Chameleon is a launcher that gives you all of the necessary info at the time and place you need it. Instead of the icons and mismatched widgets of current Android tablet home screens, you’ll get a beautiful interface with everything flowing together. You’ll see information at a glance.
How it works is you set up home screens with prerequisites. For example, one home screen (the way I’d design it) would have weather, a Gmail feed, a news feed, and a calendar to see what I have to do. It’d be set to be on from 6 AM to 10 AM, when I start working. At 10 it’d switch mainly to an RSS feed, a Twitter feed for monitoring news, among other things. Then at night, it’d switch to entertainment, having a music widget along with other fun stuff. These home screens will also work with GPS location and will change when detecting specific networks. It sounds like a very useful concept, and if you ever want to go to a different home screen, you can swipe through them manually.
From the video, I have to admit it looks great. It looks refined and sexy. Whether or not it’s functional or even useful will be determined in September, when they plan to release this launcher on the Play Store. I, for one, am pretty excited. It’d add a nice twist to my tablet. Right now it’s a great in-between when my phone is too small and uncomfortable to use for long periods of time, but I don’t want to have my hot laptop out and use a trackpad. However, this would make it into a tool more useful then a computer with a browser open, not just an alternative. It won’t singlehandedly give actual use to tablets over a computer (though I love mine, I am still of the mindset that tablets are useless but very convenient and fun), but if released functional and similar to the demo, it could bring tablets a bit closer to the realm of necessity.
There are a few things that really worry me about this project. First and foremost, they’re asking $50,000 for development. They do explain why they’re asking for such a big sum of money in their FAQ, but it still concerns me. The launcher is seemingly close to completion, and their explanation basically says they’re just testing it, cleaning up bugs, and making it shippable. Asking $50k for beta testing is a little excessive, in my humble opinion. Most developers make an app with no money, and then recoup their costs by selling it. LauncherPro and ADW were made by individuals who didn’t ask for money. They made launchers, then released them for free and made paid versions to recoup costs. Remember SPB Shell 3D launcher? It is a crazy and innovative launcher, just like this is, and they recoup costs by charging for it, not collecting money before.
Also, $50k is a lot for software. The Pebble watch team asked for $100k. This was asked after the watch was designed, prototypes were built, and the entire OS was programmed. They did that just like most people do; planning to recoup costs by selling it. But the collection was to start mass production. That’s understandable, you need a lot of money to produce something. Plus you get a discounted Pebble watch if you fund their Kickstarter. With this, they’re asking $50k to make software, which costs little aside from time. But again, it’s a project that starts off with a loss, just like most businesses. If it is for beta testing, I’d understand asking for $5k (or even more). Then they could spend a thousand on food and stuff, while $4k will go towards around 10 tablets to test on. $50k is in my opinion ridiculous.
So when you funded Kickstarter, and you receive your copy of the launcher, what next? You can’t get updates through Play Store, because there is no gifting supported. The “easiest” method would be to force everyone to buy it and refund their money. It isn’t exactly a well thought out method, and will be a headache to consumers. But that’s the only way to provide updates to people in a simple fashion. A built in update downloader wouldn’t be too appreciated.
Either way, you may as well fund the Kickstarter. While I think they are asking for way too much money, I still very much like the product. And this probably shouldn’t stop you from funding their Kickstarter. So what do you guys think? Do you like this launcher? Would it make your precious Android tablet more useful? Or is it just a gimmick that will be a purchase you will try to refund, then realize it’s been more than 15 minutes, so you cry regretting this purchase and mourning the loss of your $5? Tell us in the comments!