Wednesday, December 29, 2010

[APP] Android Home Screen Alternatives

If you're anything like me then you probaly have gotten tired of your home screen on your Android device.  Especially if you have one of the custom interfaces made by various companies like Samsung's Touchwiz or HTC's Sense home screen interfaces.

Well I tried a few last night and they're are a lot of great alternatives out there.  None of them were just plain bad which is the good news.  The bad news is that each one felt like it was missing that one something that would have made it perfect.
Here is a list of great home screen replacements I have found.

ADW Launcher
Great home launcher that's been around for a while.  If you've seen a custom home then you can more then likely do it with ADW.  The amount of options presented is almost dizzying to the average user or someone who just wants something a little different.  But for those who like tinkering till their hearts content this is definitely the launcher for you.

ADW didn't feel as smooth scrolling or in the app drawer as Launcher PRO but nothing that was a show stopper.  One con that might keep some at bay is the fact to get icon notifications you are required to buy a separate app from ADW called ADW Notifier.  It's less than a dollar but for those counting their pennies or just want everything in one neat little app, this might put you off. 

ADW Lanucher EX
This is ADW Launcher on steroids.  Anderweb, the developer of ADW apps, re-tweaked ADW Launcher for more speed and added lots of visual goodies that will have you swiping back and forth on your home screen for what seems like hours at a time.  Nothing I can say can translate the jaw dropping visuals that ADW Launcher EX gives you.  So here's a video explaining and showing it off for you from the developers YouTube page.

Launcher PRO
Probaly the most professional looking of all the launchers.  Has quiete a few customization options but nothing like ADW.  Scrollable dock, icon notifications and the smooth feel is kind of the staple of this home screen.  You can purchase the upgrade version via PayPal and get HTC Sense style widgets that are gorgeous and professional.

GO Launcher
I have to give GO launcher kudos for being a little bit different from the rest of the players.  After using Launcher PRO and ADW Launcher I felt like with enough fiddling I could get them to look alike no matter what my taste where.

Go Launcher gave me a few options that I didn't see in the others.  One of them being the app drawer has 3 tabs.  The "All" tab, "Recent" tab, and the "Running" tab.  The all tab displays all of your apps.  The recent tab just like it implies shows all of your recently opened apps.  I found this useful.  Long pressing the home buttons only shows 6 apps at a time.  But the recent tab in GO will show much more.  Useful if you switch between apps a lot and don't want to take the time finding it in your app drawer.  Then there's the running tab.  This tab is simply great.  For you Galaxy S owners you might be using the built-in task manager and that works fine.  But the running tab shows more apps that I don't consider system important that were running in the background and allows you to terminate them.  There's more stuff like the iPhone style options.  Long pressing allows you to uninstall or move an icon.  You can also create iPhone style folders where you get a preview of 4 apps that are in that folder.  The semi-transparent background is a nice touch to the app drawer.  Overall a very clean look.

Zeam was the most simplistic and snappy feeling of all the launchers I tried.  You can put all the icons in the dock that you wanted and by default the dock icon size was smaller which made it look cleaner.  I didn't find too many options or eye-candy with this launcher.  This isn't a bad thing though.  It was refreshing to just load the launcher, not spend hours customizing my home screen but still having a very beautiful screen to look at.

This is just my quick impressions of these home screen launchers.  By no means is this a comprehensive review.  So I probably left out quite a few details on them.  If you have another launcher that you feel is worth looking at, leave it in the comments and I'll try it out.

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