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Hands-on with Chameleon: Android tablets get a shot of adrenaline

Dan Graziano
August 14th, 2012 at 9:00 AM

Back in May, we told you about a new home screen replacement app, Chameleon for Android, that aimed to make the home screen on Android tablets gorgeous. At the time, the app was seeking funding through the crowd-funding website Kickstarter. After a few hiccups that required the company to restart the project, Chameleon was able to raise more than $66,000 when funding wrapped up in early July. The project is now in an early beta stage and the company was kind enough to let us give it a whirl.

Chameleon replaces the standard Android home screens and app launcher with a custom layout of widgets and apps that give users access to a wide range of information. In its current form, Chameleon has a rather limited selection of widgets — Gmail, Instagram, Twitter, RSS Reader and Weather — and while they are useful, it is not enough. Thankfully, the company has announced plans to add additional widgets, such as Facebook (FB), a calendar, media player and a clock, in the future.

Another complaint is that users have a limited selection of pre-installed wallpapers, and to make matters worse, they are not able to add their own. It is unclear if this functionality is in the works.

While there are still has some hiccups that need to be ironed out, the Chameleon software is relatively fast, smooth and responsive. Setting up a new home screen can be done with the tap of a button, and adding and resizing widgets is simple.

Users can also setup different screens to display different information based on GPS location, Wi-Fi networks or even the time of day. Unfortunately, on more than one occasion a widget would not update, would display the incorrect information or the program would completely crash.

In its current form, Chameleon is too limited to be used as a daily home screen replacement. The beta does show potential, however, and if the company fulfills its promise of adding more widgets and other functionality, the app could quickly become the best home screen replacement app on Android.

Chameleon will be available on the Google (GOOG) Play Store beginning in mid-September for $9.99.

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