I haven’t written about Chameleon launcher since it was on Kickstarter. It looked very good back then, and the concept of having widgets that look like they belong together was very intriguing. I downloaded it when it was released, but thought it to be such a major disappointment that I didn’t bother writing about it. It had very few widgets at the time (and still does), making it rather pointless for most people.
Now, version 1.1 was just released, adding the ability to use native widgets. Unfortunately, this launcher is still so far away from something I would consider using that I don’t think it will ever get there.
The problem with Chameleon Launcher is that the developer seems to be all about design instead of functionality, rather than as an added bonus. The only thing the launcher really does is give you some nice widgets, and the rest of it is garbage. 98% of the options you find in your average launcher are missing, from the ability to change out icons to supporting special shortcuts. The widgets you do have are buggy, resetting their position when you turn the screen, being mushed together if they’re re-sized in certain ways, displaying HTML error pages, and so on. The “innovative context system” that allows the launcher to switch between home screens during the day is not only a poor substitute for a launcher that works with Tasker, it also makes it rather awkward to split your setup across several pages.
Chameleon launcher seems like one of those products that come from a developer with a background in design, not programming. It reminds me of any.DO, another app which looks nice, but functions like a rusted pile of scrap when you actually dig into it. Chameleon launcher looks awesome, but the technical aspect of it is simply horrible. In many ways it would fit better on the iPad, as iPad users wouldn’t go looking for the grid size option in a launcher. If this is as far as the app has gotten since May, I don’t exactly expect miracles any time soon.
With a bit of work, you can replicate the look of Chameleon in any of the major third party launchers, without having to leave normal functionality behind in the process. Considering what Chameleon doesn’t do that free launchers do, the $10 price tag seems at least $8 too high.