While Microsoft may have bought up Nokia’s mobile hardware division and dashed our hopes of seeing a full-featured Nokia Android phone (with actual Play support!), there is a small silver lining to be found. What remains of Nokia is now free of Microsoft’s tentacles, and although it won’t be bringing us epic handsets anytime soon, Nokia is more than capable of providing awesome software like HERE Maps.

Today we are seeing the first efforts of the new Microsoft-free Nokia, as the company has announced Z Launcher, a new Android launcher that is clean, simple and surprisingly enjoyable. The launcher is named after one of its key features: the ability to write out letters onto the screen to quickly search for apps, contacts, frequently utilized webpages and more. You can even search the web through this method.

Nokia's Z launcher is clean, simple and surprisingly enjoyable

As for the rest of the interface? Oozing in simplicity, the launcher has a clock and calendar that sits on top, followed by six shortcuts. The six shortcuts are based around things you use the most (or even the people you call/text the most) and will constantly change as Z Launcher learns your habits. The suggested shortcuts will also vary based on the time of day, your location and more. Finally at the bottom you’ll find a phone dialer and a few other static icons, including one that opens up the Z Launcher’s alphabetical app drawer.

For those that like highly customized homescreens, Z Launcher’s lack of folders and widgets will probably turn you off. On the other hand, those that want a clean contextually aware interface could find the Z Launcher to be right up their alley. For privacy hounds, you’ll be glad to know that Nokia keeps all the data private and on the device, at least in the current iteration of this launcher.

those that want a clean contextually aware interface could find the Z Launcher to be right up their alley

Let’s be honest, the Z Launcher’s feature set doesn’t compare to Aviate, Cover or many of the other semi-similar contextual launchers out there. That said, Nokia wasn’t aiming to compete, as the Verge states, the goal instead was to create a simple yet enjoyable launcher experience that can evolve with time as the team refines its feature set.

Based on my brief time with it, I like Z Launcher and as someone who always dreamed of Nokia playing a role in Android, this project has me optimistic for the future — even if I’ll never get that Android-powered Lumia I secretly wanted. Does Z Launcher have what it takes to keep me using it as my default launcher going forward? We’ll see.

If Z Launcher sounds like something you’d want to try, you can try out the “pre-beta” by downloading it directly from Nokia’s Z Launcher website. It is important to note, however, that the launcher has been optimized for the Nexus 5, Galaxy S3/S4/S5, Moto X, HTC One and Xperia Z1. The launcher may work with other devices beyond this, though don’t be surprised if you run into a few glitches.

Andrew Grush
Andrew is one of the three Managing Editors of Android Authority, primarily responsible for the overseeing of US team of writers, in addition to several other projects such as VR Source and more. He loves tech, gaming, his family, and good conversations with like-minded folks.
  • Luka Mlinar

    I don’t care until they make a phone that has at least 1Gb of RAM. Their first try at android was a complete pile of s**t.

    • MasterMuffin


    • Jayfeather787

      Not necessarily boycott. I hate Microballz, but Nokia is just a poor little creature being tortured by Microdick. I don’t know what to do, but this launcher looks like garbage. NOVA FTW!

    • rickm81

      This launcher has nothing to do with Microsoft. In this very post it says “What remains of Nokia is now free of Microsoft’s tentacles”

      • rickm81

        Also, the title of the post is “Free of Microsoft’s grasp, Nokia announces predictive Android launcher”

        • Adude

          Dude the average bod who buys Nokia or Windows phone’s in asda or Tesco wouldn’t have a clue about boycotts etc and would probably struggle to change a flipping light bulb that’s the market windows phone targets

          • Luka Mlinar


      • Luka Mlinar

        I’ll believe that when i see a Snap800 Android based Nokia phone that doesn’t have a WP clone UI.

        • rickm81

          Why will you believe that and not the actual terms of the deal between Microsoft and Nokia?

          Nokia hardware is owned by Microsoft. Nokia software is not. There will not be an Android Nokia phone (at least not for a long time) since Nokia hardware is owned by Microsoft. This launcher is made by Nokia software which, as the article clearly states, has nothing to do with Microsoft. The two divisions no longer have anything to do with one another.

          • Luka Mlinar

            There is a Nokia android phone or 3.

          • rickm81

            Those were made before the Microsoft deal closed. I meant there will not be a Nokia Android phone based on the terms you described.

            I’m not sure what your point is here. You want to boycott a software company that has nothing to do with Microsoft any longer because they once sold a part of their company to Microsoft and until their non-existent hardware division makes the specific Android phone that you’re looking for? Go ahead if that’s how you feel.

          • Luka Mlinar

            Still boycotting Nokia in all forms.
            Take it as you wish.

            BTW I believe it us stupid people who run the market :D

          • rickm81

            I wish you best of luck in boycotting Nokia and, presumably, all other companies that have ever had a working or monetary relationship with Microsoft in any way in their history.

          • Luka Mlinar

            Nope. Just Nokia :)

          • alex0000000001

            Sure but you aren’t reading what’s been said here: you’re boycotting the wrong company! You might as well boycott PepsiCo for all the difference it would make.

        • Guest123

          Nokia is not the division MS purchased. MS purchased Nokia’s smartphone division and Lumia name, and Nokia agreed NOT to make smartphones for something like 5 to 10 years — they can make low end crap only. Therefore, Nokia != Microsoft. Boycotting Nokia because of Microsoft’s underhanded dealing to acquire Nokia’s handset division is just odd.

          • Luka Mlinar

            Don’t get me wrong; both you and @rickm81:disqus are right. I know it’s illogical and childish of me, yet i don’t care. Until i see Nokia get back in the Android game i am pissing on their name where ever they cross my path.

        • Par

          Nokia already has expertise on WP-clone UI, it’s waste of resource to develop different UI from scratch. Just like htc sense or samsung touchwiz, would you throw something you have invested so much on?

          • Luka Mlinar

            What about RIM. Are the willing to destroy themselves because they won’t. I guess so :/

        • Salman Thaw

          I don’t get why Android fans want more Androids… Isn’t having 70% marketshare enough? Why do I read people daydreaming about iPhones with KitKat or Nokias running Google Android? I love Android more than anyone else… but it’s the competition that makes it interesting… I’d rather have Google on their toes, watching their back, competing with iOS/WP rather than crushing the competition and turning Android into the monopolistic mess something like Youtube has become.

          • Luka Mlinar

            Because that’s the only way i would buy a Nokia. Apple can have their what ever, i don’t even like their phone designs. Also i never got the sense that Google did something just because Apple or Microsoft was doing the same thing. So what’s the point of competition when it has no impact on progress.

    • Adude

      Personally I don’t give a monkey’s about the Nokia software if they made a high end android device that was actually any good the first thing I would do is root the sucker and install stock android but so far the only devices are very low end and only sold in developing countries for some odd reason

      • Luka Mlinar

        So true. I would put CM on that bad boy asap. What pisses me off is that i like some of Nokias phones, they still know how to design them. It’s not even all that about the name anymore.
        BTW Motorola has the only custom ROM i wouldn’t change. It’s basically stock but more awesome.

    • Mur

      Why all the hate for MS, they’ve been doing great stuff recently.

      • Luka Mlinar

        Could have fooled me.

  • Shark Bait

    Oohhhh Nokia , why could you have just made me a nice android phone.

    Maybe in 2 years …….

  • Nizam

    For Windows phone? I hope…

  • WestFiasco

    I actually like this launcher, I may download a non beta version in the future

  • Arfan Chatha

    have to be un rooted
    so sad

  • MasterMuffin

    Doesn’t allow you to use it on a rooted device and download link has stopped working (got it from XDA). Well :/

    • lovemuffins

      yeah not working, thanks for letting me know someone has it on xda!
      you are the best!

  • Leroy Jenkins

    this got a real nigga confused and shit

  • Maranello Santiago

    Pretty bogus it doesn’t support my phone because it’s rooted.

  • T.J.

    I want this Nokia to succeed and Microsoft’s “Nokia” to fail horribly.

  • Daryl B

    Not bad. Very clean and seemingly simple to use. Calendar option does not support Pocket Informant- resets the launcher.

  • Asvp Sergio

    Here’s the link


  • Abd

    Why HERE isnt available for android yet?

  • Matt Dowdy

    This is what I get when I try to launch it…..

  • YeOldeRam

    If they made a windows 8.1 launcher for android that was exactly the same as windows 8.1 i’d use it. They would also have to make an icon pack for the play store apps, which means limited use of live tiles :(. I’ve always wanted to have a windows phone with the play store and all of google’s applications. It would be nice if they put in cortana too with a long press of the menu button or something.

  • Kawshik Ahmed

    Nokia just lunch the full Here Maps for Android already because Microsoft didn’t bought it. What taking them so long?

  • TDN

    It appears that the trial has “hit capacity”. If you were looking to get in, unfortunately you will have to wait until Nokia opens it up for more testers.

  • alex0000000001

    ” the company has announced Z Launcher, a new Android launcher that is clean, simple and surprisingly enjoyable. The launcher is named after one of its key features: the ability to write out letters onto the screen to quickly search for apps…”

    Sorry but that does not in any way explain why it’s called Z Launcher!

  • They say no more beta. They say trial hit capacity. Me cry. (weep weep weep)