3 Much Needed Android “Replacements”

I’ve been an Android user for just about 3 years now. In its humble beginnings, there were a lot of core features “missing” from the platform. In fact, there wasn’t even an on-screen keyboard. Since then, the Android Team has introduced a horde of new APIs granting developers access to the depths of the OS.

Nowadays, you can’t help but stumble upon tons of keyboards, Launcher replacements, and cameras. These apps help the user customize their experience to the suit their needs. Even with all of the apps available in the Android Market, there are still some aspects that users can’t change. Here are a few things I’d like to see “opened” up.

App Drawer

You may be saying to yourself “But Breon, you can use a Launcher replacement if you want a new app drawer.” This is true. Many Launcher replacements offer customizeable app drawers. I currently use LauncherPRO –which appears to have been abandoned by the developer– and it has a bunch of settings for the app drawer. However, some users may like how their “Home Screen” looks & works, but not necessarily like the app drawer itself. I’ve been test driving the HTC Rezound on Verizon. I absolutely LOVE HTC’s Sense 3.5 interface, and all of the Sense widgets, but I don’t like how the app drawer functions. Developers could include features like left-right scrolling vs. up-down, app icon hiding, animations & transition effects, folders, categories, the list can go on and on. I say separate “church and state” and allow for stand alone app drawers.

Lock Screen

There are already a couple of popular “lock screen replacements” in the Android Market. I currently use WidgetLocker to add widgets, app shortcuts, and custom unlock sliders to my lock screen.  WidgetLocker has plenty of features, but the way it works still feels like a hack.  In a perfect world, you would be able to select your lock screen of choice in Settings>Security.  Some manufactures allow you to choose from a couple, but none are as feature-rich as WidgetLocker.

Notification Panel

The notification panel is the only one, of the three, that doesn’t have a Market-available pseudo-replacement.  To the best of my knowledge, the only way to replace the notification panel is to replace the entire, stock, operating system with a custom version.  There are plenty of tutorials, and walk-throughs on the internet.  However “rooting” and installing “ROMs” may not be for the everyone.  For starters, it will void your warranty.  But enough talking about the “hard way”; Let’s talk about what I really want.  Like the “perfect world” lock screen, you would be able to choose which notification panel you’d like to use, in the Settings.  Developers could build in features like adding common settings toggles, grid view vs. list view, remove/rearrange icons, or even add widgets.

With these three “replacements” a user could customize pretty much every aspect of their experience.  I’m sure that I forgot one or two features.  If I did, let me know in the comments.

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