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TSF UI looks an awful lot like TAT Home, the lost 3D launcher from The Astonishing Tribe

December 14, 2011 | by Andrew Kameka

Android Apps

tsfui

A few minutes ago while making my rounds on Google+, I came across a video of TSF UI, a new Android home screen launcher with a high-powered 3D UI. The launcher relies heavily on animation, widgets, and flair to draw people into what looks like an interesting concept. It’s also a familiar concept.

A few seconds into the video, I immediately said that it reminded me of something I had seen before from The Astonishing tribe. Another person said the name of the launcher and that led me to this old post I did on TAT Home, a UI concept video that The Astonishing Tribe (TAT) released in February 2010. It was originally expected that TAT Home would show up as an OEM’s replacement launcher or perhaps a paid Market app, but that never materialized, and BlackBerry acquired TAT months later.

So what explains the similarities between the two launchers? While TSF UI has some new concepts, there are striking similarities between it and TAT Home. Too similar for it to merely be a coincidence. Both launchers have corners that launch app drawers, an identical rolodex-like music widget, and slanted cards view when switching between screens. Take a look at the two concept videos below to see what I mean.

There’s clearly been some advancement made in TSF UI’s video, but not enough to make me forget about TAT Home. I wonder if a refugee from TAT may be involved somehow, but TSF is a Chinese company while TAT was Swedish. Either someone from TAT is directly involved or the TSF got its hands on a TAT Home build and have since enhanced the development of the app. Interestingly, TSF (The Special Forces) has a similar mission of releasing its Shell UI launcher through OEM’s rather than a direct to consumer approach.

Regardless of the explanation for the similarities, this is something I’d like to see in person. Certain aspects of the UI seem a little busy and overdone, but it’s definitely impressive. And based on what’s shared on the company’s Chinese-language blog, there are more tweaks made to the music player and other aspects of Android.

Thanks David and Christopher!