Other than Google’s Nexus devices which ship with the Google Now Launcher, smartphones and tablets from Android device makers ship with their own unique experiences. Each one of these user interfaces has a different launcher.
For Samsung, there’s TouchWiz which has the TouchWiz launcher, for Huawei there is Emotion UI which has the EMUI launcher and so on and so on. While Google has openly made available its launcher on the Play Store, these device manufacturers have not.
That changed a few hours ago when Taiwanese device maker Asus opened up the launcher on its Zen user interface that runs on its ZenFones to all Android devices running Android 4.3 and up by releasing it on the Google Play Store.
The ZenUI launcher boasts of extensive customization options including various free themes and icon packs.
Users can choose between an app drawerless interface and one that has the app drawer.
It also has other features like the ability to choose scroll and transition effects, resize icons, switch styles and many more which are more or less what users of popular third party launchers like Nova, Action, Apex and others will be familiar with.
The most outstanding feature of the ZenUI launcher, however, is the way it automatically groups similar apps together in one folder. This is something I last saw on MIUI 7, Xiaomi’s custom Android overlay. Unlike the MIUI launcher though, ZenUI only automatically grouped Google’s apps like Play Games, Play Music, Play Store, Maps, YouTube and the like. It failed to go a step further and do the same for my huge collection of social apps and games – something the MIUI launcher does perfectly. The ability to trigger some gestures like swiping down to launch Quick Find – to access apps, contacts etc – also comes in handy.
The only annoying things? It’s too colourful and isn’t as Material Design-inclined as the TouchWiz launcher on my Galaxy S7.
You can grab the launcher here.