LauncherX 1.1 from Little
Bozidar Benc commands a distinguished position
in Palm OS history. He wrote a host of popup hacks that remain
popular today on pre-OS 5 devices. His Launcher III set the
early standard for Palm OS third-party launchers. LauncherX
stands as the proud successor to Launcher III for newer devices.
On initial install, LauncherX does not
read the system categories, nor can it import them later.
In addition to apps, it will display iSilo, WordSmith, Palm
Docs, hacks if your hack manager is supported (OS 4.x and
below), and Quickword docs in the launcher. You can move
these to any tab you wish, just as if they were apps. If
supported by the individual app, tapping on these icons will
launch the parent app with the tapped file loaded. This overall
behavior can be customized in the preference settings. I
recommend setting LX's App Refresh setting to Ignore Card
to speed its loading. I generally recommend similar settings
for all launchers. You can simply manually rescan if you
install something new to the card.
LauncherX sports a clean, some might say
austere, interface. That interface can be customized through
the use of skins. Skins determine things like tabs use and
their location, in addition to the usual things like colors
and icons. In fact, skins provide the only means of changing
the tab layout. Little Mobile Creations uses the marketing
term ''active skins'' for these, and others like Lubak actively
develop new skins for LauncherX. The gadgets at the bottom
perform a number of useful functions and can be chosen by
the user, but they don't support balloon help—i.e.,
providing a popup box with its function on tap-and-hold.
Each category tab may be configured individually,
providing considerable flexibility for the user. An icon
can be assigned to each category, the icon views can vary
by category, as well as the number of columns of apps, app
icon text font/color, password protection, and sort order
set as well. There's also an option to use the current tab
setup as the default for all tabs. Apps can be dragged-and-dropped
to categories, but the categories themselves cannot be rearranged
that way. Also, tapping and holding on an app icon brings
up a list of categories for assignment. LauncherX doesn't
support Background images.
The user brings up the file manager with
the Card gadget or the menu. This method can be misleading
as the view can be switched to RAM once in the file manager,
so it isn't just a card tool. One can perform all the common
file functions, including move, copy, delete, beam, rename,
open, and send to by tapping and holding on a file. Nice
extras include the directory check box that selects the entire
displayed folder with one tap. Sort order (ascending or descending)
and the right column information (size, date, type, creator
ID) may be set by tapping on the respective areas. Highlighting
a file won't enable any functions to be performed using the
buttons at the bottom; only checking the box next to a file
enables these buttons. Tapping on the directory name brings
up a tree for quick directory changes. Interestingly, file
attributes cannot be changed from the file manager but only
in the launcher through the an apps information popup.
LauncherX doesn't seem to use applications'
built-in small icon for display. Instead, it seems to miniaturize
the app's large icon to show in the launcher. Who cares?
Well, some apps like Datebk5 have different large and small
icons with the larger ones having more intricacies, and other
apps just have very poor small icons for display. LauncherX
provides a consistent icon look regardless of the size chosen.
Shortcuts and bundling offer up yet more
of power for LauncherX, this time in memory management. Shortcuts
allow an application to reside on the card and yet still
Hotsync properly with its conduit. Bundling allows an app
and its pertinent data (as long as the creator ID is the
same) to be stored together on the card. When the app executes,
LX will copy the program AND its data to RAM for execution.
Upon app exit, any changed data copies back to the card.
Bundling serves up PowerRun-like functionality in LX.
Global preference settings include skin
selection, app refresh mode, screen color depth, category
title font and display (icon only or include text), and gadget
selection. LauncherX also allows the user to set document
search paths on the card. You could use this setting to put
executable apps elsewhere than the /Palm/Launcher/ directory,
but be careful about where the app expects to find its support
and data files.
LauncherX tips the RAM scales at 247K after
electing to remove extraneous parts on initial install, plus
771K for skin and supporting data files. That's 1,018K total
as I had it setup.
Some may remember the days when Little
Mobile Creations first announced LauncherX and the period
shortly after its release. Customer support initially proved
spotty at best, and development releases slow in coming.
I believe it worth mentioning here that the vast majority
of Palm OS developers have jobs, families, and lives outside
of the Palm OS world. Some live in dangerous parts of the
world, and are also subject to natural disasters. They can't
always be as responsive as they or their users would like.
Bozidar Benc cares deeply about his customers, and took steps
to rectify the temporary support issues. Support questions
once again receive answers quickly. If you were disappointed
earlier, I recommend giving Little Mobile Creations another
LauncherX stands today as a work in progress.
Capabilities like background images and a recent/favorite
app display are in the works. As it stands today, LauncherX
provides a clean but capable launcher alternative with nice
customizability and function. At $18.95 for a limited time
($24.95 normally), it will enhance any Palm OS handheld's
appearance and function.
Nice file manager
Shortcuts for Hotsync
Some display configurations (e.g., use of tabs and their locations) only
changeable through skins
Lacks some promised functions
No background image support