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Palm OS Launcherfest Part 2: Hi-Launcher, AppShelf, Facer 2.0 and a look at the latest ZLauncher
Posted May 2004 By Tanker Bob

Continued (page 3)

Facer 2.02

Facer stands as PocketCraft's flagship application. They designed it to be simple to use for even the novice. Although we just reviewed Facer a few months ago, this major upgrade looked interesting enough to evaluate again.

Although very similar in appearance to the previous version, PocketCraft coded Facer 2.0 from scratch and incorporated some significant changes. The most dramatic involves its new support for plug-in modules for the today page. It ships with the standard datebook and todo modules, retaining its look and feel. Third-party developers will undoubtedly produce more viewers, including email, SMS, Bible verse of the day, reminders, et al. This new feature alone should propel Facer to dominance in the today app market.

The today page fonts can now be enhanced with the included FontBucket and a very limited font database. Each of the modules can be customized to display only the information the user desires. They can be set to roll into the next day if the current day doesn't fill the screen. Tapping on an appointment or task will take you to that item in the applicable built-in PIM. These plug-ins also will display Agendus icons, but was having difficulty with Datebk5 with an identical icon set in the tested release.

Facer has always been skinable, but 2.0 greatly increases the items that can be customized in skins. PocketCraft apparently partnered with PocketPixel to produce a number of new, more comprehensive themes.

The launcher portion of Facer benefited greatly from the upgrade. First and most welcome, it automatically imports the category information from the default launcher. It also allows the user to re-import this information later. Other new features include sound effects on actions, and more comprehensive drag & drop functionality for category assignment, shortcuts, and favorites. Tap and hold on an app icon to bring up a short popup menu to copy, move, delete, beam/send, or get info on the app. The info display has the basic app info plus the ability to change some basic file attributes.

The hi res graphics have been enhanced and overall stability improved. Facer picked up significant speed in the upgrade as well. The information icons got a balloon help-type operation with more useful data. The favorites bar may be populated either by drag & drop or tap and hold on an entry. The bar holds 5 favorites plus the fixed recent list, which displays up to 10 apps. Unfortunately, the favorites bar doesn't recognize apps in flash or on card on tap-and-hold, but you can drag them there.

One of my earlier complaints concerned the previous versions' fixed font color, making the icon labels virtually invisible against a dark background. That's now rectified nicely, plus the fonts even look better. The icon labels can even be shadowed now. The category tabs have more icons in this version from which to choose.

Most obvious to me the first time I opened 2.0, it now supports the newest devices and displays. This includes the T3 in both portrait and landscape modes, and UX50 landscape display.

Coded from scratch, Facer 2.02 really is the major upgrade that PocketCraft advertises, though many of the most significant changes lie beneath the surface. It can now be customized to a much greater degree. Previous users will easily transition to this version and be pleased with the upgrades. Planned development continues with an eye toward adding features and functionality. At $18.95, Facer offers a simple-to-use launcher combined with a powerful today application.

Pros :

Simple to use
Full T3 & UX50 support
Plug-in API for almost unlimited today page flexibility
More extensive theme flexibility/power

Cons :

Although a now at an acceptable level of power, the launcher is still pretty basic at this point


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