 folders). This makes most of my operations no more than 2 steps, everything accessible with 3. I find myself flipping and swiping pretty regularly during my infant steps of Aviate. Maybe I'm using it wrong and still need more acclimation but at the moment, I don't see myself adding convenience yet.

    I do NOT like that my smaller widgets take an entire row of real estate. And as other's state, it still seems alarmingly similar to a "google now" home screen. So what if google now has Google-focused interest. We all love their business model and the supported communities that come along with open source ingenuity. I'm a fan of Google until I lose my ability to do what I want with my property. ;-)

  4. Anonymous
    December 17, 2013 at 8:32 pm

    Please send to kapoor.kunal@gmail.com
    Thanks

  5. Will3
    December 10, 2013 at 10:02 pm

    I would really much appreciate an invite. If you have invites left, please send one to wille.sarkala@live.com

  6. Libny
    December 9, 2013 at 6:50 am

    Hi all, installed this app a week back and waiting ..... Can any one send an invitation to libnykattapuram@gmail.com ? Thanks in advance...

  7. tiofan
    December 3, 2013 at 12:05 am

    great launcher app. please sen me invite code. taruna.tiofan11@gmail.com

  8. Anonymous
    November 26, 2013 at 9:11 am

    Cod?

  9. akuardit
    November 26, 2013 at 6:44 am

    will you share the invite code to mailto:akuardit@gmail.com

  10. Brandon Howard
    November 26, 2013 at 4:29 am

    I have invites if anyone needs one.

    • Arun
      December 1, 2013 at 2:10 pm

      hi, can you share an invite with me. i would be greatful to you for that. Thanks

    • Yehia Abdelmohsen
      December 7, 2013 at 12:27 am

      Can you please send one over? Here's my email mryehiaabdelmohsen@gmail.com

    • Ian
      December 8, 2013 at 1:40 pm

      Would love an invite. Could u send to itgalloway1 at gmail

  11. Scott
    November 25, 2013 at 4:34 am

    I would very much appreciate an invite code.

  12. Adam
    November 22, 2013 at 3:30 pm

    Pls send me an invitation code.. waiting eagerly!

  13. Nabil
    November 18, 2013 at 12:03 pm

    Please send me one please ;)

  14. V4ns17
    November 12, 2013 at 3:14 pm

    Hey buddies could some1 send me invite to ? THX!

  15. Michael Whitney
    November 11, 2013 at 12:02 pm

    Does anyone have an invite code?

    mike309saa@gmail.com

  16. Aditya
    November 7, 2013 at 8:09 pm

    Please send me one!

  17. Eric B
    November 7, 2013 at 5:26 pm

    I love Aviate and would use it as my primary homescreen if it let me pick certain default apps and customize it a bit more. Right now the new event button opens google calendar. I use a different app for my calendaring and would prefer it. The button next to it, send email, however lets me pick what I want it to open. Also making widgets that can't be removed is more than an annoyance to me. I will not use it as my default homescreen until this is changed.

    • CS LEE
      December 13, 2013 at 10:48 am

      Please send me an invite code.

      csleew@gmail.com

      Thanks a lot in advance.

  18. Daniel Dombrowski
    November 6, 2013 at 11:56 pm

    Thx

  19. Leo
    November 6, 2013 at 8:39 pm

    Please send me an Aviate invite :)

  20. mike eisner
    November 6, 2013 at 6:17 pm

    i have 5 invites to give feel free to mail me i will send you the code right away mail me at icsmaybach9piece@gmail
    com

  21. Anthony
    November 5, 2013 at 5:52 am

    Would love an invite! aj94.carrasco@gmail.com :)

  22. mike eisner
    November 4, 2013 at 9:58 am

    please send invite to me icsmaybach9piece @gmail.com

  23. Pranav
    November 4, 2013 at 9:54 am

    got three invite left... aviate is great btw!!

  24. mike eisner
    November 4, 2013 at 9:51 am

    please send invite to icsmaybach9piece@gmail.com

  25. SIDDARTH
    November 3, 2013 at 3:45 pm

    Can anyone please send me an Invite to join Aviate. Please send Invite to siddarthpoosarla@gmail.com

  26. Zvony
    November 3, 2013 at 10:41 am

    Please send me an invite, zvone5.zp@gmail.com

  27. Fleur Wright
    November 3, 2013 at 9:40 am

    Invite code, please? wrightfleur@gmail.com

  28. laura
    November 3, 2013 at 1:08 am

    Anyone have an invite code to share? Lauras67@juno.com

  29. Vasil
    November 2, 2013 at 9:19 pm

    Can I get an invite code? vasilvalkov123[at]gmail[dot]com

  30. suliman
    November 2, 2013 at 9:11 pm

    this article made me want this app more , please send me an invite sulimankh95@gmail.com

  31. Yassine
    November 1, 2013 at 10:44 pm

    Please send me an invite ysouilmi@gmail.com

  32. robert
    October 29, 2013 at 11:50 pm

    Please Svend me an invite ????????

  33. Abdul
    October 29, 2013 at 8:24 pm

    Please send me an invite

  34. Shreyas
    October 29, 2013 at 8:03 pm

    I need an invite if any one is kind enough!!! Shrejani@gmail. Com

  35. Jamey Dee
    October 29, 2013 at 3:12 pm

    ::waves arms:: If anyone feels generous, I'd love an invite code! jameydee-at-gmail.com

  36. Dickinson R
    October 29, 2013 at 1:28 pm

    Please invite me! I really appreciate it :)

  37. amit shah
    October 29, 2013 at 6:43 am

    i m desperate to get an invite! plz some1 invite me now

  38. Jeff
    October 28, 2013 at 8:36 pm

    If anyone has an invite, send one my way please.

  39. Steve
    October 28, 2013 at 7:04 pm

    hi man. is there an invite for me? :-)

  40. manpreet
    October 27, 2013 at 1:50 pm

    plz invite me

  41. shankar
    October 27, 2013 at 12:09 pm

    Good Article. Good Apps. To try, please invite

  42. Gabe
    October 27, 2013 at 5:45 am

    Anyone have an invite left?

    • shankar
      October 29, 2013 at 7:46 am

      Good Article. Good Apps. To try, please invite

  43. rockgrenade
    October 27, 2013 at 5:11 am

    bro ,please invite

  44. ksw
    October 27, 2013 at 4:25 am

    pls send an invite to me. Thanks

  45. Steve
    October 27, 2013 at 3:04 am

    any invites to share?
    I'd appreciate it!

  46. Swaminathan V
    October 27, 2013 at 1:45 am

    Anyone to share an invite please?

  47. luis m
    October 26, 2013 at 10:12 pm

    Can anyone send me an invite please

  48. Kristen
    October 26, 2013 at 9:09 pm

    Any invites left? Let me know!
    Thanks a bunch!

  49. Scott B
    October 26, 2013 at 7:30 pm

    looking for invite code?

    • Keri E
      October 28, 2013 at 2:54 am

      Yes, please.

    • Hassan Waris
      October 29, 2013 at 11:23 am

      Yes please

    • Monique L
      October 30, 2013 at 11:54 am

      Would love an invite. Thanks do much!!

    • furqan
      November 6, 2013 at 6:15 pm

      Yes please

  50. paqueo
    October 26, 2013 at 6:50 pm

    oh yeah....

    Thanks in advance

  51. paqueo
    October 26, 2013 at 6:49 pm

    oh darn.

    No invite codes left. Well, would someone be willing to invite a 61 year-old agging rocker that prefers technology to college football?

  52. GuyinVic
    October 26, 2013 at 4:28 pm

    Thanks for the validation code. Downloaded & it works great. Instantly recognized my home area and what's nearby...
    So far so good.... Thanks again

  53. Barrie M
    October 26, 2013 at 2:00 pm

    A wonderfully written article I have been using Aviate for over a week now and I love it.
    Just a quick note for every person who signs up they acquire 5 invites to share out with other people via email. This means that you can still share with each other if the MUO code stops working. I still have one invite left if anyone needs it.

    • Anonymous
      October 26, 2013 at 4:17 pm

      Please send to janko(at)centrum.sk

    • Ryan Efendy
      October 26, 2013 at 8:43 pm

      Invite me please....

      Ryan.siput@gmail.com

    • Kovacs
      November 1, 2013 at 6:53 pm

      Please send me an Aviate code, thanks :)
      I would like to try it.

    • Liam
      November 3, 2013 at 3:28 am

      Please invite me. I will pass it one.
      Liam.w.muller@gmail.com

    • Mehul
      November 3, 2013 at 9:46 am

      please invite me, mehulgawdenxt@gmail.com

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