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The homescreen of the future is here: Aviate Review

AviateSummary: Hate organizing your apps into folders? Hate digging through folders to find the right app? Aviate is a Homescreen that shows you the apps you want, when you want them.

 

A few years back Nokia had a brilliant idea - reorder the icons on my mobile device based on the time of day, showing only the apps I'm likely to need. Last week, Aviate finally delivered on this vision, and more. 

The Concept

2013-10-20 08.17.00Aviate is an Android homescreen that adapts to you. When I wake up it shows me Home - Morning apps such as weather and podcasts. When I go to sleep it shows me Home - Evening apps. When I'm on the go it shows me Going Somewhere apps such as Waze and Google Maps. Aviate even shows me shortcuts such as Traffic and Home that will automatically reroute me or show me directions home when clicked. When I'm at work it shows me work-related live widgets and apps such as my work calendar and work email client. When I'm eating out, Aviate will even automatically load my location and offer shortcuts to post, check-in or take a photo.

In addition to the contextual app recommendations, Aviate provides space for up to ten always available apps. These ten apps will always display on the bottom of my homescreen.

Aviate adjusts to my needs throughout the day. No mess, no fuss, no setup, no headaches, it just works. It's that simple.

Why It Works 

2013-10-20 07.53.42I love that Aviate knows that I like to listen to audiobooks while I fall asleep. And I love that Aviate knows that I listen to podcasts while using Waze on my way to work. These apps are ready and waiting for me when I unlock my phone. It just works.

Until last week, my homescreens were loaded full of carefully organized folders. Loading up my morning commute required multiple clicks in and out of folders while I setup my desired podcast and navigation software (for traffic alerts). With Aviate, my phone already has all of my Going Somewhere apps loaded up for me, just three clicks and I'm ready.

And best of all, my homescreen is now simple and clean.

How Aviate Works

Aviate accomplishes all of the above by (a) sorting my apps into predefined categories, (b) tracking my location at various times of the day and (c) comparing my behavior to others using Aviate. By comparing my behavior and favorite apps, Aviate also makes suggestions as to which apps I want want to add to a particular homescreen.

I'm not particularly worried about Aviate knowing which apps I use when, where I am and when I'm there. I'm happy to trade my location and app data for the convenience of Aviate.

Room for Improvement

Aviate is in beta, so you will need to know someone with Aviate to get an invite. As beta products go, this looks to be an early-mid beta. Aviate crashed on me three times last week, generally when I was trying to customize my suggested apps. I'm sure this is a simple bug that will be fixed shortly.

I would love to see Aviate allow me to create my own modes. For example, as an observant Jew I say a brief prayer after meals and will generally pray at the same times of the day, everyday. I would love to see Aviate offer me the ability to always show my prayerbook app when I'm eating out, or when it's right around prayer times. I'm pretty confident this feature is in the works.

My one other criticism is that Aviate doesn't feel like a Homescreen. The heavily card-based layout is functional, but not beautiful. The persistent app drawer on the bottom does not need it's own bevel because it is not (yet) swappable for another component. A little more work on design could go a long way.

Conclusion

They say a great innovation is one you come to expect. This innovation that raises the bar such that you find an experience lacking when this innovation isn't there.

Aviate is my new Android Homescreen, and I can't imagine life without it.

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