06-15-2013 08:26 PM
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  1. Bako's Avatar
    I've been experimenting with different home replacements, and although I've found many to add useful functionality and aesthetic bling, it has been a frustrating experience. For one thing, most don't import your existing icons or widgets, so you are compelled to spend a lot of time setting them up, just to discover that they might slow your Droid down considerably when fully outfitted. Also, having multiple home replacements installed seems to cause some errors (aHome, for example, just gave me cascading errors when I tried to use it; had to pull the battery). Note that I'm using a Droid with Android 2.01, and this thread was moved here from the Droid forum.

    So, since we have this nice community here, I thought it might be easier to just ask you guys what you like and don't like about the various home replacements you're using or have used in the past. There was a thread earlier about how home replacements slow the Droid down - obviously that would be a major consideration, and it's the reason I stopped using dxTop - but I'm also interested in the functionality and skinning options provided.

    My experiences so far

    dxTop
    This was the first home replacement I used, and from a functionality standpoint, probably still my overall favorite. But it really does slow things down; when I switched back to the built-in home, I was shocked at how fast it was and what I'd gotten used to using dxTop. I love the 4 home screens shaped like a diamond, so each is always accessible with one swipe, but was disappointed that 4 was the limit, since a big part of home replacements is adding screens. I also liked the added drawer (for running apps) and the customizable dock, though I wish there were a way to have them both accessible simultaneously. Finally, dxTop allows you to use nearly any theme or icon pack, even those made for other home replacements like Open Home. That was nice.

    Home++
    This is the one I'm using now. Doesn't seem to slow things down as much as dxTop did, and lets you have lots more screens. I also like that there's a dock at the bottom, but frustrated it isn't very customizable. Also disappointed it doesn't seem to support themes, but perhaps that's the trade-off for performance.

    PandaHome
    I tried this one briefly, and there seemed to be a lot to like about it - simple theme implementation, side-bar docks that were completely customizable, and lots of screens. But the themes all seemed to be made for children, and the whole app had a very pastel, nursery time quality that wasn't for me [edit: I've since discovered it can also use Open Home themes, so this opens up the possibilities for this free app]. Also, I didn't want to have to fill up 5-7 screens full of apps and widgets to find out if it slowed down considerably. I'd be interested to hear from a regular user of PandaHome regarding performance and theme availability.

    aHome (does not support the Droid)
    Earlier I noted that aHome Mini just crashed on my Droid. I've since looked at aHome and aHome Lite on the market, and neither supports the Droid. They specifically say so. So, no aHome for us, but at least that saves you $4.99!

    Edit: Additional Home Replacement Reviews

    Open Gesture
    This is a unique home replacement built around a gesture engine. It includes many of the typical features found on other home apps, including 5 horizontally arranges home screens (with a nice slider at the bottom you can use to navigate between them) and theme implementation, although I only found a handful of themes in the market, and those I downloaded weren't formatted for the Droid's screen (wallpaper was too short). First, I should say that the documentation is non-existent on the app - it only comes with an ad for the paid version in place of any explanation of its features. I had to go to their website (http://www.hollowire.com/open-gesture/) to figure out what was going on. You click on the lower left of the screen, and then draw a gesture anywhere; it takes a few moments to "analyze" it, and then something launches. Seems like a cool idea, since you can have it launch apps, call specific individuals, or just about anything. But I found the process of sliding to a new screen and just hitting an app icon to be easier and faster than using the gesture engine. Also, sometimes it got my gestures wrong, even though I was never that sloppy. The paid version apparently has added features, but based on the free one, I'm not sure it has enough to beat other home replacements. Screen movement was very smooth, I should note, but the app lacked lots of the options I expect, like control of whether a theme replaces your wallpaper, and there was no place to see what the gestures (pre-programmed or user created) actually did. You just had to remember. So, cool idea that could use a good dose of polish and efficiency.

    Open Home
    This home replacement's most prominent feature is its well developed catalog of themes, and it can also use aHome themes. However, most Open Home themes actually cost money, which I found disappointing, since Open Home itself will set you back a cool $5. For your money, you'll get a well thought out set of options, including my favorite - a mode that artificially maintains the app's memory requirements as though it were always running in the foreground, even when it isn't - this gives better home screen performance at the expense of other apps, but still, it kept things smooth. Other than good skinning, robust setting, and extra home screens, Open Home's biggest feature is a curiously placed, slide-out dock, which (once slid out) can be scrolled horizontally to accommodate custom shortcuts. I found this to be a really strange choice on the developers' part, and was disappointed that skins/themes couldn't relocate the dock to the bottom (or top) of the screen. Sitting squarely 2/3 of the way down, the dock and the search button opposite it, compromise the harmony of the screen's layout, while proving challenging to use while also switching screens, since the dock covers part of the screen when out. So my opinion is that it is a solid replacement, especially for skinning, but which unfortunately doesn't add much functionality, and isn't worth paying $5 for, when there are free and cheaper alternatives that are as good or better.
    01-01-2010 02:47 PM
  2. Cory Streater's Avatar
    I haven't messed around with any home screen replacements, but I love how you've summarized each. Since this topic comes up so often, I'm going to sticky it for now.
    01-01-2010 02:59 PM
  3. gospelsoulsax's Avatar
    I really like the Dxtop Home one..........
    01-01-2010 03:34 PM
  4. Bako's Avatar
    Thanks for the sticky status, 8notime, hopefully more people will chime in. As for dxTop, like I said, I liked it too, but I found orientation changes took forever, and caused widgets to have to somehow restart; this doesn't happen with Home++. If it weren't for slow-downs like that, I'd probably still be using it.
    01-01-2010 03:49 PM
  5. Drybonz's Avatar
    I'm using Home++ mostly because it's fast and for the dock at the bottom. The dock makes much, much better use of that space where the bottom slider tab used to be.
    01-01-2010 04:08 PM
  6. herki's Avatar
    I really like Home++ when I used it, but I didn't like how much it changed, honestly. That means I'm a bit of the wrong market for the home replacement crowd, but I just wanted some more screens and added functionality.

    I thought the dock was pretty cool, but the notification bar at the top disappearing kept throwing me off. It just made the whole experience feel less... complete.
    I'm using Launcher+ right now just to get some extra screens, and I love it even more. I really like how seamless the entire experience is.
    01-01-2010 05:51 PM
  7. korp#IM's Avatar
    Launcher+ is something I like too ... really basic addon just for screens no extras and works well.

    Why can't we just have a built in dock for any screen!
    01-01-2010 07:59 PM
  8. terpitude71's Avatar
    i used dxtop at first, but like many on here, was frustrated by the constant slowdowns i experienced with it. i switched to home++, and have no complaints, save for the fact that i wish the bottom dock was able to be customized.
    01-01-2010 08:02 PM
  9. Bako's Avatar
    Yeah, I'm in the same camp. Also, Home++ doesn't seem to support themes or icon packs, which can be fun. I'm on a quest for the ideal home replacement that adds a lot of functionality while maintaining relatively high performance.

    Speaking of functionality, I've been playing with a new home replacement I found just searching through the marketplace; I'll add it to my original post as well.

    Open Gesture

    This is a unique home replacement built around a gesture engine. It includes many of the typical features found on other home apps, including 5 horizontally arranges home screens (with a nice slider at the bottom you can use to navigate between them) and theme implementation, although I only found a handful of themes in the market, and those I downloaded weren't formatted for the Droid's screen (wallpaper was too short).

    I'm a fan of mouse gestures, but one of the problems I've noticed using gesture-enabled programs on a phone is that you have to do a two-step process to enable them and then execute them (as on the Dolphin Browser). The end result is that it feels like more work than hitting a dock or icon bar. Such is the issue with Open Gesture.

    First, I should say that the documentation is non-existent on the app - it only comes with an ad for the paid version in place of any explanation of its features. I had to go to their website (Open Gesture - Android Desktop Replacement | Hollowire) to figure out what was going on. You click on the lower left of the screen, and then draw a gesture anywhere; it takes a few moments to "analyze" it, and then something launches. Seems like a cool idea, since you can have it launch apps, call specific individuals, or just about anything. But I found the process of sliding to a new screen and just hitting an app icon to be easier and faster than using the gesture engine. Also, sometimes it got my gestures wrong, even though I was never that sloppy.

    The paid version apparently has added features, but based on the free one, I'm not sure it has enough to beat other home replacements. Screen movement was very smooth, I should note, but the app lacked lots of the options I expect, like control of whether a theme replaces your wallpaper, and there was no place to see what the gestures (pre-programmed or user created) actually did. You just had to remember. So, cool idea that could use a good dose of polish and efficiency.
    01-01-2010 10:17 PM
  10. john galt's Avatar
    I used dxtop, panda, and home++, after a bunch of screwing around and setting up and tinkering I got fed up with slowness and glitches.

    I've gone back to the native home with no themes and slimmed down main screen to phone, 4 "messaging" apps, and the weatherbug widget. To the right: 3 folders and a Widget. To the left: browser, map, 2 speed dials, and calendar widget.

    It's REFRESHING time have a simple and clean look with wallpaper showing thru. Make folders. I have:
    - one music apps
    - one for games
    - one for frequently used apps

    It takes just a second to open a folder and keeps the screen clean and pretty.

    Simplify - ditch all of the home replacements that slow you down. Try going back to a very clean and uncluttered look and you'll enjoy the snappiness of the screen refreshes and the uncluttered simplicity.
    01-02-2010 01:05 AM
  11. pbrennan42's Avatar
    I don't mind a little slowing down with a Home Alternative application when it increases the functionality of the desktop and adds a little bling and sparkle to my phone.

    dxTop does it for me.

    Phil.
    01-02-2010 12:04 PM
  12. Bako's Avatar
    Ok, I tried Open Home for a while, and then uninstalled for the refund just in time. It's solid, and I believe may be the most popular home replacement (based on number of skins), but didn't bring enough to the table for me to convert.

    Open Home
    This home replacement's most prominent feature is its well developed catalog of themes, and it can also use aHome themes. However, most Open Home themes actually cost money, which I found disappointing, since Open Home itself will set you back a cool $5. For your money, you'll get a well thought out set of options, including my favorite - a mode that artificially maintains the app's memory requirements as though it were always running in the foreground, even when it isn't - this gives better home screen performance at the expense of other apps, but still, it kept things smooth. Other than good skinning, robust setting, and extra home screens, Open Home's biggest feature is a curiously placed, slide-out dock, which (once slid out) can be scrolled horizontally to accommodate custom shortcuts. I found this to be a really strange choice on the developers' part, and was disappointed that skins/themes couldn't relocate the dock to the bottom (or top) of the screen. Sitting squarely 2/3 of the way down, the dock and the search button opposite it, compromise the harmony of the screen's layout, while proving challenging to use while also switching screens, since the dock covers part of the screen when out. So my opinion is that it is a solid replacement, especially for skinning, but which unfortunately doesn't add much functionality, and isn't worth paying $5 for, when there are free and cheaper alternatives that are as good or better.

    Honestly, I'm going to give PandaHome a second shot. For one thing, it's free, and I discovered it allows you to use Open Home skins, taking care of its sub-par skin catalog. Also, its side docks (which slide out and provide a vertical band of shortcuts) are better thought out than Open Home's, though I do prefer dxTop's simple bottom dock.
    01-02-2010 02:16 PM
  13. Nechasin's Avatar
    I use Pandahome and I haven't had any problems. I have tried all of the above with the exception of OpenGesture. Each has it's own take on things and have pro and cons. I really like the side bars on Panda Home.

    In my researching, I did notice that if I had more than one home replacement installed, things really, really slowed down. So my advice to only have one installed at a time. If you want to try something else, uninstall the one that you are using and install the new one.
    01-02-2010 10:16 PM
  14. Kaizmuth's Avatar
    Tried Home++, but it did slow down my phone ever so slightly. Launcher + is nice, but I only really use 3 screens, so I don't really get anything from it. I do like the shortcut bar from Home++ though. That was nice.

    An app that just did the shortcut bar at the bottom would be very nice.
    01-03-2010 01:02 AM
  15. maggiem's Avatar
    Thanks for posting this. I've been using dxtop but have gotten so frustrated by the lagginess of it. All I really like it for is the category tray and the DOCK! I might try home++ next and see what I think, or like others.. I might just use the built in!
    01-04-2010 01:14 PM
  16. that1bb's Avatar
    One I have used is GDE. I like that one for it's smooth and unique screen transitions and the phone button (on screen) is always available like the HTC Hero. For now I have just gone back to the stock 3 page android home because of its simplicity and speed. I am really looking forward to 2.1.
    01-04-2010 08:42 PM
  17. that1bb's Avatar
    Launcher+ is another one I like. It is based on the standard home screen and is great if you just want more screens.
    01-04-2010 08:45 PM
  18. Bako's Avatar
    I've been increasingly frustrated by all the home replacements, and even the built-in! I get juddering and slow-down whenever I switch to a screen with widgets on it, or even if it's full of icons. I like to have Beautiful Widgets Home or a similar, large clock on the home screen, and it seems like none of them can smoothly render the transition to that, including the built-in home. Honestly, I think Open Home did it best, perhaps because of its persistent mode (though dxTop has that too). But Open Home has the worst of all docks (almost worse than having nothing there, in my opinion, since it trips you up), and costs $5.

    I made a stab at using PandaHome seriously, and outfitted 3 screens full of my standard icons and widgets. I filled half of one side dock as well. Horribly slow - the worst performance I've experienced. Not an option.

    Overall - and this is an issue separate from home replacements - I'm starting to feel the Droid is underpowered. And I thought it was supposed to be overpowered! Having played with friends' iPhones, everything is smooth and clean, never any juddering or laggyness. I love customizing my phone, but if the cost is crappy performance, what's the point?
    01-04-2010 10:33 PM
  19. that1bb's Avatar
    Of all the homescreen programs out there, the stock is the fastest for me. Yes, it has its limitations, but I am finding much joy in the simplicity of it. I only have one icon space to spare, but it runs very fast for me. I have tried dxtop, GDE, and launcher+, but decided just to keep it simple (at least until 2.1 arrives).
    01-08-2010 10:17 PM
  20. dlongb13's Avatar
    I am with the above poster. Tired them all, using home++ and the 2.1 launcher the most and was becoming very annoyed with how slow my phone was getting making me actually like the phone itself less and less. Then about a week ago i went back to the original home setup and have fallen in love with my Droid and its awesomeness all over again. So I too will be waiting for the 2.1 official launch before going back to a replacement home screen.
    01-10-2010 04:43 PM
  21. Roy Aguilera's Avatar
    Launcher ++, Home ++ and stock home are fastest for me.
    01-10-2010 04:49 PM
  22. Bako's Avatar
    I have actually come back to DxTop. It sucks at orientation changes, and sometimes it takes an extra 2 seconds to display the home screen when you back out of an app, but the scrolling between home screens is actually the smoothest I've seen (with the possible exception of Open Home, which has other problems), probably due to them both having 'persistent mode.' I got so sick of juddering screen movement in Home++, PandaHome, and even on the stock home.

    I think DxTop dedicates more resources to running itself, so other apps may suffer, but at least I can get a freaking smooth home screen transition and am not embarrassed to show my phone to iPhone people anymore.
    01-11-2010 01:10 PM
  23. maggiem's Avatar
    I've been using home++ for about a week now and really like it more than DXtop. I dislike that I can't make my own dock, but this one works okay (it has what I need)... the speed of it though for me makes it a top choice.
    01-11-2010 08:06 PM
  24. Roy Aguilera's Avatar
    Home++ custom docks are coming.
    01-11-2010 08:26 PM
  25. mostendorf34's Avatar
    Ive been following this thread and looking at the different homescreen options and just can't bite the bullet, i only got my droid at the end of december and had already heard of the 2.1 release and since it's coming so soon i'm going to wait for that before deciding and experimenting with any home screens... we shall see
    01-18-2010 10:19 PM
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