OK, time for a confession. I’ve got 179 apps on my Android smartphone at the moment, which will do everything from send a postcard to measure the height of that tree over there. Ask me how many I use day to day? Probably three. Max five. Camera, dialer (duh), text, music and maps. And we’re guessing there’s a bunch of people like me who only use a fraction of the capabilities of their phone at any one time.
So why do we all have these incredibly complex home screens and tricky menus, when most of the time it’s all about firing up the camera quickly, or answering a text message? Beats me. So we’re thinking that this new Wiser launcher skin for Android is actually a pretty good idea for a lot of people.
The basic home screen is a simple collection of six icons, covering the things you probably use the most in any day. And that’s it. If you want any more apps on display you have to swipe sideways to get to another screen, where you can add your additional favorite apps as you need. You can also set up a screen with your favorite contacts for instant calling.
We really like also the simplicity of the basic apps too. For example, the contact someone screen is about as awesome as you can get. Their photo, two icons for SMS or call, and a couple of tabs for their email address and additional phone number. Beautifully elegant and oh so useful. And easy to use.
The same thing applies to the dial screen. None of these hard to read, and very complicated menus that look so confusing, just a simple screen with some big dial numbers and a friendly green dial button. And the call history is equally as cool, with easy to read data.
The whole thing is a pleasure to use because it doesn’t involve lots of peering, thinking and otherwise trying to work out what to do on any particular page. We guess that’s exactly why iPhone users enjoy their interface so much, and maybe Android developers could learn a lesson or two.
If there is a criticism we’d make it’s that we would really like the ability to do just a minimum of tweaking on the front main screen. For example, one thing that most people would like to add on there, is a clock and weather widget or something similar for keeping tabs on time and conditions. Personally I’d also like to swap out the gallery icon for a music player app, because that’s what I use more.
It’s a tricky balancing act between having something look awesome out of the box, and giving it just a little more of a customization ability, but if that could be done, then it would be simply amazing for a lot of people. As it is, it’s a great product, and will definitely appeal to folks who just want to use their phone for basic things most of the time. But we’re so hoping that the developers give it a little bit of tweakability to make it almost perfect. Definitely worth checking out.
[Oh and the Companion app looks interesting too, as a remote support tool. In private beta at the moment].