The Ultimate Android Homescreen

I recently upgraded to a brand new phone, the Samsung Galaxy S2, and let me tell you, her beauty is a thing to behold.

This is my second Android device, my first being an HTC Hero, whom I loved like a little brother. But I love my Galaxy like she’s a sexy robot from the future, trained to be awesome.

Given I’ll be spending the next couple of years with her, it’s important that I maximise all that awesomeness. For me, that boils down to the following areas:

  • She needs to look attractive
  • She needs to let me do my thing
  • She needs to last ’til at least midnight
  • She needs to be constantly surprising
  • She needs to feel like she’s all mine

It’s quite possible to achieve these things from your Android device: it just requires a bit of time to work out your priorities, and sometimes the advice of a few well respected sources. Ultimately, it’s experience that leads to a happy relationship. By the way, yes, I’m still talking about mobile phones.

With all of this in mind, I think I’ve found my ultimate Android setup, the perfect relationship, if you will. So without further ado, I present to you my Ultimate Android Homescreen, a perfectly-tuned combination of sexiness, usefulness, battery life and entertainment.

At just three screens, she’s the most efficient I could conceive of – the product of several hours hard thinking!

  1. The ‘Immediacy’ Screen – stuff you need right now
  2. The ‘Entertainment’ Screen – stuff to feed your head
  3. The ‘Productivity’ Screen – stuff to get shit done

A couple of things glue this all together: Tasker, and LauncherPro. I also advise JuiceDefender, but like all of the apps listed below, it’s not an essential. After all, this is more a ‘what worked for me could work for you’ article (like this one).

(click the graphic to view in fullscreen)

Whether you follow this exact recipe, or you choose to develop your own ultimate Android homescreen, I hope you’ll be very happy together, and I’d love to hear from you in the comments below.

Mobile Sketching App from Autodesk

My new Samsung Galaxy S2 is awesome. Seriously awesome.

Though I have a full blog post detailing my Android setup (composed for immediacy, productivity and entertainment) in the works, I thought I’d share details of one of my favourite apps: Autodesk’s SketchBook Mobile.

With it, and my trusty BoxWave Capacitive Stylus, I’ve turned my handset into a mobile sketchpad. Here are the results:

Me, taken with the front-facing camera
Me, traced via SketchBook Mobile

So it’s pretty effective, right? I’m no Picasso, that’s for sure, but the app is a very handy addition to my mobile armory, and it’s one I’d recommend to anyone with a powerful enough device. Here’s their full product demo:

Oh yes, almost forgot to mention – this whole post, except for formatting and adding links, was completed on my handset itself via the official WordPress app. Suck on that, Apple fanboys!

Everyday Coolness on the App Store

As much as I hate Apple (despite having an iPad… long story) you’ve got to hand it to them that they’ve really nailed their app ecosystem, haven’t they?

But that’s a redundant idea.

Of course they’ve developed a clever app ecosystem: a perfect storm of mutual reward for all stakeholders. Everyone knows that. But the app I’m about to showcase has highlighted, at least to me, that there’s another killer feature of the App Store that I’d not yet considered – it’s cool.
And you know what? Coolness attracts coolness.

For what other reason would Everyday for iPhone exist in the world?
I mean, just look at this fucking hip promo video:

Nice, huh? A simple idea, executed well. And I believe it could only exist because Apple has cornered the market in providing a place for cool apps like this to flourish. You don’t see this sort of shit on an Android (Androidify is probably their coolest though) or on BlackBerry, do you?

And what’s really cool is that Noah Kalina, the guy behind this famous video felt he could enter the market with no prior experience, purely on the perceived strength of his one cool idea. Where one or two interesting product features or a single USP would struggle to attract a buying audience in the real world, on the App Store it’s all that really counts. Apple have democratised the adoption of these cool little tweaks, and have created a playing field for all sorts of single-serving software and one-trick ponies.

Basically I’m saying that because of the App Store, the world has more cool stuff – which is just one more reason to love hate Apple.

Anyone for Tonsil Tennis?

This is pretty cool I guess. The idea is that your partner “helps you” to play a video game by letting you snog them in different ways (while you’re looking at a computer screen and therefore not really paying attention).

It’s a bit gross, but it’s still a novel idea, so have a look:

What’s the mechanic here?

The Kiss Controller interface has two components: a customized headset that functions as a sensor receiver and a magnet that provides sensor input. The user affixes a magnet to his/ her tongue with Fixodent. Magnetic field sensors are attached to the end of the headset and positioned in front of the mouth. As the user moves her tongue, this creates varying magnetic fields that are used to control games.

We demonstrate the Kiss Controller bowling game. One person has a magnet on his/her tongue and the other person wears the headset. While they kiss, the person who has the magnet on his/her tongue, controls the direction and speed of the bowling ball for 20 seconds. The goals of this game are to guide the ball so that it maintains an average position in the center of the alley and to increase the speed of the ball by moving the tongue faster while kissing.

And what’s the point?

I literally do not know. If I were the developers I’d have focused on highlighting their innovative technique to use the tongue as an input device: it’s the most dexterous muscle in the body and it’s use is often one of the few remaining facilities among paralytics.

Can’t this be a remote control for wheelchairs or similar, rather than a Wii Sports ripoff? Come on guys…

More details here: Kiss Controller.