Else, the company that tried and failed to change the smartphone world in 2009, has released the Else Splay Launcher to Google Play, so you can get some of that thumb navigation action on your current Android device.
If you've been keeping an eye on smartphones for a while, you might remember the First Else. "There are problems in the market. The First Else solves them," said Amir Kupervas, Else CEO, back in November 2009 when launching the new Linux-based smartphone.
The aim was to change the way we think about phones, but the message we walked away with was that Kupervas thought the First Else would replace your Canon camera, your laptop and everything else. It didn't happen, unsurprisingly.
The most distinctive feature of the First Else - and the only real thing we got to see at the time - was the user interface, which is replicated here in the Splay Launcher. As you'll know, an Android launcher replaces the home environment of your device - the home screens and the apps tray basically.
The Splay Launcher doesn't go as far as the UI on the original First Else, which we're thankful for. We installed the Splay Launcher on the Sony Xperia SP, and really all it gives you is that surface level of interaction, with everything else beneath it as you expect.
Interaction is designed to be governed by one thumb, moving through the expanding splayed menu to present options and take you where you're going.
There are four top-level options: phone, diary, media and apps. Each of these sections gives you access to a selection of other areas - for example, phone breaks open to give you contact, call logs, redial options and so on. Media and apps are pretty self-explanatory, but "diary" is something of an oddball.
Within diary you have access not only to the calendar, but also a host of messaging options. We can see why this is a beta app, as there doesn't appear to be a way to edit the options. For example, email inbox takes you to the email app rather than Gmail and obviously you'd want to be able to edit these things to your exact specifications.
We like the apps option, however, as you can add up to eight app shortcuts, which we filled with messaging and social media apps, the sort of thing to which you want fast access. We can see that, with customisation, the Else Splay Launcher could be a nice clean way to navigate your Android device.
The Else Splay Launcher (beta) is available free in Google Play - download it today to relive those 2009 memories of phones that never were. We still think that the original First Else video was one of the best around, with its gritty underground theme.