On the Australian Mobile market, ZTE is a relative new-comer, only recently launching their first mobile phone under their own brand name – the ZTE 969. But elsewhere in the world, ZTE is as common in the market as other brands like Huawei. Over the weekend, ZTE has announced a new partnership with Google, which may help them to achieve a little more visibility in the market place the world over.
The announcement is actually centred around the re-launch of a ZTE handset which isn’t actually available in Australia – ZTE Blade Vec 4G. The phone is being re-launched, with a difference — the inclusion of the Google Now Launcher. But it’s not just the ZTE Blade Vec 4G which will be getting the Google Now Launcher.
ZTE has announced that they have ‘worked closely with Google to pre-load Google Now Launcher onto several ZTE devices‘, moving forward the company plans to ‘pre-load Google Now Launcher on all Android 4.4 and above smartphones that have Google Mobile Services and Google Play enabled.
The benefits of the Google Now Launcher, laid out by ZTE, are the ‘Quick and easy access to Google Now’, ‘Free hands with a hotword’ and a ‘Visually appealing UI. These are subjective as to whether you were a fan of the ZTE launcher. Alex found in his review of the ZTE 969, that ZTE had kept a mostly stock Android experience with a few additional touches, so it’s not a massive leap for ZTE to move to the Google Now Launcher.
At the moment, the Google Now Launcher is limited to Nexus and Google Play edition handsets, but this partnership with ZTE could spell a wider move by Google, who has in the past year moved to control Android’s visual appearance, as well as the back end. It’s a bold move, when many see the major advantage of the Android OS as the openness and innovations – for good or bad – that OEMs bring to their skinned versions of Android. Whether it does spread to larger manufacturers is something we’ll have to wait and see.
Would you prefer the Google Now Launcher or your OEM of choices skinned Android launcher on your next phone?