This is not a full review, but an update of Brent’s excellent review of Iambic’s launcher. I luckily did not encounter the crash that Brent did, but upon installation propel installed itself and then seemed to have some conflict, I believe with Uninstall Manager. I was presented with a white screen which I was able to exit by pressing a hard key. The rest of the install/registration process went very smoothly.
In preferences->programs to use I would have liked to be able to change the handling of avi and mpg files to TCPMP, but the choice was not available. As a matter of fact there seemed to be no way to change it at all. When I tapped on “Media” it stated that only Media could handle these type of files. Instead I ended up using APT to redirect calls for MEDIA to TCPMP. That being said, the implementation is very nice. I particularly liked that programs were suggested that were not even on you device, so you would then know what applications to look for to handle those files (see image 2 below – note that the apps in paraenthesis are not resident on my device).
Although it isn’t new, I liked the ability to set various backgrounds, especially the option to use a faster cached version of a jpg. I didn’t like the fact that when the background is displayed, it only displays in 320×320 view instead of using my full 320×480 or 480×320 screen space. Propel itself uses all screen space available, so I’m not sure why it limits the backgrounds, even the built in palm image I used in the first image below. Backgrounds I took from my own jpgs were similarly limited and images I had sized to fit to my screen (320×480) also experienced shrinking side to side (image 2 below). The only way I was able to get a full screen background is by choosing “solid colour” in the background choice and selecting a color (see image 3).
A welcome addition is the ability to Display icons or names or both on the category tabs. You can only display up to 8 tabs at a time even with the view set to icons only (more if you go into landscape mode, but that’s another story). Iambic should revisit this aspect of the launcher. I use LauncherX and can get 11 tabs with icons only across the same screen. This is important for anyone who wants to do some categorization of their apps. I confess that I didn’t play around with the skins in propel and that I needed to find a skin in LX that would allow me to display that many tabs (not all do).
Propel vs LauncherX
The Favorites and Hidden Items preferences section title bar came out garbled:
I think it was well thought out to provide navigation option for your hard keys while inside propel. I found a major drawback to be no options for the 5 way toggle and the default implementation of its use was at best non-intuitive. For instance moving between tabs is not possible as far as I can tell with the 5way or d-pad. It is nice that I can use it to go up and down as well as sideways within a tab and go up to the tab bar and then down to the tools bar and navigate through that.
Like Resco, Iambic has put in an item that gets updates for the software. Unlike the Resco update feature, the feature in Propel will get much more – bookmarks, skins, backgrounds, and plugins.
After messing around in all the preferences I found that it was starting to hang a bit. it was only during certain operations (setting the preferences for the resco backup plugin made it hang for 15 minutes before I decided to stop it).
Categorizing using the tabs was a little difficult. I would have liked something akin to a drop down of existing tabs during a tap and hold, instead of actions. This is of course a setup impression, I would guess it is handier to have the actions drop down after setup. But in the course of trying to drag and drop icons from one tab to another, the app ended up moving my SDHC driver file to the card instead of moving it to another tab. I had to reinstall my driver in order to access my card. This mistaken move happened more times than the app actually moved to the correct tab, until I got used to scrolling the app to the top of the tab tap and dragging correctly. Also it seems it is easier to move icons between categories when in the list view – 1 column of apps per tab.
There is still a problem if you want to hide the status bar. On my TX the statusbar did disappear but it left a blank white area and propel reverted to 320×320 mode. When I tapped to bring the statusbar back, it reappeared and propel came back to 320×480 mode.
- Icon view in categories
- integrated with Icon Manager to bring in new icons or edit existing ones
- update feature is very encompassing
- Type to search great for finding apps or files in advanced view
- Backgrounds for different tabs
- I liked that you could assign most file types to be handled by your own installed applications (and if you weren’t sure what to use there were even suggestions as to what application to get)
- Iambic didn’t address the problem with setting different font sizes for different aspects of the app (categories, apps, etc)
- Although there is now an icon view in the categories, there can only be 8 categories visible at any one time and there is no drop down to access categories not displayed (like the tabs in FireFox).
- The tabbed interface is difficult to use (see my section on dragging and dropping)
- For all intents and purposes, the statusbar still cannot be taken off the screen in propel
- 5 way navigation is not implemented well
- There was a garbled text error in one of the preferences screens
- Backgrounds from images that should have filled the whole screen did not, the only thing that did was the solid color option
- The program does not allow you to reassign which program handles avi and mpg files – it is set to use Media only