Sony’s Developer group has something cooking, and it’s neither a new phone version nor a cool new app. EvolutionUI Launcher is an open-source take on the company’s existing launcher that attempts to gamify, or incentivize, exploring the various elements of a traditional Android onboarding experience to ensure newbies understand the ins and outs of a new device.
The idea is fairly straightforward: new users only get access to a small number of device features until they accomplish a set of tasks. Open a total of five pre-populated apps on the homescreen to enable the app drawer; take five apps from the drawer to the home screen to enable additional windows. Users are awarded virtual achievements each time they level up, exposing more of the interface and new features until the tutorial inevitably completes.
Sony saw this as a way of ensuring the various nuances of an Android phone are not overlooked by first-time users, and while it is unlikely to ever be mandatory in mainstream devices, it could be used in smartphones aimed at the growing senior population, most of whom would be first-time Android users.
The development team behind EvolutionUI envisions four “levels,” Beginner, Easy, Medium and Advanced, with more of the phone’s functionality being rewarded with each level up. Obviously, the idea is more theoretical than anything else — Android isn’t that complicated — but the potential for an improved onboarding experience is real, and since Sony has open-sourced all of the code on GitHub, it’s worth taking a look at.