I just bought my Droid a few weeks ago, and I’ve been testing various programs and getting acquainted with Android 2.0. In the stock configuration, 2.0 only has 3 “home screens” for widgets and quick app access. A few quick scans around various Android forums, and I found out about one “home replacement” program that seemed to add a lot of functionality in addition to an extra home screen: DXTop.
The main reason I bought DXTop was actually not for the home screens, though the extra one is certainly welcome. I actually bought it because of two other features: the dock and a running programs tab.
The dock is very cool. Basically, you swipe your finger across the tabs at the bottom of the screen, which slide away to reveal a dock of 5 user-designated icons. It’s great for those “I don’t need them on a specific home screen but when I need them, I need them NOW” apps. Stuff like Evernote, calculator, etc. I love having them available from any screen, meaning I don’t have to remember if they’re on a specific side screen or in the app menu. The animation is smooth, and there haven’t been any lockups or unresponsive applications.
I gave up using a task manager, and I haven’t noticed a decay in performance or battery life. At the same time, it is helpful to remember what is still running and what was shut down to free up memory, or just to have a quick reference to recently used apps. There’s an easy color code system: red for currently running, yellow for a background service, white for recently used. Pressing an icon gives you the option to do nothing, look at application information, find it in the marketplace or stop it from running (if it is).
As for the home screens, you get 4 instead of 3, and instead of swiping left and right, you can swipe up/down/left right. There’s a handy diamond key between the two tabs that helps orient you if you can’t remember which screen you landed on or which direction to swipe next. Hitting home always gets you back to the top screen on the diamond no matter where you are. Moving between screens has been snappy, and I haven’t noticed any slowdowns from it.
Finally, the last big feature of DXTop is the ability to create categories for your programs tab. Rather than a big list of all programs alphabetically, you can categorize them and organize them within the tab. It makes the overall look a lot cleaner, and the only tough part is tracking where I put each app. (Did I decide Calendar was productivity or utility? Where did I put Barcode Scanner again?)
Unfortunately, DXTop did crash on me once, which was irritating. All it did was drop me back to the stock homescreen, and then hitting the home button brought me back into DXTop with no issues. My main issue is with the redraw of the screen when moving to landscape. In an app, it works beautifully, but rotating a homescreen is a jumbled, slow experience. Sometimes I get half a black screen first, sometimes I get a blank wallpaper, then a few seconds later my widgets and apps pop back into place. It’s a small delay, but it is really irritating when everything else runs smoothly.
Overall, for $2.99, DXTop is a worthwhile addition to my phone. It has some quirks, but the additional tools it offers make it worth the frustrations; I haven’t found separate apps that offer the same level of functionality that DXTop does in one package, and that makes it a keeper.
You can check out the official DXTop website, and purchase the app either directly from the website or on the Android Marketplace.
What I Like: Extra homescreen adds more usable space; Sliding dock is very convenient; Organizes programs tab; No major slowdowns with respect to app launching, notification bar, typing, etc.
What Needs Improvement: Crashed once in 3 days — Only app to crash on my phone in 3 weeks; Sloooooooow at redrawing from portrait to landscape; Takes a bit of digging to learn all the options — not a download and go kind of app