There is no shortage of launcher replacements for Android, but once in a while a new one comes along and takes the launcher experience to a new level. Such is the case with TSF Shell Pro, a new launcher currently in development by a team of developers who call themselves C3D. TSF, their brand, stands for The Special Forces, and special they are - just take a look at what the team cooked up.
Offering a simple, no-nonsense entry into the replacement dialer game, ShSh Software gives us TAKEphONE - a plain, unassuming alternative to Android's stock Phone app.
At A Glance
TAKEphONE is by all accounts a simple dialer replacement. When I say simple I mean it has three main screens, each with subtle variations in their settings menus. This isn't necessarily a bad thing, as it keeps the app lightweight and easy. I will say, however, that the app could use some polish.
Tonight, TouchType Ltd. released a much-anticipated update to SwiftKey X, the text prediction authority among replacement keyboards. The update brings a ton of improvements, from UI tweaks to performance and language changes, and even prediction enhancements. Perhaps more important than all of that, however, is the fact that SwiftKey X 2.2 has full Ice Cream Sandwich support, and an enhanced multi-touch framework, keeping the keyboard replacement ahead of the curve.
Specifically, the update brings the following changes:
- Full language localization for major European languages (English, Spanish, French, German, Italian and Portugese)
- Intelligent typing support extended to 35 languages, including Arabic and Hebrew
- Enhanced multi-touch framework for faster typing
- Prediction and correction enhancements thanks to a more efficient Fluency engine
- Graphic enhancements, including a better settings menu, alternative character selection and sharing features
- Enhancements to the keyboard to change the height in both portrait and landscape modes
- New Dvorak and Colemak layouts for those who wish to depart from QWERTY
- Reduced memory use
- Full Support for Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich
If you aren't already a fan of SwiftKey X, these enhancement should go a long way in convincing you.
Continuing on the quest for the perfect dialer to replace Android's stock phone application, I've come across Contapps Contacts & Dialer, an app I had never heard of until I began scouring the market. For a free dialer app, it has a lot to offer, and I'm surprised that it isn't more popular.
At A Glance
Contapps is a dialer replacement that is simple, practical, and well-designed, with enough extra features to make it feel new.
Joining the vast crowd of dialer replacements in the Android Market, our hunt has brought us to Angel Dialer, an uncomplicated app that effectively replaces the stock Android dialer, but which may have compromised necessary functionality for a no-frills implementation.
At A Glance
While Angel Dialer takes a concerted stance against superfluous features, its simplicity is not always a plus. While its features work, and it provides the same basic functionality we've seen before, it is lacking a few things that would take it up a level, and make it a decent dialer replacement.
I'm not sure I would personally ever do that (wait, I'm sure - I'm shrugging just thinking about it), but let's say that you really love the look and feel of the the iOS desktop UI found on Apple's iPhone, with the launchpad, rounded corners, folders, trembling icons with little X's, etc. However, you also love the flexibility that Android offers. Can both be combined? The answer, as it turns out, is yes - Espier Launcher, which just landed in the Android Market (probably immediately infringing on a few dozen Apple patents).
From developer DWP, DW Contacts & Phone & Dialer (hereafter referred to as DW Contacts) makes our fifth entry in the hunt for the best dialer, combining a slew of features into one versatile (if a little clumsy) interface.
At A Glance
The first thing I notice about most apps is their visual design. DW Contacts was no different in this regard, but that isn't necessarily a good thing. DW doesn't offer anything really new in the design department, except for the ability to change the colors, transparency, and font size of pretty much any element of the app.
Next in our series of dialer reviews is a very popular replacement dialer called simply Dialer One, developed by Yermek Zhumagulov and available from the Android Market for free. It has a slick design with multiple theming options, and combines just about all the features you need into one screen, which seriously cuts down on time spent navigating around to find what you want.
At A Glance
I have a habit of talking a lot about the design of an app, but in this case there isn't much to say.
Next in our hunt for the best replacement dialer app is Touchpal from the developers at CooTek, the same team behind Touchpal Keyboard and Search.
CooTek's dialer is extremely well-designed, unassuming, and easy to use. It combines most of the features I want in a dialer but doesn't attempt to overdo things with too many superfluous or redundant functions. Best of all, the dialer is totally free.
At A Glance
Immediately after installing Touchpal, I was impressed.
With all the things that Android phones are capable of, it's easy to neglect the feature of the device that actually makes it worth carrying around instead of a tablet or laptop: the dialer.
Android's native dialer is super fast, but pretty basic. It works alright, but just doesn't add that extra something that brings making a phone call up to par with the rest of the things your phone can do.