Monday, 28 October 2013

Aviate: great idea but how useful is it?

I have had the Android flavour-of-the-month app Aviate installed on my Xperia Z1 for nearly 2 weeks now, and I have uninstalled it this evening. 

My G+ stream has been awash with requests for invites for this app, which is currently in beta. It is a replacement launcher, and taps into a new wave of apps which promise to make our lives easier by giving us what we need, when we need it. Except that for them to do that, they need to know where we are, something that is distinctly hit and miss with Aviate.

Let's just get one thing clear: I am not hating on Aviate or its creators. I think the concept is clever, the execution is pretty and the response so far very positive. But this launcher really isn't for everyone. My reasons have nothing to do with this still being in beta testing, they are entirely to do with the utility of this if you live a certain type of life with certain timings.

So why doI think this doesn't work for me? Because I don't live my life rigidly by the "spaces" that Aviate creates.

For example, yes in the mornings I like to check my mail, the news and the weather, but I do all of these mid-afternoon too. Yes, at night I like to read on my Kindle app, but I often do this at lunchtime too. I found myself pretty much ignoring the individual spaces and using only my 10 docked apps on the home screen and then a few more from the collections. I use the vast majority of my apps throughout the day, so I don't have any need to split my day into spaces. 

What about places? If I visit the Tower of London, the app would take me to that space, show me other people's comments (based on FourSquare I believe) and give me options to check in etc. I don't use FourSquare and I think this is an utterly pointless feature.

What Aviate did well was sort out apps into collections and an A-Z screen, but this is not such an amazing feature that it's worthy of any form of fanfare. As part of it being in beta there are several annoying bugs. One example: if I select "do not disturb", then don't just go ahead and put my ringer back on as soon as my alarm is switched off! I'll decide when I want to be disturbed, thank you very much!

Just one point in defence of Aviate: there is so much moaning about it's effect on battery life. I didn't notice this at all on my Z1. Infact, it seemed that the battery was performing better!

I have now gone back to my Sony stock launcher and am enjoying it. Simple, clean...some might say boring. But I can have my apps and my widgets where I want them, and more importantly I can have my kick-ass Sony widgets back.

If you really do use some apps at only certain times of the day or when you are at work but not at home, then spend a bit of time with this and you'll make it work for you. But if you use about 15-20 core apps at all times of the day, wherever you are, this will hinder you, not help you.

Vikas Shah