Mar 15 AT 11:57 AM Matthew Stevens 34 Comments

Open Home Brings Cupcake Features to Android G1

Looking for a Home screen replacement? Might want to give Open Home a look. Similar to the other home replacement applications Open Home gives you additional Home screens, 7 total. Unlike aHome or dxTop, Open Home only slides either left or right, not up or down.

The developer, Better Android, already has a number of themes available and is being assisted by users over on xda-developer forum. Better Android is offering a free copy of the full application to the original artists of any available themes. The wording in the theme descriptions seem to imply he may have modified them from themes intended for another purpose and without the artist’s permission. I hope that isn’t the case, as it would be a copyright violation. Several of the themes are quite nice, a few don’t suit my taste nevertheless, are nicely done.

Soft keyboard on home screen

Soft Keyboard on Home Screen

What makes Open Home standout at the moment is the newly Open Home – Cupcake Full edition giving users a peak at the infamous Cupcake update, expected in April in the U.S. The demo features Live Folders and touch screen keyboard (search only) , screen rotation and something called Rename Work Space. Cupcake has additional upgrades beyond what Open Home can emulate at the moment most of which are beyond what Better Android could develop with the current API release.

To demo Live Folders install the Live Folders demo. This demo offers two previews, Contacts With Numbers and All Contacts. When added to the Home screen and launched each Live Folder displays contacts with a translucent background that appears like a “windowed” application. I didn’t have any trouble with All Contacts but Contacts With Phone Numbers displayed contacts multiple times and when a contact was selected displayed the wrong one, proof this is in fact a demo.

Additional features shown is an application dock which appears on the right side of the screen as a white star. The white star is difficult to see on the default skin, so be sure to look for it. In portrait mode a small magnifying glass appears on the left side when activated switches to whichever screen has the search window and shows the on-screen keyboard. The keyboard is responsive enough, certainly as responsive as the iPhone or Storm’s on-screen keyboards. I’m not a fan of on-screen typing but is handy for a quick one or two word search without opening the keyboard.

Application Dock

Application Dock

The last feature worth noting is the auto-rotating screen giving Android the much sought after ability of the iPhone and S60 devices for quite some time. Auto-rotate works reasonably well although could use a sliding sensitivity setting for better sensitivity if desired. Auto-rotate will be handy for those few apps the don’t fit on the screen in landscape or portrait however, without a landscape on-screen keyboard its functionality is less useful.

All of these options can be enabled or disabled from Open Home’s settings. There is an option for Renaming Work Space. I’m not sure what is defined as Work Space. I didn’t find any area that could be renames, as such appears to be a useless option at the moment.

Better Android is offering this application for $2.99 until more features are available, persumably when Cupcake is released. Better Android says this update is nearly the same as the Lite edition but also states the Cupcake edition may or may not go up in price with Cupcakes release. For this reason I don’t know I would recommend purchasing this app just yet. I might just stick with the lite version at least until Cupcake is released.

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