MICROSOFT HAS REVEALED another step in its plans to invade Android and come out like an alien from John Hurt's stomach.
Hot on the heels of the news yesterday that it will merge calendar app Sunrise into its own Outlook email app, which itself was based on the purchase of popular iOS app Accompli, the Redmond megalomaniacs are out to destroy something else that's beautiful with the arrival of Arrow, the company's first official Android launcher.
The "simple launcher" from Microsoft Garages is currently available on phones, but not larger handsets, and works on the basis of identifying your most used apps and adapting them to be more accessible over time. If this all sounds a bit familiar, it's the same principle as Yahoo-purchased launcher Aviate, now Yahoo Aviate.
Arrow has been designed by the team behind Next, another Android launcher app acquired by Microsoft, alongside Echo Lockscreen. Given the strategy with Outlook/Sunrise, and we suspect at a later date Wunderlist, we'll soon see Arrow become a hybrid of the life-force of both purchases, alongside a lot of iOS 9 interface copying and more than a bit of cribbing from Yahoo.
Having had a play with Arrow this morning, we've got many of the same concerns that we had about Aviate at the time. The idea of 'simplifying' suggests making easier, but by moving apps around your screens all the time you are actually going against muscle memory and habit, which means that you've more than likely made it harder for yourself.
Additionally, there are no animations to speak of which gives the whole thing an incredibly dated feel.
In fact, we're a little surprised at how Arrow Launcher is so basic and flimsy. The strategy seems to have been to make must-have apps for Android in order to entice people into the Microsoft ecosystem. This isn't enticing, it's just a bit of bobbins. Maybe John Hurt will be able to put down the stretch-mark cream after all.
If you want to experience Arrow for yourself, it's a free download from the Play store. µ
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