Aviate makes Android more about where you are

Every so often, we see a new way to look at mobile operating systems, and this week is one of those times, as we’ve been given a taste of Aviate, a home screen replacement for Android that changes based on where you are.

One of the cooler features about Android is just how customisable it really is.

Don’t like a menu style? Change it. Wish the lock screen resembled iPhone? Do it. Want the entire phone to look like another platform? Easy.

We’ve seen Espier make Android look like an iPhone, Launcher 7 and Launcher 8 emulate the look and feel of Windows Phone 7 and 8 respectively, and even Nova and Apex get around the problem that follows Australians Samsung Galaxy S4 owners by letting you replace the shortcuts in the dock.

All of these are interpretations of how a mobile interface should look, and they all essentially recreate something. Espier remakes iOS, Launcher redoes Windows Phone, and Apex and Nova – as well as countless others – redo Google’s own Android look. Facebook even has its own style.

First I'm home. Then I'm in transit. Finally I get to work. Each of these do something different when I touch the top section.

Aviate is different again.

Currently in alpha and not quite yet ready for primetime, Aviate is a home screen replacement or “launcher” that essentially watches where you’re going and changes based on your life.

The entire home screen is based around three main screens.

The first screen shows you roughly where you are, widgets or photos, and then up to ten of your favourite apps.

At the top of the screen, you’ll find your location will change based on where you are, with other settings such as applications useful in that environment (work or a restaurant), weather, event information from a calendar, and more, and you can force any of these changes by swiping from the left and selecting a place you’re going to (below).

The second screen to the right of the main is your app collections, and these are essentially collections for each of these times and places that you’ll find yourself in.

We mentioned restaurants, so if you find you use Instagram and Yelp often in a restaurant, simply add these shortcuts to this collection and the next time you find yourself in a restaurant, the shortcuts will appear ready for you to use.

The third and final screen is about all of your apps, with an alphabetical menu for all of your apps, just in case it doesn’t fit into a category or isn’t a favourite.

These three screens make the bulk of how Aviate functions, but then there’s all the juicy stuff.

For instance, when you’re at home, as expected a home collection of apps appears.

If it’s morning, it might get switched out with apps for your “morning routine,” with weather information thrown in. If it’s night, however, your apps become what you do at home, with options for switching notifications off.

When you’re out and about, Aviate can tell, and will start to tell you about the places around you, effectively turning into a home screen that always informs you about shops and restaurants in the local vicinity, complete with photos from Instagram and reviews from Yelp.

Already, it’s quite an interesting little home screen replacement, revealing more about where we’re going and offering suggestions, and feeling more useful than Google Now ever really did, probably because Google Now’s card based system always had to be started up, and this is always working in the background.

There’s more work to be made on this, however, and we’d love an easier way to change and re-order widgets, have the photos change based on time, and have a lock screen that reflects what Aviate is actually doing, but already this is one of our favourite launchers yet.

The main home screen will never change size from being one screen high. In fact, the more photos or widgets you add in, the more they collapse in height.

Unfortunately, you can’t just download it from Google’s App Store, as Aviate is technically unreleased (not final code) and still invite only.

That said, it’s worth signing up for an invite, as it’s already done of the more interesting ways to make your Android phone feel more responsive to what you’re doing with your life.

Aviate comes with styles for both light and dark colour choices.