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Zeam hands on: a lightweight and minimalist Android launcher

Zeam robotIt's always amazed me how phones, with processors that are hundreds of times more powerful than early computers, can lag. You know what I mean: head into your address book and try to find a contact while your phone is still booting up, or loading a website. It's pathetic, really. One solution is to put faster and faster CPUs in phones, but the alternative is to strip out some of the heavier elements and replace them with light-weight, faster alternatives -- like Zeam Launcher.

Zeam switches out your home screen and apps list with minimalistic, snappier replacements. It supports Live Wallpapers, and rather excitingly opens up programmable bindings swipe up, swipe down and double tap. With Zeam, you'll never have to hit the 'home' button -- just swipe down!

Zeam Launcher for Android


Minimalist

Despite the "minimalist" moniker, Zeam is very full-featured. It is minimalist in the sense that icons are smaller, and there's no unnecessary fluff. There's even a full screen mode which removes the status bar (until you hit the Menu hardware button).

Being able to bind actions to gestures allows for a much cleaner interface, too. With Zeam, rather than having a huge 'apps list' button in the middle of the home screen, you just swipe downwards. You can also program what happens when you swipe up, double tap, or hit the Home hardware button. By default, swipe up does nothing, but I was quick to map it to Phone Dialer.


Docking

By default, Zeam gives you three completely blank home screens. Instead of big icons and widgets, you get a dock at the bottom of the screen. If you want to put something in the dock, just swipe down to display your apps, push and hold an icon, then drag it to the dock. The dock can be re-arranged, and you can slide the dock left and right -- basically, you can have as many docked items as you like.

More widget real estate

With the fancy docking tray, it means your home screens can be used solely for widgets! One of the most painful experiences with Android is switching between apps -- you have to minimize your current app, then click to open the app list, and search for the app you want to open. Widgets are a lot more sensible -- just slide between your home screens to check your email or Facebook feed, or to pause Winamp. If you need to open an app, the dock is always just an inch away from your finger; neat!

Double tapping, incidentally, zooms out to show you all of your home screens -- and from there, you can zoom in on one of the screens. Handy if you're the kind of person that uses all seven screens.


Configurable

As always with open-source, non-commercial apps, Zeam is highly configurable. If there's something you don't like, you can change a setting (and if there's something you really don't like, you can always edit the source!) With Zeam, you can have up to seven home screens, and configure each screen to have more rows and columns, allowing you to squeeze in more widgets.

Not only can Zeam be run in full screen mode, but you can also configure it to react to your phone's orientation. Turn your phone on its side, and your dock icons and widgets flip through 90 degrees. Up and down swipes still work, too (you don't have to swipe left to right; phew!)

Ultimately, Zeam seems to be better than default and manufacturer-provided launchers in every way -- so give it a go! You've got nothing to lose, and plenty to gain.

Tags: android, apps, hands-on, home screen, HomeScreen, launcher, minimalist, utilities, zeam, zeam launcher, ZeamLauncher

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