Microsoft's 'Arrow' Android launcher flies into Play store

Redmond wants to own your Android home screen

Microsoft has decided to press ahead with its Garage spare-time-dev-sandpit project, Arrow.

First announced as a beta in July, Arrow is intended to showcase Redmond's newly-found love of other people's platforms (and, perchance, a desire to get its name in front of a wider world than Windows Phone).

Arrow's now ditched the "beta" tag and is available to one and all in Google Play.

The launcher is designed to present apps based on usage, so Android users don't have to sift through the clutter of an OEM's can't-delete-but-don't-use house apps.

There's an iOS Control Center-like dock that means you would swipe from the bottom up to access a setting like Airplane Mode, rather than from the top down as you would in Android. Unlike the Android dock, however, Arrow lets users customise swipe-up so it contains the apps and settings they use most often.

Perhaps to forestall the criticism that it's only interested in taking over the Android home screen so it can pitch its own applications, the only Microsoft integration in Arrow so far is to use Bing to grab a new wallpaper every day.

First look

Is Arrow worth a download? A quick test suggests that Arrow's ability to determine your most-used apps is not potent. Arrow failed to identify my most-used social networking app but did decide apps not used for weeks deserve a spot on the home screen. The "People" page omitted folks I email regularly, preferring to prioritise people I hear from occasionally. The page listing recent changes to the phone was no more useful that the phone's log of recent calls. - Simon Sharwood. ®

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