Just hours ago, Nokia let loose its second major volley at Android this year, following the earlier introduction of the Nokia X family: the pre-beta release of the new Z Launcher. On its surface, the replacement Android launcher is a tool for giving users quick access to the apps and people they need most, when they need them, but more than that it’s also a way for the new Nokia (or what’s left of it, following Microsoft eating-up its Devices & Services arm) to show off what it can still bring to the smartphone field.

In our announcement post we covered some of the basic functionality, including the sketch-on-screen letter recognition system that gives the Z Launcher its name, but what’s it actually like to use? Is the launcher as smart as Nokia would like us to believe, knowing what apps we’re likely to use before we even pick up our phone? Is that letter-sketching interface really a convenient way to access apps, and does it work as well as it seems to in Nokia’s promo clips?

And as a “pre-beta” release, just how rough around the edges is Z Launcher right now? Is it something that’s going to hold up to the rigors of installation on your daily driver? We went hands-on with Z Launcher to find out for ourselves – watch on to see what we learned:

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