Posts tagged ‘homescreen’

2010-08-08

Customize your Symbian S60v3 home screen

The state of the Symbian S60v3 homescreens

Most Symbian devices already pack one or two homescreens, either made by the handset manufacturer or by the carrier you bought the phone from.

My Nokia n85 comes with a choice between three home screens, but other models may have other options too.

The first one is the “Basic” home screen, looking a bit like the S40 one:

Nokia S60 Basic Homescreen

Nokia n85 S60 Basic Homescreen

And the two more modern, with icons and different notifications (but not very configurable).

S60 Horizontal Icons Homescreen

S60 Vertical Icons Homescreen

Then there’s the ones that may be carrier specific, such as in this Vodafone UK home screen, unfortunately not available for download:

These built-in homescreens allow you to do the basic operations such as calling, looking up a contact, checking your mail or scanning for WLANs (in the case of the Icon sets homescreens) but are a far cry by today’s standards, with Big Clocs, weather info, twitter or facebook updates, SMS preview-ing and what not.

Third-party homescreens

This is my attempt at an exhaustive listing of third party solutions available for Symbian S60v3, ending with more details on the one I picked to use for my day to day smart usage of the phone:

Handy Shell

Epocware’s Handy Shell is a powerful commercial home-screen replacement for S60v3. If bought together with Handy Weather, it also displays a nice forecast in the lower part of the screen:

Handy Shell with Handy Weather

  • Home screen:
  • Big digital clock
  • Row with customizable shortcuts
  • Exhaustive indicators
  • Calendar events
  • Weather information
  • Smart dialing
  • 12 Applications screen
  • 12 Favourite contacts screen
  • Photo viewer
  • Screen switching effects (cube, slide, etc)

It’s a pretty functional home-screen, with lots of features and very useful information. What I didn’t liked about it was the fact that you had to manually confiugre those two applications and contacts screens (event the photo, wasn’t the system-provided one).

The other drawback was the price. If it was the best homescreen, I would have payed the $19 for it (I would have had a second thought avout the $24 for Handy Weather, though).

Hiplogic Live

Hiplogic Live is a good-looking but huge download (eats 6MB out of your internal memory) which includes many apps along with the home screen itself, and an App Store to choose some more.

Hiplogic Live home screen

  • One big widget at a time (clock, weather, twitter etc.)
  • Screen notifications
  • Integrated google search
  • 3 Applications Screens (with many preinstalled ones)

HipLogic’s homescreen is one of the nicest looking ones. It is, however, less integrated into the operating system than Handy Shell, as it presents a list of applications that has no real resemblence of what you find on your phone, plus – it has a very awkward way of dialing (as opposed to smart dialing, it requires you to press 2 keys before searching the contact..).

The other problem is having a 6MB application in your phone’s internal memory – it’s the size of Ovi Maps, but with much less functionality.

Plus, the good looks are not equaled by the keyboard functionality: many keys that you expected to work (such as the Delete one, the left-right on the homescreen) do nothing at all).

MMMOOO’s M1

This is also good looking, like other products from MMMOOO (MyPhone), but it’s actually just an FlashLite application, not a real homescreen (it closes on red button, doesn’t dial, just sits there and fools you into thinking it’s Android).

M1's home screen

M1's Menu

Needless to say that this M1 homescreen provides close to no keyboard support, and the application list there is just a guess on what you may have installed.

Voyager Mobile’s vHome

vHome seems the most feature-wise homescreen  with the smallest footprint out there.

In 700KB, you get:

Voyager Mobile's vHome

  • Exhaustinve indicators + access to their corresponding applications
  • Big digital clock + access to the Clock application
  • One or two rows of configurable shortcuts + access to their configuration by pressing Delete(‘C’)
  • RSS reader
  • Google search widget
  • Weather widget + Access to 3 days forecast
  • Twitter posting widget (not shown here)
  • Configurable right and left shortcuts, with some built-in options used here: a menu (Start) and the list of favourite contacts)
  • Smart dialing (used for applications too)
  • Integrated powerful task manager
  • Task switching on Red button press (now you’re sure that Red won’t randomly close some applications)

The vHome desktop is also offering the standard Nokia indicators, in which case it drops the Big digital clock, and the quick access to the indicators menu is not possible anymore

Menu shown when clicing the Indicators bar (includes Connection Manager when connected)

Native Nokia indicators (the Big digital clock is removed for obvious reasons

You can also see from the screenshot above that the Digital clock has several appearances, accessible by using the right and left keys when the clock is selected (including an HTC SenseUI-like one)

Feed selection and Weather forecast

Just check whatever you like

A cutie

Smart dialing: Whenever you press a key on the numerical keyboard, vHome opens a Contacts + Applications search, which treats each numerical key as any alphabetical combination.

Smart dialing: results from Contacts

Same screen, this time only 2 applications match

Of course if it’s a phone number you’re dialing, it will be dialed disregarding the fact that no contact name matches. But there is also the option for searching through the phone numbers too.

vHome's configurable "Start" menu (you can add a Turn Flashlight On option there)

A glimse from the settings menu (the list ends with a More Settings option;)

vHome is quite keyboard powered: pressing ‘C’/Delete on any of the RSS reader, Twitter, Weather or Google search widget offers to disable that feature, and pressing ‘C’ on one of the applications shortcuts brings the list of applications to select another one in lieu. Compare that with the S60 Icon-screen where you have to go 7 levels deep in the menu to find the list of the six shortcuts.

Customize left/right shortcuts

Pressing 'C' on the second shortcut Icon

Task Manager

Task Manager

Press 'C' to Kill

That’s it for today.

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