It took the Android world by storm a few weeks ago…a new style of Android Home Screen. Instead of several desktop style screens with widgets and icons, SlideScreen was only one screen, with sections for missed calls, emails, SMS, weather and time, Twitter, RSS and stocks. All useful stuff, and you could “slide” the weather/time block up or down to expand the information. Francis and I love our Android phones, and thought this had the potential to add a great deal of functionality to our phones, so we each gave it a try. Here was our experience.
(Note: Carly is in blue italics, and Francis is in black.)
Carly: At first, I was super excited. It reminded me in spirit of Windows Mobile Standard’s sliding screens, and I thought those were great, so this would be even better! And it was…sort of. On the one hand, it was useful to have so much information at my fingertips. I could easily preview emails and texts, and it sucked me into following Twitter more closely than I previously did. And the RSS and stock feeds were a nice touch.
But all was not well. For starters, SlideScreen only showed mail that came through the GMail application. Since I maintain both my gmail and Gear Diary emails on my phone, it was a pain to exit SlideScreen to get to any Gear Diary mail in the other email application. In fact, it was kind of a pain to get to anything that wasn’t on the main screen. Yes, you could hit the menu button and flip over to your applications, but you only have eight spots for quick apps, and everything else was in the main app drawer. And settings was buried two levels deep (hit menu, hit menu again) instead of just one touch away. Little things, but they add up.
The real showstopper for me, though, was the battery life. I am used to having to charge my Droid by around 3pm on a work day, and being on fumes on a weekend. But my battery life was AWFUL with SlideScreen installed. A quick check of battery use showed that SlideScreen slurped down somewhere between 3-7% of my battery at any given time. That’s a lot of battery life! I found that it was reducing my runtime by a solid 2-3 hours a day, and that was just unacceptable. What was really irritating was that I already had SlideScreen set to update as little as possible (roughly every hour or so). For reference, I have TwiDroid and NewsROB set to the same intervals, and neither of them has crept into the battery use meter at all on an average day. Even with SlideScreen in “app mode”, where it could just be launched as a reference app instead of a home screen, it STILL sucked down 3% a day. Without a significant update to control the battery issue, I had to uninstall SlideScreen. Hopefully it improves in the future.
Francis: The application looked like the end all home screen at first glance, everything I needed to quickly see everything going on without having to open every application. I decided to give Slidescreen (ad supported) a shot and see how it fared on my T-mobile MyTouch. The app was a quick and easy download and installation. I was surprised how easy the setup was for all the supported apps and clients. After a quick installation and setup, Slidescreen now became my new homescreen, and I had simple access to all the things I need most like Gmail, SMS, Twitter, time/date, RSS and calls.
It took a half a day to realize that some thing became more of an inconvenience than helpful at all. The fact that you can slide the individual panels up and down to reveal the next message, call, or text was very convenient and easy. But it was also for me, one of the most annoying functions. I quickly found out that having more than one unread SMS or email would cover up the next panel beneath it. You could easily slide the panels back into place but for some reason mine would not snap back to the single panel per app default. You had the ability to remove certain panels that you didn’t want but you could not move them around to fit your style. That turned out to be a big issue for me.
The second nail in the coffin was the difficulty to get to anything that was not on the homescreen. Sometimes I needed to get back to the original homescreen but found it difficult if I used more than 8 apps since the last time I selected the homescreen. This was only day 2 and I was starting to get annoyed. I wanted to give it a week before I pulled the plug to see if I just need to adjust or if I really didn’t like the app.
The final blow to me was insane drain on my battery life. The Mytouch usually gets me a full heavy use day or even more out of a single battery charge. I found that by 5:00pm after a night of charging I was down to about 25% or less on the power gauge. I tested this again for another day or so with the same results. That was it for me, I could not hold on anymore and had to uninstall. I was hoping that there would have been an update to address some of these issues but so far we have not seen one. Some of my dislikes probably could have been worked out or maybe adjustments made to make things easier. My vote for now on the Slidescreen app is a full thumbs down.
What We Liked:
-everything in one spot. allows you to quickly review all your calls, texts, emails, etc with one hand
-connects to all native apps quickly and easily
What We Disliked:
-Devastating to battery life
-Cannot move panels around on the screen, stuck to default locations.
-Difficult to get to your other apps
-could not adjust color of text for easier reading, the black backround sometimes made the panels hard for me to read