Trying Nothing's Android launcher: There's not much right now

The beta version of Nothing's Android Launcher is a glimpse into the company's plans for its upcoming Phone (1). A very small glimpse.

Ian Carlos Campbell / Input

Nothing, creator of the Ear (1) wireless earbuds and maybe someday a real smartphone called Phone (1), released the beta version of its future phone launcher today.

It’s a small, truly miniscule glimpse into how the company imagines its first smartphone should look. And it tells me next to nothing about how its phone will actually work.

Widgets and icons — The most notable changes are the new widgets Nothing’s launcher comes with. There are two clocks — one analog, the other, 24-hour digital — and a weather widget that’s drawing its data from AccuWeather.

The widget options are currently very limited.Nothing

Like the widgets Nothing teased when it first announced Phone (1), they feature a sort of old-school dot-matrix design that’s graphical and clearly shares some lineage with the UI Nothing’s design partner Teenage Engineering has previously used on its own products. There’s not much to it, and no additional functionality that I can see.

Nothing’s other major change is to application icons. Besides inserting an easy way to add custom icon packs, the company also allows you to long press on icons and folders and “maximize” them so they’re more visible and easier to get to.

Fonts — The rest of the changes are relegated to the Settings app for now. Nothing’s dot-matrix font appears throughout, along with with some new iconography for selecting the size of app grids.

The font certainly stands out.Nothing

Ringtones and wallpapers — The new launcher also comes with custom ringtones and wallpapers Nothing is making available through a separate Dropbox link. It’s odd they’re not included from the jump, but the options, both audio and visual, are pretty cool so far.

Not enough — The beta version of Nothing’s launcher comes with its fair share of missing features. Notably, the Discover page to the left of the home screen is missing, and the color theming that’s a high-level feature of Android 12 isn’t possible at all.

More than that, Nothing feels like it’s still being too withholding about what it’s planning. The company has a lot of ingredients for an interesting phone, but I still don’t have a great sense of how they’ll combine for the company’s promised summer launch. While neat, this launcher isn’t clearing much up.

The Nothing Launcher beta is available to download now for Galaxy S21, Galaxy S22, Pixel 5, and Pixel 6 phones. OnePlus support is coming at a later date.