Smartphones optimize

Consider changing your Android UI to Open Home

Jack Wallen says the Open Home interface is far superior to the basic Android UI and the Samsung UI. Here's how to install and use Open Home Full on your Android device.

Every mobile provider offers its take on the Android interface -- there's HTC Sense, Verizon Motoblur, and Samsung's UI -- and each one has pluses and minuses. The good news is that, if you don't like the UI on your Android device, it's quite simple to change.

There are a number of interfaces available in the Android Market, but one that I especially like is Open Home - Full, which will set you back $3.99. This Android UI adds features that I have not found on any other smartphone interface; also, I did not see a hit on my device's performance after installing it. I think Open Home - Full is far superior to the basic Android UI and the Samsung UI, although I don't like it as much as HTC's SenseUI.

Features

  • Hundreds of free skins
  • Hundreds of icon packs
  • Works with all Android phones
  • Complete customization
  • Hides app launchers from home screen
  • Full screen mode
  • Live wallpaper support
  • Allows font/size changes to all widgets (menu/more/font)
  • Instant folder like iPhone
  • Experimental 3D cube
  • App launcher drawers

Installing Open Home - Full

The first step is to go to the Android Market and search for Open Home - Full. You'll see a lot of entries (most of which will be themes, but the correct listing will have the OpenHome - Full icon (Figure A). (Although this screenshot shows it as Purchased, when you go to buy Open Home - Full, the price will be listed.) Figure A

After the download and installation is complete, click your phone's Home button, and a new window will pop up asking which UI you want to use (Figure B). (Tip: Don't set this UI as the default until you make sure everything works well.) Figure B

When the chooser opens, select Open Home, which will launch the Open Home - Full UI.

Using Open Home - Full

Once you are in the Open Home - Full UI, you will see the default setup, which includes the weather app and a clock. The default setup is somewhat like that of the base Android desktop (Figure C); however, there are a number of differences. Figure C

The first and most obvious difference is the inclusion of a drawer. On any of the screens, you will see a small button on the lower right edge (by default that button is a star). If you press and drag that button to the left, the drawer will open to reveal several pre-added launchers (Figure D). Figure D

Even with the drawer open, you can still open the main application drawer from the bottom of the screen.

To add launchers, simply open the main application drawer, find the application you want to add, and press and drag the application launcher from the application drawer to the launcher drawer. Adding launchers can be tricky at first, but once you get the hang of where to drag the launcher, it's easy. You can add as many launchers as you want to the side drawer.

Configuring Open Home - Full

In order to get to the Open Home - Full configuration window, click the phone's Menu button and then click More. From there, you will see a number of new options (Figure E). Click the Open Home Settings to get to the options. Figure E

There are tons of settings to go through, including the experimental Cube Transition to naming each workspace. One of the niftiest options is the Experimental Cube interface. If you've every worked with the Compiz interface, you've seen the Compiz Cube in action. This is somewhat like that without as many bells and whistles. To enable the Experimental Cube interface, check the box for Cube Transition. Now any time you switch from one screen to the next it will be a transparent cube (Figure F). Figure F

The Experimental Cube doesn't add much in terms of functionality, but it is a pretty cool interface.

User rating and recommendation

About

Jack Wallen is an award-winning writer for TechRepublic and Linux.com. He’s an avid promoter of open source and the voice of The Android Expert. For more news about Jack Wallen, visit his website getjackd.net.

9 comments
DanielRP
DanielRP

. . . Very soon you'll discover the cube thing was a pretty trick to show off to your windows buddies, but is actually slower than simply swiping, and probably crashes quite a bit too.

CopierITGuy
CopierITGuy

LauncherPro is amazing! Obviously, Android thinks so, as well. The new Gingerbread UI is a lot like it!

brainbug123
brainbug123

First of all, it's free and open sourced, and that's what it should be about. In terms of functionality, there are differences, but ADW is no less of a beast when it comes to number of options for custimizing. Although, Open HOME (it's not quite OPEN if it's not free and/or open sourced) is a great home replacement, it really doesn't stand out the crowd consisting of LauncherPro, GDE, or any other app of this sort. Just my 2 cents. :)

DanielRP
DanielRP

LauncherPro is a great replacement, lots of good features, including a scrolling launcher which I think is far better than this side draggable thing in open home.

DT2
DT2

I tried to look up all the recommendations here on the Google Market. All I get is literally hundreds of themes with no app to be found. One would think that the actuall application would be listed first!!!

RipVan
RipVan

to check this out and read some of the comments. Looks like it might need some more time, but it is interesting. Some of the people there, like brainbug, also recommened ADW, so I think I'll wait this one out for a while. More choices are always nice. Thanks for the heads up.

brainbug123
brainbug123

Of course, that's why i wrote free AND open sourced. You can't get any better than that. :) The competition has neither of those.

brainbug123
brainbug123

Hi dude, just because you can't find doesn't mean it isn't there. :) Application is called ADW.Launcher and i can confirm that is available on the market, even it the US. Don't know if I am allowed to post links, but you are surely smart guy, and Web guy too as I can see, so, you should definitely look it up. :) No need for panic or ending the sentence with that many exclamation points, Android is all about being chill and cool amongst the other people. :)