Nova Launcher has always been my go-to recommendation as the essential way to easily customize your Android device’s dashboard or launch screen. It’s hard to find an app that can beat Nova Launcher on functionality and design.

Except Aviate (free) may be the one to do it.

Here’s the caveat before I move any further: the app is currently beta and invite only. I’ve seen a number of screenshots from people displaying their place in the Aviate line. Fortunately, and thanks to the folks at Aviate, I got VIP access with a special invite code.

So what is Aviate?

Aviate promotes itself as the “smart” or “intuitive” Android launcher. The big Aviate feature is the ability to bring an “intelligent homescreen that simplifies your phone and surfaces information at the moment it’s useful.” 

Aviate certainly delivers on that promise.

Simply and improve

Aviate creates three key screens on your Android device where you can arrange apps, access information, and personalize certain behaviors and feels. Aviate automatically organizes your apps into collections, and provides a homescreen experience that “contextually surfaces” the information and apps that you need, precisely when you need them.

Aviate 1


Aviate Home


Aviate Work

Change is never good, and on first test I yearned to go back to the comfort of my Nova screen. Reluctantly, I trudged on.

It’s all about the space and simplicity

Aviate is dependent on spatial relationships. That means, essentially, that your location determines the who, what, and why of your Android homescreen. Thus, by only showing you the information and app you need, when you need them, Aviate helps create a more simplistic device. You’ll struggle to appreciate and understand Aviate’s true potential and function until you’re really immersed in the experience.

The most difficult thing for me was to abandon the traditional notion of the Android homescreen with it’s perfectly arranged scattered icons, compacted folders, and wide assortment of happlessly placed widgets.

Aviate is about minimalism, or at least something similar. The homescreen isn’t static, but rather dynamic in the way it presents relevant information. It’s “functional minimalist,” if there ever was such a design.

Aviate Homescreen

Aviate works to deliver you only the best apps and information, when you need them most. Aviate is intelligent, and can learn how to best organize your apps. Aviate is function and form combined.

But Aviate’s not all lollipops and roses

If you’re a Nova Launcher power user, Aviate will feel clunky, bothersome, and closer to iOS 7 than Android 4.3. Eventually, I missed my Nova gestures that delivered my relevant apps and information. I also missed being able to arrange icons on my screen, which led to stock withdrawals.

Truthfully though, Aviate gives you everything Nova has, without needing to become a tech geek. One of the coolest features is Aviate’s ability to learn your habits and likes or dislikes. This eventually minimizes your efforts in searching or loading an app, since Aviate will make those apps some of your favorites.

If you’re interested in a more in-depth review, check out this lengthier review from Geek Beat TV:

I agree with most of Cali’s review. I really wish you could create your own scenario or collection based on an event or location. I also wish there was a way to decrease the icon sizes, especially when you have some ugly HTC icons.

And the winner is . . .

Overall, I think most people will love Aviate, as opposed to Android’s stock screen or Nova Launcher. The intuitive nature of the app certainly outweighs any minor problems or inconveniences. Of course, since this is a beta version (it’s not fully ready to release), the developers might change or add some features.

Aviate is the first real challenger to Nova Launcher, so I’m giving the app 4 of 5 stars.

Incidentally, I have 5 invites for anyone interested in getting this launcher. You’ll need to send me your email address.

Update: my invites are gone.

Get this app on Google Play


Jeff Taylor

I'm just an ordinary guy living an extraordinary life. I'm also an attorney and I blog about Android for lawyers. You can follow me on Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, or Google+.


Josh · November 6, 2013 at 9:09 am

Thanks for the invite. It is an interesting concept and I really liked it for a couple of days but in the end I went back to Nova. As you said, in the end it really frustrated me with the lack of control and reminded of why I have always had an Android and shunned an iPhone. Now I have three new folders on my phone, morning, work and night that each contain the apps I use most during those times. This idea is what I liked about Aviate but maintains the upside of Nova that I missed.

    Jeffrey Taylor · November 6, 2013 at 12:34 pm

    Josh, you actually did exactly what I did. I really liked the idea of having my regularly-used apps at different times of day or locations, so I just created those folders. I created a work, home, court, and other folder on my home screen.

Tumulto · November 7, 2013 at 4:26 pm

I’ve had Aviate for a while now, I was one of the first to be given a special invite, and like you both, I also came from Nova, and line you both, I’m also going back to Nova.

I gave Aviate a chance, a long chance actually, but they haven’t updated in a while and what did it for me was the fact that I couldn’t even change the icons, let alone customize my Note 3 like only Nova can.

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