Microsoft Takes Aim at Android Market with Arrow Launcher

arrow combo
Microsoft has released a new launcher app for Android phones called Arrow as part of its continuing strategy to embrace cross-platform development and encourage consumers to make use of Microsoft software outside of its own ecosystem.

The Arrow launcher, which went live on the Google Play store yesterday, boasts a similar feel to iOS 9, taking inspiration from Apples recent Spotlight search update by offering a Recent screen to enable users to access apps, files, photos and contacts that are needed quickly.

In addition, Arrow organises your applications based on usage, so those that are launched most frequently appear at the top of the list, and enables you to customise a dock that can be swiped up from the bottom of the screen, similar to the iOS Control Center, with favourite apps and commonly accessed settings like wi-fi and airplane mode.

The only notable integration of Microsoft software is the ability to use wallpapers from Bing, although its possible Microsoft have elected to hold off more cross-promotion of their own products to encourage people to adopt Arrow in the first place.

The app was designed by the Microsoft Garage project, which is an internal R&D team aimed at creating experiments to see which are worthy of further development, so Arrow may well sail past most Android users and be consigned to the heap of previous Microsoft Android projects including lock screen Next and Android Wear search assistant Torque.

However, if the launcher hits the target with enough people, it could be a signal to Microsoft that the time is right to push further into software development for external platforms, and provide the company with a way to promote its apps to a core group of Android users.