[Info] Comparison of Android Homescreens

One of the great things about Android is the ability for users to customise their homescreens. This can include not only the number of home screens, but any extras like docking points, fonts, transitions, the app drawer and much more. This can make a huge change to the usability of the phone.

Once again, no rooting is required due to the open nature of Android, anybody can install these homescreens, your preference will vary of course. One thing to note is the scrolling motion, in that a fast launcher will result in your programs and actions being executed quicker, however alot of launchers implement smoother scroller, which can give the illusion of quicker performance. It’s important to distinguish these as a launcher which may not ‘seem’ fast may actually be quicker.

Some basic definitions:

– App Drawer – The tab at the bottom that you drag upwards revealing your installed apps.
– Docking Points – On some launchers, the spaces to the left and right of the app drawer tab can be customised with shortcuts, making the screen more space efficient.
– Notification Bar –  The bar that you drag down from the top that displays current information.
– Launcher – The actual process which controls all of the above. In some instances, people may refer to the App Drawer as the launcher as well.
– Previews – On some launchers, by implementing pinch or zoom or double tapping the home key, it shows mini-previews of all homescreens, allowing you to quick jump or juggle them around.

Conclusion: My pick would have to go to LauncherPro for the dedication to responsiveness and smoothness the developer has taken at the expense of having truckloads of options to play with. He’s got the basics right and the potential is enormous. Also, honorable mention goes to Home++ for focusing on space efficiency on the home screen and making the most of every last square inch. For those who are more into aesthetics, definitely check out aHome. See full details below.

1 ) Standard Android 2.1

The standard Android homescreen is simple, and it’s fairly consistent across devices. It’s simple, it’s quick, the scrolling isn’t particularly smooth but it does the job. On Snapdragon vanilla devices like the Nexus one, the number of homescreens extends to 5 and there is a 3D launcher effect. Live wallpapers are also supported.

No. of Screens – 3 to 5
Launcher – 2D/3D
Docking Points – 0
Previews – No
Memory Usage – 19MB (Default loadout)


2 ) HelixLauncher 1.3

No. of Screens – 2 to 7
Launcher – 2D
Docking Points – 4
Previews – Yes
Memory Usage – 31MB
Notes – Slight laggy, reasonable list of features. Version 2 was unstable.

HelixLauncher for Android on AppBrain

3 ) GDE

No. of Screens – 2 to 7
Launcher – 2D
Docking Points – 0
Previews – No
Memory Usage – 34MB
Notes – Customisable transitions between homescreens, customisable application popup menus.

4 ) Open Home

No. of Screens – 3 to 7
Launcher – 2D
Docking Points – 3
Previews – No
Memory Usage – 38MB
Notes – Small icons between rows 3 and 4 to fit two more quick drawers in there. Customisable transitions between home screens, customisable fonts and skins.

5 ) Home++
No. of Screens – 2 to 7 
Launcher – 2D
Docking Points – 0
Previews – Yes
Memory Usage – 29MB
Notes – Customisable ‘Power Strip’ at bottom of screen, using small icons, very space efficient.

 

6 ) dxTop

No. of Screen – 4 to 5
Launcher – 2D
Docking Points – 0
Previews – No
Memory Usage – 30MB
Notes – Uses a diamond shape pattern to allow one swipe access to any of the 4 homescreens, customisable transitions.

7 ) LauncherPro
No. of Screens – 3 to 7
Launcher – 3D
Docking Points – 4 (Preset apps)
Previews – No
Memory Usage – 32MB
Notes – Extremely smooth and quick scrolling, drawer remembers your position, optimised for responsiveness. Had occasional lag resuming from sleep from me, but otherwise very solid. Lots of potential.

8 ) aHome

No. of Screens – 1 to 10
Launcher – 2D
Docking Points – 4
Previews – No
Memory Usage – 38MB
Notes – Extremely customisable, fonts, drawer fonts, shortcuts can be renamed and icons changed, transparencies, side mini-drawers. Smooth scrolling, but higher memory usage.

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