The company's original ZenUI Launcher Asus has appeared on Google Play. Now the owners of almost any smartphones can appreciate the branded shell of the Taiwanese company …
It has recently become fashionable among Taiwanese companies to upload their branded shell launchers on Google Play. And not only for its users, but also for owners of smartphones from other manufacturers. A few weeks ago, closed beta testing of the company's Sense Home 8 HTC began, and about a week ago Asus ZenUI Launcher appeared on Google Play.
What is the reason for companies to do this is not yet very clear. For a long time, branded casings were one of the main distinguishing features of any brand; they were specially tried to make them unique and not similar to analogues from competitors. From the point of view of hardware, smartphones of the same price category could not differ so much from each other, and it was the software that made them unique and not similar to each other.
Perhaps, in this way, companies hope to increase brand awareness, or maybe they are trying to earn something in this way on their own services or advertising. For you and me, this is an opportunity to at least partially appreciate the beauty of a 'foreign' branded shell without buying a new phone.
The launcher has two modes of operation: single-layer, in which all applications are placed on desktops in the style iPhone, and two-layer, with the usual Android application menu. You will be prompted to select a mode when you first start the program, if you wish, you can always change it. The second option is closer to me personally, but this is exclusively a matter of taste.
ZenUI Launcher comes with two desktops by default. On the first, the developers have placed icons for branded services, on the second – shortcuts to Google applications. When flipping through the screens, a nice-looking animation works, circular scrolling is supported.
A vertical swipe from top to bottom brings up the smart search window. For myself, I did not find any use for it, but someone will find this function useful.
Swiping from bottom to top opens the main settings menu, and you can also call it with a long tap on the desktop. Firstly, from here you can go to the list of widgets or change the wallpaper (including adjusting their color), and secondly, customize the appearance and behavior of the launcher in detail: adjust the size of the icons and the grid of the desktop, select the style of folders and a set of icons, change color and font family, adjust status bar ghost, and so on. There are many possibilities, but thanks to the convenient organization of the menu, finding the desired option is not a problem.
Separately, it is worth noting the presence of a branded theme store and the application lock function (CM AppLock), which allows you to set an additional password to launch the selected program.
The application menu is made in the spirit of Android 4.x and completely ignores Google's innovations. Considering that the application menu has become the most controversial innovation Android 6.0, this is not bad.
The menu is divided into two tabs: 'Applications' and 'Widgets', each section has independent circular scrolling. At the top of the screen are icons for search, application display (display all downloaded, custom or frequent), and a settings menu.
The application menu supports all the usual functions: manual sorting of applications, folders, hiding unnecessary icons, setting the screen grid, and so on. Of the interesting features, we can note the smart sort mode, which allows you to automatically split all applications into folders. But he still works so-so.
The launcher left a pleasant impression – it looks good, works smartly, supports all the necessary settings and options. For once, they do not try to force the user to do anything and do not drive them into the framework of other people's ideas about beauty. You can choose a convenient mode (with or without an application menu), choose a grid and size of icons for the screen of your device, choose an eye-pleasing theme and font.
But the developers still clearly have something to strive for. First of all, this concerns localization, which is far from ideal at the moment. Somewhere out of place hyphenations are used, somewhere words are not completely placed in the line allocated for them, and so on. Not to say that it was especially critical, but it hurts the eye.
A separate question is how popular ZenUI Launcher will be among owners of smartphones from other companies. It seems extremely unlikely to me that Asus will be able to attract a solid audience. Compared to the 'clean' Android or pre-installed proprietary shell, ZenUI Launcher may indeed have a number of advantages, but there is nothing really critical or giving a 'wow-effect' among them. For the majority of smartphone owners Android, its appearance on Google Play will go unnoticed, and ZenUI Launcher has nothing to surprise with a more 'advanced' audience, who has already tried a dozen alternatives.