Chameleon promises a better homescreen for your Android tablet (Kickstarter)

Daniel Bader

May 31, 2012 12:10 pm

The Android tablet is an interesting conundrum. An OS as versatile and productivity-focused as Google’s with a large screen deserves a homescreen that isn’t devoid of life. Sure, there are scrolling widgets and live wallpapers, but for a surface with so much potential a tablet’s background can be pretty bare.

Chameleon from Teknision promises to do away with that, by making available an array of useful, connected widgets for any Android tablet. The project, which is currently some $8000 away from being funded on Kickstarter with two weeks remaining, is essentially a replacement for your widget framework, allowing you to still choose a static or live wallpaper.

As you can see above, the widgets vary from services like Twitter, Netflix and Facebook, to apps on your device like Music and Feeds. Editing and resizing the widgets is simple, providing for a very quick setup process. Gabor Vida, Teknision’s President, told me that Chameleon was born out of a lack of context in the tablet space; people use their devices at different times for disparate things.

To that end, he envisioned Chameleon to adapt to his surroundings (see what he did there?) by changing the form of the widgets depending on the the time of day, or where you are. For example, when the app ships (and it will be a downloadable app at some point) there will be three contexts: Morning, Work (afternoon), Evening. You can set each one of these to display a specific set of widgets. You may want your various RSS feeds in the morning, plus Twitter and Facebook; at night, your Netflix queue, Twitter and Rdio. The company is preparing specific widgets to fit each roll, but hopes to grow Chameleon with a public API for third-party devs to potentially sell their own specialty widgets directly to customers.

Context also boils down to location: are you connected to a specific WiFi network? If you’re at work and connected to the company’s wireless, Chameleon can be programmed to open up a spreadsheet app, or display a certain email account. The beauty is in the choice; the appeal is in the simplicity.

Vida says that the app is in a usable state, but will be far more functional when it ships later this year. The Kickstarter project was done for two reasons: obviously, to get a certain amount of guaranteed funding, ensuring the app’s immediate future; and to gain it some much-needed publicity. Kickstarter has been a great jumping-off point for projects such as Pebble, and Chameleon is attempting to capture a bit of that momentum, especially since it’s a piece of software.

Chameleon was initially meant to be sold directly to OEMs; a company like Samsung or Toshiba would use it as a homescreen/launcher combo. Teknision shopped the project around to various parties but few showed sufficient interest at the time, so Vida and his Ottawa-based team decided to forge ahead anyway. Because Chameleon is entirely self-funded — there is no VC money to be found, at least for the time being — Kickstarter seemed like the obvious choice.

The app should work on all Android tablets running Android 3.0+ by the time it is released. Vida assured me that, despite its initial 1280×800 screen resolution limitation it will work across all screen sizes and form factors. And while he’d still love to partner with a hardware manufacturer, Chameleon looks like it will be a success in its own right.

If you’re interested in supporting Chameleon hit its $50,000 goal on Kickstarter, head on over to its page. A pledge of $5 will get you the app; more will have you supporting a growing Canadian company.

  • Troy

    I pledged $10 last week, really looking forward to this.

  • Ryan

    I am in for five. Looks cool and would be nice on my JetStream.

  • Rob

    They got $5 from me. This looks awesome. They are Canadian too!

  • M C

    I pledged too; the apps looks great.

    Google should hire them.

  • Azzo

    I pledged long ago, Hope they reach their goal !

  • ns.dev

    Pledged too. Hopefully they will NOT be bought out by someone. Products tend to stay better before they get gobbled up into a large org.

  • PkaTka

    Looks sick. Human creativity has no boundaries

  • GroovyMotion

    Pledged 3$, would love to see the app on android phones and +1 because they are canadians! :)

  • Bill

    I love android and have 2 android phones and an android tablet, however I have two questions that very few people seem to need answered:

    1 – why would I pledge to something I cannot test drive and have a look at. I believe that in the old days, this was called “shareware”.

    2 – why exactly does he need $50,000? Is this so he can quit his day job? By the screenshots, it seems that the home screen launcher has already been developed.

    Again, just playing devils advocate, I just have a really hard time contributing to something that has yet to prove itself.

    • bummy

      R&D and polish costs a lot of money.
      The 50k would go into making a buggy interface into something fully usable and amazing.

      And kickstarter is about investing in an idea. Not to test drive and purchase.

  • Laurent

    Pledged $10, this seems great.

  • stylinred

    looks like the concept Meego tablet UI

  • Zoomus

    Pledge $10 bucks, hey they are Canadian lets give them a hand and stop being cheap support developers

  • Anthony E.

    I don’t see what all the fuss is about. It looks nice, but seems less usable than my current home screen.

  • Shaboobla

    Pledged $10, looks great and love to support Canadian innovation :D

  • Simian

    This reminds me of my much loved by long gone SlideScreen Pro. I’m planning on picking up the Nexus Tablet when it comes out or one of the nicer ASUS models.

  • EddieWinslow

    pledged 5 bucks sometime ago…and I don’t even own a tablet. I just like the idea of this software, so if/when I get a tablet. I have a copy of this software haha.

  • Ryan

    Sounds like someone quit and they are having issues now. Got an email from them saying they’ve lost access to their Amazon Payments Account.

  • Rob

    Chameleopn promises a better homescreen for our tablets…and fails miserablly. Chameleon is not worth your time or money and despite the intention of the creators is NOT deeply customizable. 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.