Blog Post

Chameleon: A must-see home screen for Android tablets

Android(s goog) tablet owners may have opted for their device over an iPad(s aapl) due to support for widgets, but a new home screen app called Chameleon is like widgets on steroids. And Chameleon’s developers are using Kickstarter to sell their app before it’s even released: A $5 backing will get you a copy of Chameleon if the project funds hits the $50,000 goal by June 15 (hat tip to Liliputing). After just a day on Kickstarter, Chameleon has already passed $6,700 in funding. After you see the software in action, you’ll understand why.

Instead of simple widgets, Chameleon is a dynamic set of home screens that you can customize on an Android tablet running Honeycomb 3.2 or better. The minimum screen resolution supported is 1280 x 800, so some of the early, small Android tablets may not work. What’s interesting about Chameleon is that its developers understand that users often open up groups of apps repeatedly at different times of the day or in different locations. So the app will change what it displays based on those two attributes, as configured by you.

Given how I use my tablet — and I suspect how many others do as well — Chameleon is brilliant. The first thing I do upon waking is grab a device and hit up the same apps every day for information: Twitter, CNN, email and a few select websites. When I’m working later in the morning at the office (OK, just down the hall) I’m listening to music on Rdio, reading RSS feeds and hitting Facebook. Chameleon could automatically show these apps for me on the tablet at the appropriate time and place. And aside from the smart contextual aspect, the home screens actually look good, which is something most don’t say about Android tablets.

The other intelligent bit here is that development team is looking to Kickstarter for the app. Of course it could build it, submit it to Google and get Chameleon in the app store for the same $5 price tag. By using Kickstarter, however, it guarantees a minimum amount of revenue up front instead of using Google Play and hoping to gain traction in a sea of apps. Clever on both accounts and good enough for my $5 pledge.

8 Responses to “Chameleon: A must-see home screen for Android tablets”

  1. Chameleon is not worth your time or money. What it is is a series of widgets on a a couple of nice looking backgrounds. That’s it in it’s entirety. You have very little control over where you place the widgets (there is a strict grid pattern to use) or how much you can resize them (according to this grid pattern) and when you resize them smaller these widget they lose a lot of info (ie what they display). Only widgets desgined by Chameleon can be used and right now there are only 5 (twitter, gmail, facebook, instagram, and news…with very limited sources), so forget about using any widgets from your favorite apps unless chameleon deigns to create one in the future. These widgets also have limited functionality and you have no control over that limited functionality. Say you want to manually set your location on a weather app, or set your facebook app to update manually or perhaps every two hours instead of one. You are out of luck, it’s chameleons way or the highway. Want an app (not a widget) on your desktop, well you can but only along the bottom edge of the screen and only five. Have multiple gmail accounts and would like notifications for each one better be prepared to have multiple large widgets taking up screen real estate or your out of luck. As for the supposed context wonderfeature, it’s been tried before. Do you really want to have to jump through extra hoops to do something because it is a certain time of day or you are logged on to a certain network, if you like those extra steps then this is for you, if you like everything ready to go at your finger tips when and where you want it then this is best left alone. For crying out loud hitting the home button at the bottom of your screen doesn’t even take you to your homescreen. This home screen replacement has limited functionality, so unless twitter, facebook, and instagram updates are your entire world (and even then there are better widgets included with other apps) this app will not be worth even 15 minutes (the refund window) of your time. If you have broader interests, and need something that you can set up exactly how you want it, to be useful for work and play AVOID THIS HOMESCREEN.

  2. Shane Manning

    This isn’t a kick start, it’s using the perpetual press that comes with successful Kickstarter campaigns to sell a product before it officially launches. The product is already built; they could submit it to the Play Store right now. But for some reason, they intend on submitting it in September, and we can “help” by pledging to the Kickstart campaign in order to receive it now. Basically, help us sell $50,000 of this or else you can’t have it until September.

    This seems like a great product, and likely worth $5, but you can’t kick start something when the motor’s already running. This isn’t providing funds for a concept to help it be made – it’s a finished product, and the makers are choosing to sell it here first because they can set the bar for the level of success they want to achieve “pre-launch”. Best case, they sell $50,000 and can say 10,000 already sold in their app description at launch. Worst case, they don’t meet their $50,000 goal, I GUARANTEE it will be released to the Play Store much earlier than September. Many will recognize the app by the media buzz generated during the Kickstarter campaign and will likely try it, and those who attempted to back the project will just buy it anyway.

    It’s completely a marketing move, and they’re hoping to either make a quick $50,000 before launch or at the very least get enough attention so people will want to buy it when it officially launches. Nothing explicitly wrong with this idea, but I think it’s misusing Kickstarter. What is meant to be a place to reward creativity and help ideas become tangible may soon become nothing more than another online storefront for those who don’t even need funding, just sales revenue.

    • Steve Forde

      I disagree. I think going from a demonstrable prototype to a full-on, robust working product are two complete different things. They have the prototype – and want to finish it, which comes at a considerable cost. From a Kickstarter point of view, this is a natural – they can validate demand from customers, AND generate the capital required to finish it. Well done.

  3. Andreas Ødegård

    Only problem with this is that they’re trying to patent the time/location based homescreen switching…which is a feature that Tasker already has. The problem with the Android world and any other OS is that people don’t think something is possible until they’re hit in the face with a sign that says it is. You’d be amazed how much is possible if you instead consider what you need a device to do, and then find out if it’s possible.