Posted by Ian | Posted in Android, Android Apps, General Tech Articles | Posted on 04-08-2011
Its not often I come across an app which stands out among the crowd and when it comes down to the good old launcher I have come across many that claim to talk the talk but never really walk the walk.
For those of you new to Android or simply wondering what a launcher is let me explain. It is a replacement for the standard Android GUI (Graphic User Interface). What that means, to the laymen, is that the GUI is the pink fluffy stuff that we all see when we turn our phones and tablets on. It is how Android presents itself to the user (me and you in this case).
Some launchers add functionality such as being able to resize widgets or scrolling icons across the bottom of the screen which allow you to bring your apps into view more efficiently. Some just make Android look more pleasing to the eye while others give you a million options that let you customize Android almost beyond recognition.
Its fair to say that the general user doesn’t want or need a myriad of options to change the way their device looks but would appreciate a classier looking home screen and with the power of handheld devices these days our phones and tablets can cope with most things. If you are thinking of trying a launcher other than the stock Android one that came with your phone you must decide which one you want and need. Most launchers are 2d and offer a new icon set and different ways of making the GUI more pleasing visually – they, in their most basic form, add bells and whistles to make them appear more presentable and [most] launchers do improve on what you will get, as standard, with your phone/tablet. The difference between the 2d launchers and Shell is in the title its 3D.
Its not 3D for nothing it really does add to your phone in regard to it’s usability. Visually you can do what you want with it as your normal Android settings are just as easy to access as ever. The Shell widgets are exceptional although more would be welcomed. A Facebook and Twitter widget would not go a miss in this day and age but i digress slightly because this doesn’t really matter. The difference between some of the shell widgets and widgets on other launchers is their abiliy to fold and unfold intelligently by tapping the top right corner. All other widgets and icons move out of the way to make room once you have made your selection.
The widgets also have another trick up their sleeve. When you are on the homepage selection carousel. Leave the phone for a second and your widgets come to life by popping out of the miniature home screen and gives you an idea of what they do in some cases.
Overall my favourite Lancher in the past has been Regina but I have now had to re-think what I want from a launcher. Regina is free to download and you can’t quarrell with free and Shell3D does, at the time of writing, cost £10. But and this is a big one. Shell 3D does push your hardware hard. The only penalty for using Shell3D is the additional battery usage but even that is only tiny. We all have to charge our smart phones once a day and using Shell3D does not change this fact. You might get 20/30mins less of battery time in a day with normal usage – I can cope with this – I think most people can.
Another amazing app for Android – this should become a stock launcher. All phones with an 800Mhz processor will be able to run this app with no problems although I would recommend anything above 1Ghz.
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