Let me start out by saying, I don't understand Yahoo!. Never have. Not gonna try. Their business model is a mystery, and I have no clue how they turn a profit. I've never liked them because they bombard users with so much information on EVERY page of their "directory" that I fall into information overload just thinking about it.
However, once in a great while (the last time was the first time I built something with YUI - circa 2008/2009) Yahoo! provides a product or service that kinda blows my mind. Most recently, this has been their home screen replacement for Android, Aviate. When I first saw the video on the Google Play page, I honestly thought to myself, "Yeah, but I have my launcher simplified way down...there's nothing that they can help with." I was wrong. I admit it...it happens once in a while!
So, here's the quick low-down on what's going on here - Aviate replaces your Android phone's home screen and launcher and app drawer, and screw everything you've been doing wrong with your phone since they went from "flip" to "smart". Aviate removes all of the "extra" screens other launchers give you. You don't need them. No, seriously. You have, in essence, three screens and three menus.
Screen 1: The home screen
Simple. You get a background image (isn't mine cute?) and a bar to hold your most frequently accessed apps. Your background disappears the more apps you choose.
Menu 1: Frequent contacts
Swipe up from the home screen, and you'll get a list of your frequent contacts.
Screen 2: Grouped Apps
You'll be asked during the setup to choose at least 5 groups of apps you use on a regular basis. Swiping left will open the Grouped Apps screen, displaying those groups you chose during setup. One of your favorite apps not in there? (tee hee) Continue reading!
Menu 2: A REAL effing app drawer.
(Drops mic dramatically, walks off stage.)
No, but seriously, folks, I know that I didn't think of it, but how long did it take for someone to come up with an app drawer, sorted alphabetically? Oh, yeah, and it's searchable. Like, really, functionally searchable. The only extra I could wish for for this is to be able to provide alternate names for some of my apps. Bank of America insists on calling their app BofA - and let's face it, if I'm searching for that app, I'm going to start by typing bank.
Screen 3: Context Screen
This screen keeps track of time of day and location and offers one of several contexts (called "Spaces" in the app): Today, Moving, Listening, Work, Home, Nearby. This screen blew my mind in the little bit of time I've had the app. I traveled to another town yesterday to get a haircut, and it offered up places I should check out, including a nifty sandwich shop where I got a decent Reuben for lunch. Leaving town, I noticed that it was telling me how long it took to get home from where I was at. This morning, when I woke up, it had 9 news articles (only one of which was actually of interest; I'm sure there's some way to configure it, but haven't played with it that much yet).
Menu 3: Context switcher
Ok...so Aviate calls it the "Spaces menu", but to me, if you're switching from 'Work' to 'Home', you're turning off one part of your brain and turning on another; that's a context. Anyway...want to listen to your music at work - change to the music space. It's just simply awesome.
Conclusions and more info
I don't normally do, like, product endorsements. I think the last time I got excited enough to tell the world about something amazing, it was a new vacuum cleaner. In any case, Aviate, you get 2 thumbs up. If I had an extra thumb on my elbow, you'd get that one too.
Oh...the icon theme I used is called "Moonshine" by Valiant Pixels. I like it because it's flat, but has depth.