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What's the point of a Home Screen??

Discussion in 'Android Lounge' started by polstein, Jul 20, 2011.

  1. polstein

    polstein Member
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    This may seem kind of strange, but something that has been confusing me a lot with Android lately: What is the point of a home screen?

    I follow several threads with some real nice screen grabs of launchers with nice wallpapers, clocks, weather, shortcuts, etc. I've got a good collection of wallpapers and I love finding out about new widgets.

    BUT - from a *functional* standpoint, I must be missing something.

    Day/Date/Time/Weather/Battery - all can be seen from the notification bar if you'd like. Yes, the home screen ones will look much better. But are people really going to their home screens to admire their clock widget, or just glancing at the time on the notification bar?

    Shortcuts to launch apps can be done via Swipepad or similar (Smart Taskbar, Clutchpad). I find the generic App draw totally useless. Overall, to me, shortcuts on the home screen feels like the Windows equivalent of minimizing all your apps to click a desktop shortcut every time you want to launch a new app.

    Many other good widgets are there for say Agendas, Tasks, Calendars, Twitter, Music Player controls - but I usually would rather just launch the full app instead of a stripped down widget.

    Now some advantages that I can see for home screens/widgets: Having different things "open" at the same time (example: Having a 4x3 photo widget that rotates every 5 minutes with a 4x1 Music control so you can see both at the same time).

    I can also see a small case for having a series of widgets on a different screen so you could easily slide from screen 1/4x4 Twitter widget to screen 2/4x4 Facebook, screen 3/4x4 music widget - and just constantly sliding back & forth instead of holding down the home button & switching back & forth between apps.

    ---

    Just for reference, my current setup has the Calendar in Notification Bar app linked to an app called Organized Drawer. This lets me get to all my apps in a simple fashion. To get to my top apps, I currently use SwipePad - so I never have to go my home screen to launch apps.

    I have 3 home screens. Center is Weather, Battery, Time, Date, Contact widget. Left screen is a 4x4 Agenda. Right screen is two Task widgets (one work, one home).

    Overall, I rarely go there at all.

    I also use Widget Locker. Keeping in mind that every time most people turn their phones on they see their lock screen, so in this case I can see making pretty screens with all the stuff I mentioned above (and shortcuts to common apps).

    ---

    Anyway, not knocking the system, but is it me, or does everyone rarely actually use their home screen in real-life day to day usage?? Am I missing the boat here?
     

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  2. dan330

    dan330 Android Expert
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    android is about customization and making it the way you want.

    you dont see a need in the homescreen. that is great for you and you have found apps that help you do that.

    others want different things...

    homescreens help most to organize the apps and widgets and look ... of their phone.. to the way they want it.

    i have 5 homescreens... and use each for a particular need... one just for entertainment.. etc... etc...

    without the homescreen.. we would all look the same... example: iphone.
     
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  3. polstein

    polstein Member
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    Agreed there (actually was going to put that in the op as well). To rephrase, what widgets do you use on your different screens and is it more useful to have them over just going to the full blown app.

    (am I overlooking ways to make the home screens work better for me)
     
  4. dan330

    dan330 Android Expert
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    my favorite widget is: elixir
    this is a very powerful free app. take some time to learn all the different ways it can help.

    imo...yes... you are over thinking it.

    the app drawer has all your apps in big long list.

    homescreen just lets you orgainze it. and widgets to help you see info you want quickly.
    EX: folder of all my games ...and folder of my daughters games.
    EX: calender widget so I can see at a glance what's coming up.
     
  5. jroc

    jroc Android Expert
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    I put some of my most used apps on different home screens. Although I can use my app drawer now since the GB update for the Droid X1 has app drawer categories. There are 3rd party launchers that have categories too but I didnt like em too much overall.

    I use my home screens for most used apps and widgets. And I just like working with, using Beautiful Widgets. And I have certain apps on certain homescreens. Games all on 1 if I can, media player and related apps all on one, etc. I guess I could just use folders...I'm using my home screens as folders...lol

    I also use Widget Locker and have PowerAMP widget and FM radio on there. Might stick Beautiful Widgets on there too now that I think about it...

    Example of a widget being more useful than using the full blown app:

    Certain flashlight apps. You just click on the widget and it turns the flashlight on and off. Cuts down on at least 1 step in some cases. And no need to exit the app when finished, just click it to turn it off.

    Music player widgets. All I really need to do is start, stop music, skips tracks, folders most of the time.
     
  6. Stuntman

    Stuntman Android Expert
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    On my centre home screen, I have the following widgets:

    • Auto-rotate -- This widget toggles auto-rotate. When I am lying down, I don't want the screen to rotate. This allows me to easily toggle it on and off.
    • Sound Profile -- With a single press, I can turn off notification sounds. This is useful for when I go to sleep. I don't need to be awaken by email or Facebook notifications. Then when I wake up, I turn the sounds back on with a single touch.
    • Brightness Widget -- Auto-brightness sucks because it's always too bright. With a single touch, I toggle between 9% (darkness), 30% (indoors) and 100% (outdoors) brightness levels.
    • Weather -- I like to know the current conditions and outside temperature without having to launch an app.

    On my other home screens, I have the following widgets:

    • The Score -- Sports scores. I can quickly check out scores quickly by cycling through all of the games of the day. If I want detailed scoring summaries, then I open the app. It's on the first home screen to the left.
    • Twitter for HTC -- This is the best widget. I flip to the first home screen to the right and the full screen widget shows the latest tweets. It is much faster than opening up the app. I can scroll as well. This is how a good widget should be. Give you info quickly and scrollable.
    • Agenda Screen for the HTC Calendar -- Another excellent widget. Full screen and shows my upcoming events. Scrollable to see additional events off the bottom of the screen. It is on the second home screen second to the right.

    Other objects on my home screens are short cuts to applications. I won't go over these in details. I try to group them, but generally, the most often used apps are on the centre home screen. The more often I use the app, the more likely it is close to the centre home screen. The least often used apps are on the home screens farthest from the centre. I populate all 7 of my home screens with apps and widgets.

    I have found is that the clock widget is more for show than anything else. I decided that a 4x4 clock makes pretty crappy use of the space. My lock screen has the time and date, so there is no need to unlock the phone to look at the time and then wait for the animated hands to swing into proper position. (I like analogue clock faces.) I have since replaced it with the short cut to the clock app to set alarms, use the timer or check times in other time zones.

    I have also found that many apps have really crappy widgets. The are not that useful to be worth taking more than 1x1 on my home screen. Not all widgets are created equal and I found many to be rather lacking. Many are more for show than being useful. I guess if you like having cool looking widgets and animated wall papers, it's up to you. I lean more to the functional side. If it takes more than 1x1 on a home screen, it better be useful. Otherwise, I'd rather just use a short cut.
     
  7. daveybaby

    daveybaby Android Expert
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    I used to have 7 homescreens and couldnt imagine making do with less, but nowadays I find I only need 5:

    Far Left: Pure calendar grid widget

    Left: A bunch of folders containing apps organised by type (e.g. games, media, camera, travel etc)

    Center: Clock widget (simi clock), upcoming calendar events (simple calendar), battery level (circle battery), weather (snowstorm)

    Right: Shortcuts to frequently used apps

    Far Right: Pretty much a whole page of power control widgets (created using widgetsoid)

    And on the dock (along with the app drawer) i have the most frequently used apps (email, SMS, phone, contacts)

    This setup works for me at the moment, it may well change again in future - that's one of the great things about android :)
     
  8. Mad_Sunday

    Mad_Sunday Well-Known Member
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    The idea is that you can find what you use mostly, quickly. Put the stuff you use most on the home screen you phone starts on. Remove from the 1st screen stuff you never use (the email shortcut is no use to me so its gone) and replace it with stuff you need to access most often. Use different home screens for different situations (home, work, media playing, photo shooting/editing) you use your phone for/in.
     
  9. polstein

    polstein Member
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    Thanks for the tips. I guess it does come down to what's most comphy for each person. I've been trying a few different layouts on home, but I guess for me home screen isn't that important after all.

    Agreed that a lot of apps should really be putting more effort into their widgets.

    One quick side note - I'm using a CM7 rom on my phone, so quick toggles (flashlight, brightness, wifi, autorotate is easily accessible from my notification drop down).

    I can certainly that is people don't like things like SwipePad (or the others) that the Home screen is the best way to group & launch apps - especially if you use Circle Launcher or Folder Organizer or the like.

    I find it very interesting to read about how many screens people have & which widgets are on them!
     
  10. Bnice

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    If you have an HTC phone with sense ,the home screen just make sense with the ability to change your scenes at any given time.
     
  11. Stuntman

    Stuntman Android Expert
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    I never really used the scenes. I find that 7 home screens is enough for me. I also have a separate phone for work. If I had to use my HTC for work and personal use, I would probably set up a work scene with its set of home screens and a personal scene with my existing set of home screens. I can see the potential for scenes, but currently do not have a use for them. With 7 home screens per scene plus multiple scenes, you can have a lot of customisation and functionality on how your home screens look.
     
  12. takeshi

    takeshi Android Expert
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    Pretty much analogous to the desktop(s) on your PC.

    I don't see how the app drawer is useless unless you have no need to ever see all the installed apps on your device but to each his own.

    I'd agree with your analogy if Android was a windowed OS but it's not so the analogy fails for me. What alternative would you suggest for launching a new app if you're in an app already?

    Neither. Things in the real world are rarely one-size-fits-all. Never assume that your particular preferences are universal. Some people use their home screens, some do not. The only boat you're missing is "preference" but it seems pretty common for most forum users to have tunnel vision that prevents them from acknowledging the fact that different people can prefer different things.

    Bingo. Subjective preference, yet again. Notice how some people have nothing on their computer's desktop? Notice how others have tons of icons? Same idea, basically.
     
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  13. polstein

    polstein Member
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    Because having all your apps in one big list seems a pretty bad way to launch apps. (Also why I'm glad I found the Organized App drawer)

    As I mentioned I use SwipePad. Others would be Clutch Pad, Smart Taskbar, Power Strip - or - going to your Home Launcher & going to the App Draw or a shortcut on a home screen.

    Exactly my point & the reason for the post. What I'm currently doing works for me, but I feel like I am not using the Home Screen to it's full (or "correct" capability). I am actually assuming the opposite - that what I'm doing (largely ignoring the Home screen) is the minority, and if so what is everyone else doing that I'm not?

    Or to put it another way: I currently don't use my home screen much. Please help me learn how to use it better to make my Android experience better then it already is :)


    Bingo. Subjective preference, yet again. Notice how some people have nothing on their computer's desktop? Notice how others have tons of icons? Same idea, basically.
     
  14. Stuntman

    Stuntman Android Expert
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    Regardless of whether or not you are in the minority, if it is working for you, why do you feel the need to change it? I have told you how I use my home screens and widgets. If you like what I do, feel free to copy me.

    What do you think your current Android experience can be improved? What is it about the way you current access your apps and features on your phone you feel is lacking? The home screen is available for you to use if you feel like using it. If not, it doesn't bother me. As long as you can access everything you need in a comfortable manner, why change?
     
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  15. Slug

    Slug Check six!
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    There's your "problem" right there.... you're not giving your own judgement enough credit. If one way works for you then don't try to force another on yourself. Adapt others' ideas to suit your needs, not change them. :)
     
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  16. jroc

    jroc Android Expert
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    I'm the million icons on desktop guy...lol. I think thats why I use my Android phone they way I do. Habit. I do use folders on my desktop tho. None on my phone anymore.

    Now that I think about it....its time for me to clean up my PC desktop...and mess around with my home screens...

    I'm about to do this and might get a new phone in Aug...
     
  17. frenzy757

    frenzy757 Well-Known Member
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    I left my iphone 4 because of this....all the apps are all cluttered and have NO order to them inherently. Sure I can make them alphabetically but I would have to rearrage shit everytime I DLed something.

    I like having an organized home screen with what I want...then if I need to fish something out I can go to the app drawer which has everything and its all organized nicely.
     
  18. pool_shark

    pool_shark Android Expert
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    I only use 4 home screens. I can't stand the cluttered icon look, so I have no app icons on any of my home screens. I use launcher pro and I have access to 30 apps via the dock at the bottom.

    On my main home screen I have a beautiful widgets widget and the news (which changes topics).
    On one I have the power control widget so I can disable certain features when I want.
    On the other I have the launcher pro calendar widget.

    The 4th is blank. I use that one when I want to try out new widgets.
     
  19. polstein

    polstein Member
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    A couple reasons. There's a huge number of Widget only apps. There's a large number of normal apps that also have a widget component. There's got to be a good reason for all of them.

    Also, like many Android people, I like to keep changing up my phone. I change the icons on SwipePad every few weeks. I change my lockscreen (Widget Locker) all the time. I'd like to try using the home screen more to see if it turns out that I like using it much better then the way I do things now.

    Part of it is just for discussion sake. I'm also a bit surprised that no one else has posted something like "I'm with you, I never use my home screen."

    Finally, in the few threads I watch for home screen shots, it's a never ending stream of screen with the date/time/weather/icons in different combos. I'm still really hoping to see some interesting ways to use the home screen where I go "wow, that's amazing, *that's* really using your home screen in a great way."

    As an example of a way to push the home screen using Launcher Pro & it's scripting ability, check out Scrolling Wallpaper 2.0 | themeDROID. In this build, he has it so that when you click the icons on the left, it jumps to different home screens. The dock bar has a mask in the lower left. The wallpaper has icons in the bottom left. Net effect, a different icon shows through the mask in the bottom left to show which screen you are on. Very clever.

    Ah well, time to put this one to bed I guess. You are all probably right & my brain is just wired a bit differently. I'm pretty happy with my setup now, and I guess I'm jut the rare one that won't use the home screen.

    Thanks again to everyone for responding.
     
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  20. Stuntman

    Stuntman Android Expert
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    I've said which widgets I find are most useful for my purposes. If any of them interest you, give them a try. There are a lot of widgets and apps with widgets. I personally find that many of them are not that useful to me. Like everything else in life, there are some good ones and some not so good ones. I think the not so good ones out number the good ones.

    I hope we've given you enough ideas to try out. What you can do with home screens is not limited to how we use them. If you find some good ideas that work for you, feel free to share them with us.

    You use some sort of launcher which in a way serves a similar functionality as a home screen. There may be people who do something similar, but may consider their launcher to be their "home screen."

    This seems to be the standard that I see. For whatever reason, most people have a date/time/weather widget on their home screen. I had the clock widget for quite a while before speaking with someone about it and then realising that a clock widget is redundant. It seems to be a standard config to have a clock on phones for a long time even before smartphones. My old Nokia N97 always had the clock/calendar by default and you cannot remove it. Then the weather widget seems to be another popular widget which I also had on my old N97. I guess I find comfort knowing the weather without looking out a window. :)

    I don't know what home screen configuration would "amaze" anyone in particular. It's generally not the home screen. It's the apps or widgets. What amazes me are apps and widgets that I would actually find useful. Find what functions amaze you and then find the apps and widgets that help you access those functions easily. I think your launcher already does that for you for the most part. Looking at another home screen isn't that interesting because it is unlikely I find something that is more suited to how I use my phone more than what I have already done myself. What would really amaze me is the ability to calibrate auto brightness on my phone, but I have mentioned that in too many threads already.:)

    That is pretty cool. It organises your apps pretty well. As for functionality, organising your apps into groups has some disadvantages. For instance, you may use some of your social apps more than others. The same with games, tools, etc. If I generally use 2/4 social apps, 2/8 games, 2/6 tools very often, why not put those 2 social apps, 2 games and 2 tools all in one home screen instead of spreading them out across different catorised screens? When launching one of my favourite games, it takes as many taps as launching a game I play once in a blue moon. If I had those 6 apps all in the first home screen, all of my commonly used apps require a single tap to launch. Those that I use less often will require more taps, but that's OK. Sometimes, things that look cool may not necessarily be the most functional or convenient.

    Any time. This is quite an interesting discussion.
     
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  21. polstein

    polstein Member
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    Been a while but I thought I'd update this thread.

    I would up shifting away from Swipepad for the moment, both for a change of pace & to give Quick Desk a try. Similar functions, but QD rund from the home button. Also, it's a click (which I generally prefer) & not an slide.

    Once nice thing about QD is that I set it to always show recent tasks (bottom row), 12 top apps (next 3 rows - custom icons via Desktop Visualizer Widgets), and a set of folders to get to the next top 48 (!) apps broken down into 4 folders.

    BTW, QD supports Widgets, but any that involve clicking (like Folder Organizer) will pop out of the QD app.

    It hasn't been updated in a while, but I did talk to the dev who was taking suggestions on new fixes/features (and I gave him a list).

    After playing & enjoying for a week, I decided to try an experiment & use the home launcher & replicate the QD look & features. There is a widget to do recent tasks, I have Folder Organizer, Circle Launcher, Simi Folders for folders, and Desktop Visualizer for individual apps.

    I started like pool_shark mentioned above with the Folder Organizer at the bottom (was what I used when I started Android). THen I tried Simi. Wasn't happy with either.

    So I decided to try a variation of the fancy Launcher Pro scripting thing I wrote about earlier.

    I made 6 (!) home screens. I set the 5 icons on the dock to jump to screns 2-6, while the home button is set to jump to page 1.

    Page 1 has a row of Beautiful Widgets for weather/battery/time. Next rows are my top 12 apps. I didn't like the recent app widgets, so using the hold-home button for now.

    In no special order, other pages have Calendar widget (with related apps); tasks widget (and related apps); a Media
    page; a gaming page...etc.

    Once nice thing about only using a 4x4 grid instead of the normal squeeze lots of stuff onto it is that I can see my backround, so I'm playing with Live Wallpaper (one big advantage of using a home screen).

    I'm still adjusting to this style. Dunno if I will stick to it over QD - or go back to SwipePad. But having fun trying it out!
     
  22. zuben el genub

    zuben el genub Android Expert
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    Just a way to use a photo of something I like. Nothing on it but a transparent clock.
    Right now it's the Monitor and Merrimac Buttes off hwy 313 in Utah.
    Utilities are on the second screen, and reference on the third, all backed by that picture.
     
  23. cds0699

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    This is what's important. I love being creative and trying out new things... considering I know I can always go back to what I know if I don't like it :)
     

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