Home replacement apps or “Launchers” have become the face of the Android Market. Whenever a new one hits, lets face it, we’re all asking if it’s the next ADW or LauncherPro. Well here it is folks, the launcher that is going to basically give you a brand new phone feel without spending the dough. The awesome folks from SPB finally dropped, you guessed it, SPB Shell 3D for Android today, and can be found on the Android Market for $14.95.
Now, please don’t let the price deter you from trying this app. Let me tell you this. This is the first app, the only app, I would pay over ten dollars for. This is not your typical home replacement. It is a whole rework of what a home replacement can really be. Throw away your knowledge of ADW or LauncherPro, because all those menus and settings and memory tweaks are out the window. So be prepared to learn on the curve. This is nothing like any launcher out there, and setup takes some time. Once you install, give yourself at least 30-45 minutes to figure out all the sweet little tweaks and changes you can make, such as built in clock skins, SPB’s dedicated tiles to Time, Flickr, Calendar, and Weather, and their own customized widgets. That’s right, SPB comes with it’s own widget pack, each can be resized to offer as much or as little detail as you want. (Example, weather can be made to show today’s weather, extended forecast, today’s weather WITH extended forecast, Etc.)
While other launchers were adding pretty transition effects, SPB was creating a beautiful 3D, graphical interface complete with “tiles” instead of home screens, that can be seamlessly swapped to wherever you’d like in your swipe order. The tiles themselves can even be renamed and titled. Simply long press a tile and drop it out if you don’t want it. If you decide you want it back, the tile will be laying there in “edit” mode waiting for you to drop it back in. Long pressing on the home screen allows for all your normal actions such as adding widgets or folders, but it also allows you to add another panel. No more “Menu, Edit, Add screen”. Just long press, add panel, and start customizing. When you long press and drop a widget, it will take you into “edit” mode, which allows for cycling through the different widget options by pressing the green arrow. You can also drop app icons into a little dock that will stay there until you find the screen you want to put it on. Once you find the perfect spot, just drag it from the dock. No more searching through your app drawer multiple times. When your done, hit the checkmark to close editing. Even your app drawer is nice to look at. A nice black background with a blue gradient coming from the bottom gives a nice feel to scrolling through your apps. Along with the look, any app that is already on your home tiles are marked with a little “home” icon, indicating you already have it on your tiles somewhere. Which is a nice little feature when trying to add all the apps you want… I mean come on, how many times have you had to go back and say, “did I already add this?” Little attention to detail like this are putting this home replacement leaps and bounds above all others. Pressing the menu button on the home screen has a shortcut to your “Manage apps”, and hitting menu in the app drawer gives you the option to uninstall an app right from the drawer. I’ll say it again, attention to detail.
Finally, I want to touch on the home slider that can be found on the main dock where the app drawer button generally is found. Clicking this button opens up a 3D interface of all your panels arranged in a circular fashion. You can then swipe through your panels continuously until you find the panel you want. And by continuous, I mean it doesn’t stop at your last tile. It rotates through seamlessly with zero lag. If you stop on a panel that allows it, SPB Shell will scroll through the panel’s contents with slick animations, showing you your messages, calendar or whatever happens to be on that panel. And it doesn’t stop there. If you let it go, it will actually scroll through all the panels itself, doing its fancy animation show along the way. If you don’t want to click the button to find your panel, use it as a slider, to find your desired panel even faster.
I can’t find much downside to this app next to maybe the cost, and the learning curve/setup time. It’s fast, seamless and the most beautiful home replacement I’ve seen on Android in the 2 years I’ve ran the OS. Unfortunately, I can really see the price tag pushing some of the younger, strapped for cash individuals away. This is a shame because everyone should be able to experience this absolutely amazing home replacement app. It truly will give you the feel of a new phone. My hat goes off to the great developers over at SPB for their hard work on this beast of a launcher. This is the home replacement that will feel more fresh and new then what we’ve grown used to.
Category: Tech News
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Married father of two. My wife would say I’m obsessed with Android. She would be right. Grew up in Erie, PA, I’m a lover of all tech in general. Avid gamer primarily on the PS3. Look for more articles and reviews from myself here at Gizmoninja.com.