Interview: Claystone Inc’s Christian Lassonde talks Claystone Launcher
Christian Lassonde (entrepreneur, software engineer, and veteran of the social media and virtual world industry), Chief Executive Officer of Claystone INC sat down and had a chat with me regarding the Claystone Launcher an elegant 3-D launcher alternative for the Android Operating System due to be updated some time next week. Below he tells me how his team ended up producing the Android launcher and what is in the future for them including a word on tablets and his thoughts on the behemoth that is Ice Cream Sandwich (Android 4.0). These guys are no slouches and you can get more info on Claystone here including bio’s on Mr. Lassonde and Dale Darling the Chief Technology Officer of the Canadian development team. Anyway we really appreciated these guys speaking with us and we hope you guys do as well read on…..
Kidromulous: So What’s up with the new launcher and Claystone INC? How did you guys get started?
Chris: We have a sort of weird startup story. But I guess no different in some respects to other startups. Dale, Our CTO (Dale Darling mentioned in the intro) designed anew multi-view UI over a Christmas holiday about two years ago. (example below) Anyway we tried to pitch to a few folks and never made any real progress that’s when the team met with me and I suggested “Hey Android lets you re-skin the entire UI, this would look great on Android.” And thus Claystone was born about a year ago.
At first we were focused on tablets ,hence the dual view stuff ,but quickly came to realize, there were just not enough Android tablets out there so the phone version and sadly the end of the dual view mode. At the core of everything we are working on is simplicity. Our phones are so damn powerful, yet all we can do is have a home screen with widgets? Forget that! our home screens should show us ANYTHING. Ok done!
Me: With recent numbers that have shown Android Tablets doing a lot better are you guys open to trying this for tablets? A good launcher alternative for tablets would be wildly popular.
Chris: It’s always there as a third priority it seems… but we just can’t seem to find the time to get back to it. So yes we will for sure. I just don’t know when.
Me: The example you showed me is beautiful I like the rounded corners you guys should do tablets too.
Chris: So rounded corners as it turns out take a lot to make work on things like web pages, video, and images… just about anything except home screens, but yeah, we still love that design.
Me: Cool so what are your favorite features of Claystone what makes it stand out to you? Also what has changed, how has the teams image of Claystone evolved since ICS if it has changed at all?
Chris: The feature that really stands out is the ability to open a bunch of content in the launcher. RSS feeds I use daily, web pages, contacts, and you can copy and paste contacts to home panels. Great way to two-click all people. I think the biggest evolution obviously was our transition from 2+ stacks visible (as we call them) to 1 for phone. One of the initial concepts of Claystone was navigate AND view content at the same time. Ok, so you can’t really do that now, but the core concept of it all being their in one app still lives nicely. As for ICS I think its a good step forward. Certainly we are going to use the Application API”s to bring apps into Claystone, but I don’t see it as a huge transition for Android. It will make it easier to get Claystone to tablets.
Me: Well I think the phone gives you more opportunity to showcase the GUI, which is gorgeous. What sorts of things are you guys doing going forward to improve Claystone. Trust me folks who know are looking forward to the update.
Chris: One last thing for ICS. I’m super glad to see it come out and that Google is focusing mostly on the engine that drives Android. We heard loud and clear last week and this week what people wanted. Scrollable widgets (coming next week) I’ve had them on my phone since early this week. It rocks!
Me: Oh I agree on the ICS thing. New features?
Chris: Home button bringing you to a specific home panel (just got that about 2 hours ago) , a bunch of crash fixes, New labels on all the stacks, a bunch of new languages are supported (chinese, swedish, russian, and greek) all submitted by fans! Longer term #1 feature we are working on is the ability to re-organize panels while in stack view.
Me: I was using Clasytone on an EVO 3D and have yet to try it on anything else, I do have an Optimus S, How well does it work on lower powered phones?
Chris: As long as they have hardware acceleration Claystone should run. Funny thing we find the performance of the 3d code is much better on just about every device than the 2d code. (list views for example). Go figure.
Me: Anything else you want to share with us, I would like to know about theming this launcher.
Chris: I guess our biggest surprise was how much people wanted custom Claystone widgets! We figured there were so many widget developers out there, why try to compete. Well we’ll get working on those as well. Themes we would love to make more of. Some feedback on what type of themes people would love to see would be great. After all, the best way to support us, other than spreading the word, is to buy our themes. (we have a few for sale to support development). As well, if there was interest, we want to open up 3rd party theming in the future.
Me: .My team certainly has an interest and i’m certain others will.
Chris: Lastly my biggest complaint for Android is that the interface in general isn’t as easy to use as some of the competitors. Hopefully launchers like Claystone and others can improve that so we crush all those other smartphones out there! i.e. when my wife picks up an android phone and can figure out how to use it without me walking her through it, we will have won!
Me: I think one thing Andriod offers is choice and you guys and other teams give us more choice. Our little Webzine is just celebrating that freedom.
Chris: Exactly !
The new edition of Claystone Launcher should be available this time next week. For more information on Claystone INC and the launcher see their website HERE and our article on the laucher HERE. Again I would like to thank Mr. Lassonde for his time and as always more to come.