7 Comments

Summary:

Need some extra real estate on your Google Nexus One? A $4 app adds two more Home screens, support for Home in landscape mode and a ton of visual customizations including an experimental 3D cube transition. There’s even a free version to try.

open-home-android

While nosing around the web for some Android research, I came across a piece of software called Open Home. Mashable included it in a top Android application roundup this past weekend, but the software has existed for a while. The application takes the place of your default Android home screen, which is what you see when hitting the dedicated Home button. Technically, the button runs “Launcher” but for all intents and purposes, most people call it Home. The Open Home software adds a bunch of usability features, but I also noticed that it provides me with seven home screens on the Nexus One.

Although Open Home is an $3.99 app, I’d really call it a platform. With it, you can skin or customize your Android interface, add Live Folders, shortcuts and such. And there’s tons of custom skins, fonts, icon packs for sale in the Android Market to enhance it. There’s even an experimental 3D cube interface in the latest version — as you swipe to other home screens, the screen rotates like a cube. I haven’t dropped the $3.99 just yet, but I did install Open Home Lite, which is free. It wasn’t until after installation that I realized the software adds two extra home screens to the Nexus One. I don’t have enough apps and shortcuts to fill up seven screens just yet, but I’m heading in that direction, so the extra space will come in handy. Each of the screens can hold a custom descriptive title as well — check this old but relevant video to see how one user categorized the screens on his HTC Magic.

Aside from the extra home screens, Open Home adds dedicated search on the left and an interesting little slideout drawer on the right side of the screen. Simply tap and swipe the star to pull out the drawer. I’m thinking of placing the most used apps in the little drawer so that they’re available from any of the seven screens. And I don’t even have to give up my Live Wallpapers since Open Home supports them on my handset. Perhaps one of the best features of all — Open Home allows for home screen rotation to landscape mode, something I wish Android would support natively.

I’ll be playing some more with the free, lite version of Open Home, but I’m already inclined to drop the $3.99 — it’s a small price to pay for two extra home screens and customization features.

 

Images courtesy of Better Android Apps

Related research on GigaOM Pro (sub req’d):

Google’s Mobile Strategy: Understanding the Nexus One

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  1. I don’t own anything Android but its sure interesting to watch it develop. Watching Android developer sprint forward reminds of WinMo (WinCE or PocketPC really) back in the wild wild west. Shells, skins, app launchers etc etc…Android devs are covering some of the same ground to answer the same needs for users. An interesting parallel between WinCE/PocketPC/WinMo history and Android…deliver an OS in the mediocre middle and let the devs and the community take it to the next level. Now, the bar for Android’s “middle” is probably starting a little higher and may have more up side. Time will tell but I like the direction and the possibilities.

  2. I’ve been playing with Home++ (beta) on my Droid. It seems a little lighter weight than some of the other options, but still has up to seven screens. It also places an icon bar at the bottom to allow phone/contact/etc access on each screen.

    I don’t know about active wallpaper though.

    http://hpp.intuitit.mobi/

  3. Just remember with Open Home (and any other Home replacement) that you need to keep an eye on battery life. Some of those (DXTop, for example) will chow your battery life like it is candy.

    1. Kevin C. Tofel Carly Tuesday, March 2, 2010

      Good point and one of the reasons I always get excited by these add-ons, but often remove them later. I’d rather have a functional phone at the end of the day than a pretty phone that craps out early. ;)

  4. GDE is more stable and houses much more innovation.

  5. Hey Kevin,
    Wondering if you’ve had a chance to use Slide Screen by Larva Labs? — It’s in a sense similar to MotoBlur, pulling all of your feeds together to the homescreen, however, it does it an errr more elegant manner.

    I’m taking your advice, I think that I’m going to have give Open Home a test run… after all you can never have too many home screens.

  6. You dont have 7 screens, you have 12, because you can access the original N1 5 screens with all their contents after installing OH, and switch between the two launcher applications with a tap on the Home Button. Very very nice. I seldom buy software, but this one is a must-have for someone like me who wants lots of apps organized thematically.

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