[APP] Chameleon Launcher Hands On Review

Discussion in 'Android Tablet Apps' started by Frederuco, Aug 7, 2012.

  1. Frederuco

    Frederuco Super Moderator Staff Member

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    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    So, there has been a lot of hype surrounding Chameleon Launcher by Teknision. I have been waiting impatiently for my invite. Tonight I received this:

    [​IMG]

    I quickly registered my Google account so I could get started!

    First, after installing the app I hit the home key to be greeted by a popup to ask my default launcher. I chose Chameleon and set it as default.

    Next, I was greeted by a screen to verify my Google Account linked to the Play Store on my device:
    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    And finally it is GO time!:

    [​IMG]

    It pulls some of what it feels are the more important apps from the app drawer to place in the dock area.

    Long pressing to add widgets yields this screen:
    [​IMG]

    Wallpaper choices (of which I chose the darkest one):
    [​IMG]

    And the current widgets available:
    [​IMG]

    First I chose the weather widget. It displays a grid of 4x4 to layout your widget:
    [​IMG]
    Tap the gear icon to set it up. You can do so by a fixed location, or use geolocating. Also there is a choice for Celsius or Farenheit.

    I added a few widgets to my home screen, not going to bore you with all of the details and ended up with this:

    [​IMG]

    To customize the app drawer, long press an icon and you can drag it to the top of the screen where the widgets are to remove the shortcut, or to the trash can on the right to uninstall it quickly.

    Tapping the 6 squares in the lower right yields the app drawer which has a clean look to it:

    [​IMG]

    Long press and drag an icon to the dock at the bottom, to the trash can on the lower right to make it go away, or the info icon on the lower left to go directly to Settings - Apps - All - <App>:

    [​IMG]

    One item that is a bit weird to me - the Play Store is listed as the first app in an otherwise alphabetized app drawer. Took me a minute to find it the first time.

    [HR][/HR]
    -REVIEW-

    First Glance:
    After getting the launcher set up, and going back to use it, I feel that the widgets tend to run together. There are no bars on the sides of the widgets, only the top and the bottom. Choosing a wallpaper with a gradient from left to right tends to help a bit with the definition between widgets too.

    I notice some lag to the look and feel of the tablet overall, even when using other apps. The stock launcher and Apex Launcher have a snappier feel for a launcher compared to Chameleon on my tablet. Tapping the home key whilst using another app takes 6 seconds to switch to the Chameleon launcher. This could be due to the fact that I am running a Jelly Bean ROM on my TF101, and I have the LCD Density changed so it appears to act like a phone with the clock and notifications at the top. I have the bottom buttons hidden and use GMD Gesture Control to navigate around. I may flash to a more normal ICS ROM and try it with that to see how the look and feel is.

    Also, because this is designed for a tablet UI, the clock and notifications at the top are hidden when the launcher is present. Any other app I can get to my notifications. If I change my UI back to a standard tablet with the status bar and clock at the bottom, this issue will go away. Not sure how the neXus[SUP]7[/SUP] will handle this as it also has the phone-style UI.​

    Use of the widgets:

    Weather Widget - is where I am going to start. It seems that no matter what size I set it to it still needs to scroll. Even a 1x2 looks nice (as shown in my above screenshot) but it still can scroll a bit. Seems like there should be some minor scaling if it can almost fit to make it so it does not scroll. I can understand scrolling if it is tall and vertical and the 5 day forecast is below and the scroll is needed to see all of those days, but all sizes have a little bit of scrolling necessary. After switching my UI back to a normal tablet UI (clock on the bottom) the weather widget in a 2X1 no longer scrolls.

    GMail widget - Shows unread emails in your GMail inbox. It only works with GMail accounts (I assume just for now) but the sadder part for me is that I do not use the GMail app since I found Kaiten. Tapping on the subject of the email does not do anything unless I start using the GMail app. Then tapping on the subject line will open the GMail app for me to see my latest email. It does not go directly to the message I tapped, or highlight it in any fashion. Seems like perhaps this could also link to other email apps that are installed so that I could use my Kaiten email client. I would also hope that an EMail widget is added to allow access to other email services.

    Twitter widget - I configured 3 of these. One for my news feed, and two for searches. One is constantly searching for Olympics and the other for Android. Why? Just to test them out. Seems to find and refresh pretty often, about once a minute. However, the widgets are view only. Tapping on any tweet does not do anything unless it is a mention (@Somebody). This merely opens that persons twitter page (twitter.com/@someone) in a web browser. I installed the official Twitter client to see if that helped, but no dice. For me, a Twitter widget should have some way to directly open a tweet in some app (either the official app or hopefully the app of my choice) and allow me to interact with it. yes, I can use the web browser to find the tweet and interact, but that does not really save me much time other than allowing me to read them and then have to find them again in Twitter, Tweetcaster, Tweet Deck, Seesmic, etc. later and respond to them.

    RSS Feeds - The RSS widgets seem to be the best widgets. I added an Engadget and a CNN widget. It quickly found the feeds when searching for them and loaded them up quickly. I see they are refreshing pretty regularly so I do not have to worry to tap the refresh button (conveniently located at the top of each feed). Tapping on a headline will open in the browser of my choice to read the entire article if I wanted to.

    Instagram - I have not used instagram so I am not going to review this widget.​

    Different Home Screens

    I set up 3 different home screens. For the first one I had set it to use when on my home network. For the second screen it was set to trigger when using my iPhone as a hotspot. Then I set the third one to be triggered on my MiFi device. I turned on my iPhone tethering and killed my home WiFi (after telling my wife the home WiFi would be off for a bit). The home screen did not immediately switch, it only popped up a notification over the dock area to switch to the new profile. Same when switching to off my iPhone tethering and turning on the MiFi, as well as switching back to the home network. I guess I was expecting a more automatic switch, but I can understand the beauty of having the notifications. The thing is, if I do not have my tablet open when a change occurs, I will not see the notification.

    I then set up some time intervals (about 5 minutes in between each switch) between the three to see how it would react. Same idea, notification pops up and you must tap it to switch screens. Other than that it worked great.

    None the less, it is simple enough to swipe between the home screens.

    Also, it should be noted that the dock icons at the bottom of each screen are different for each home screen. This is quite handy if you have a screen for the morning, work and evening as you use different apps more often in one place vs another.​

    My wishlist:

    • Calendar Widget
    • Facebook Widget
    • Widgets that scale nicer
    • Custom Wallpapers (use my own pictures)
    • More built in wallpapers
    • Autoscaling of the weather widget (so scrolling is not necessary) when using a phone style UI
    • EMail widgets
    • Launch a tweet with some app (I will settle for using the stock twitter app)
    • YouTube Widget (show my subscribed videos)
    • Play Music Widget
    • Google+ widget
    • Google Currents integration
    • Additional tabs in the App Drawer to organize apps
    • Remembering your choice for Celsius vs. Fahrenheit across all home screens
    • A way to reply to the twitter widget (even if launching a tweet in an app)

    Final Thoughts:

    For a first draft this is OK. I am hopeful that the team will work hard to continue to improve the speed of the launcher, as well as the diversity of the widgets and wallpapers. For now, it is not quite there for a daily driver for most users. I will use it and see if it grows on me and to help the beta testing stage. It does have a lot of potential, but for now it is just OK even with the coolness factor of being only one of a few thousand lucky users who have gotten their hands on it.

    I will add updates to this first post as I play with it more, and as it gets some updates.​
     
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  2. leeshor

    leeshor Senior Member

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    Nice review, thanks for taking the time and effort.

    It does look pretty good for a beta.
     
  3. Frederuco

    Frederuco Super Moderator Staff Member

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    Chameleon has officially been released.

    I have been quite busy with my real job the past few weeks and only use my tablet for maybe 2 hours a day lately, so not much time to play around with it, but here is an update.

    There have been lots of improvements in Chameleon. First and foremost, there are some memory bugs that have been fixed so it is much faster and more responsive. Still not as fast as stock JB or Apex, but getting better.

    I have not gotten too accustomed to using the widgets because just about every software update resets the launcher back to defaults (no widgets). Mostly, I just have had it blank and then use the app drawer to launch widgets, or I switch back to Apex.

    You can now use any wallpaper (open the wallpaper from a file manager and choose Chameleon Launcher). Next time one goes to wallpapers your custom wallpaper will be there to choose from.

    Widgets are still a bit lacking, but there are quite a few more widgets. Here is what version 1.0.0 has to pick from:

    [​IMG]

    The most interesting one is the one on the right, make your widget. Over at the Chameleon Beta Forums, Jan has come up with a widget that pulls your Google Tasks to display them.

    As far as the in built apps, Facebook seems to need be re-authorized all of the time. But, both of the Facebook and Twitter widgets have better interactive workings. Tapping on the comment button below a facebook post will dump you straight to that post in the Facebook app (if you have it installed) so you can comment on it. You can post a status by tapping the top bar of the twitter widget.

    Somewhere around version 0.8.5 or 0.9.0, it was decided to make the icons larger. IMO, this makes the icons TOO large and my app drawer went from 2 icons shy of 2 screens to almost 3 screens. I have never been a fan of larger icons and text on my tablet. Perhaps on a 7" screen it may be OK, but I have seen some N7 users wanting smaller icons as well.

    Rotating to portrait is not something I do often, and even more so now. Here is a layout in landscape:

    [​IMG]

    And the same layout in portrait mode:

    [​IMG]

    The tall scrolling widgets for my Facebook and Twitter become very short and wide, Facebook moves to a timeline. Also, you cannot scroll above the window (some apps and widgets you can keep scrolling by sliding your finger above the actual widget or area of the scrolling area) so it can be very tedious to scroll and use it in a different orientation.

    The latest version has also restricted the number of home screens to 4. The next release will have more for the 7" tablets, but not likely for the 10" tablets from what I read. I would like to see more, but this is to help with memory usage and limit the number of screens to help with this.

    For a $5 launcher, it is still a bit pricey for what you get (considering Apex is free). Considering it is $10 in the Play Store, I would pass on it for now.
     
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  4. J515OP

    J515OP Super Moderator Staff Member

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    Nice update :)
     
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  5. frapshake

    frapshake Senior Member

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    Thanks for this great review of Chameleon. I will be checking on the progress of it for sure. I also want to give you a big thanks for mentioning Apex. I installed it yesterday just to see how I would like it and so far I love it. It's really easy to use, and it completely stopped the horrible lag when I first try to scroll the widgets in the widget drawer. It is smooth as butter now. I'm using a P6210 (Samsung Galaxy Tab 7.0 Plus) and Apex is perfect for it. I'm so glad I read your post!
     
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