Over the last few months we have mentioned Chameleon Launcher quite a bit. From seeing the initial rumours on XDA, to seeing some concept drawings, a few leaked videos, the whole Kickstarter funding thing and then the whole “it’s available on the Play Store” thing most recently.
You may remember I had an issue with conflicting email addresses, well that’s sorted. I now have it installed, I’ve had a play and here comes our review.
What is Chameleon Launcher? Well it is a tablet launcher that is meant to be like no other. A launcher is a program that replaces your homescreen with a different ui. Different launchers quite often make a device feel new again. The aim of Chameleon is do something totally unique.
How does it work? You start off with three blank panels (you can add more), each with a different wallpaper, an app drawer and a zoom out button. A quick press and hold on a panel allows you to change the wallpaper, add widgets, add further panels or resize existing widgets. Once set up you can scroll between panels with a horizontal swipe. On my Nexus 7 in portrait orientation you get a grid of 4 high and 2 wide to setup your widgets. On a bigger tablet in landscape orientation you get 4 high and 4 wide which makes it easier to create spaced out widgets. The three panels seem to be pre titled home, work and travel. So you can set each one up to suit the location. You can also set timed profiles where you can make the launcher display the home panel at 7pm and also turn on the wifi. Or you can set the launcher to display the work screen when the gps detects you are at work. It is certainly an interesting feature. Personally I won’t be using that, I’ll set each of the panels up like a normal launcher.
What widgets can I use then? Not many. Once installed you get Gmail, Weather, Instagram, Twitter and News. This is where things start to take a turn for the worse. I decided I would just add my own choice of clock widget, music widget and some folders for my favourite apps. I couldn’t even do this. I was basically limited to five resizeable widgets and that’s it. At this point I quickly jumped back to a different launcher.
The Chameleon website shows a few other widgets like Netflix, Spotify, Facebook, Alarms, Music and a book widget. I am hoping these appear in the next update.
Here are a few shots showing how Chameleon looks on different tablets.
After all of the videos and the fuss surrounding the release I expected a bit more. I guess the main area of development for Teknision has been to make Chameleon Launcher super smooth and stable. Well they certainly succeeded on that front, it certainly doesn’t feel like a beta release. On the widget selection page it does say “more widgets coming soon”. I personally can’t wait for more widgets to come, the initial concept screens showed a music library, gallery type widgets, what looked like a book library. My main hope for Chameleon Launcher is that they open source the widgets.
Why? Because if they do hopefully people will start to create their own widgets and then upload them to the Play Store. This would quickly allow Chameleon to realise it’s potential.
First of all you need to remember that this is a beta test. It has only just been released. It initially was developed for Ice Cream Sandwich on a large tablet and they have quickly had to adapt it for Jelly Bean and the Nexus 7.
Taking these into consideration I think that Chameleon WILL be a great product, but at the moment it is a little lacking. It is currently very smooth and lag free and I haven’t really come across many bugs. The odd freeze now and again and sometimes my Nexus forget what widgets to display.
Hopefully in the next few weeks we will see some more updates to the beta and that when Chameleon comes out of beta and it’s easily available on the Play Store it will be all singing and dancing and will definitely be worth the $10 price tag.
If you really want to have a go at the beta. You will need to pre-order via the Chameleon website and wait for your registration email.
If you haven’t bought it yet I suggest you wait for the general release and see what goodness that brings.
Play Store Link – Chameleon Beta