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Saturday
Jun232012

Of home screens and launchers

Android, the journey continues. Android in its various flavors has “home screens”. It also has the complete list of Apps, like iOS does. Home screens let one put a subset of apps, and “widgets” on the multiple screens in an arrangement that suits the owner, if the owner knows how to do this; if the owner knows *to* do this.

Enter Windows Phone with its radically different system. A vertically scrolling panel of indeterminate length made up of relatively large square or rectangular blocks, on which you can put apps, hubs and things (don’t ask; I don’t have one, yet, and so I don’t really know), alongside a vertically scrolling, easily searchable list of all the apps on the device.

I have an Android phone – the Razr Maxx – but there’s a home screen replacement called Launcher 7 that emulates, somewhat, the behavior of the Windows Phone launcher. Ever curious, I thought I’d try it out.

OH, one thing: I have a fail safe. I use Folder Organizer, a nifty and very powerful app that allows one to put things into open-able folders. Yes, Android offers this now in Ice Cream Sandwich, and some add-on launchers also offer it. I like FO because:

  1. I can export the configuration and import it on another device, preserving the folder names and contents.
  2. It watches as I download new apps, and asks me to put them into folders, helping me avoid straggler apps.

What I learned from Launcher 7:

  1. It’s not nearly as limiting as one would think, even having become accustomed to the breadth of the Android mechanisms. It would seem expansive compared to what iOS currently offers.
  2. It’s kinda cool looking.
  3. It helps focus on the apps, etc., to which one really needs quick access.
  4. Having Folder Organizer helped me keep some level of organization to the “secondary” apps: the ones to which I don’t need quick access.

I think I’m done with the experiment, though. I’ll go back to the Motorola-provided launcher, which will presumably be changing in the next few days as the Razr line gets upgraded to Ice Cream Sandwich. But, for the record, these are the things I put on the (somewhat limited compared to Android) Launcher 7 screen:

  1. Phone, which on the Razr, also gives access to call history, contacts and Favorite contacts
  2. Text messaging
  3. Calendar, using a widget that shows what the actual date is
  4. Email widgets for each of my two email accounts
  5. Camera
  6. Voicemail
  7. ToMarket shopping list
  8. HDR Camera+
  9. Pictures (like a hub – nice, and internal to Launcher 7)
  10. Play Store
  11. Music
  12. Hootsuite
  13. Calculator
  14. Angry Birds (yeah, so what?)
  15. Browser
  16. B-Folders
  17. Quickoffice
  18. iHeartRadio
  19. Shazam
  20. Fox news (don’t start)
  21. SportsTap
  22. Alarm Clock Plus
  23. StopWatch & Timer
  24. Flashlight widget.

For the rest, I go to FO, or the Apps list.

Ice Cream Sandwich will be nice. Windows Phone 8 will be interesting!

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