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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 2)

AppShelf 1.1

Another new entry to the Palm launcher field, AppShelf hails from the Sony world. This lineage becomes readily apparent when trying to navigate the features on a T3. The author, H. Imazeki, has a long line of quality apps to his credit. These include McFile (big brother of CliéFiles), HiResFont Mapper, CodeDiver, and a host of Desk Accessories (DAs). He enjoys somewhat iconic status in the Clié community.

AppShelf's primary concern seems to be appearance, at which it succeeds marvelously. This app can be set up to be the most attractive launcher on the market. The task, however, can be daunting if you don't speak Japanese. The setup proved anything but intuitive. It seems to be targeted specifically for 320x480 and 480x320 screens, as the full functionality wouldn't be practical on smaller screens.

Some features require Sony hardware. These include directly importing JPegs for backgrounds and clips, as well as using small fonts in the main display (e.g., app icon labels). You could also use DT Changer or CodeDiver to set a background scheme, but a good grasp of Japanese wouldn't hurt those efforts either. Go here for a useful site in English that can help a bit with this and other features.

AppShelf breaks the screen into sections, each configurable individually. The module panel can include a number of fixed elements that add value to the user. These elements include a calendar, clock (digital & analog), appointments, tasks, app icon panel, a small image clip, and a clear area. Each of these can be configured to some extent. Tapping on the clip will display the image full-screen.

The main display holds the standard launcher fare. Apps can be shown with a large or small icon display, or in a list mode with large or small icons. All the colors can be customized so that the text will be visible against a variety of backgrounds. The icon arrangements stay with individual tab, so that different tabs can have their own icon layouts.

AppShelf sports a favorites bar. It comes with the standard PIMs prepositioned on the bar. To place apps on the bar, simply drag them there. To remove them, just drag them off. The bar itself is thin enough not to interfere with the main launcher display.

Upon install, AppShelf does not import the categories from the Palm launcher. This requires the user to create their categories and then categorize all apps from scratch. Apps categorize by dragging them over the displayed category name and releasing them. The category list will then appear for the user to pick the category in which to move the app. Apps can exist in more than one category. One major oversight concerns card support—there isn’t any. Unlike most launchers, apps on the card cannot be mixed in categories with apps in RAM, although you can create multiple categories for card apps. This puts AppShelf on the level of the built-in Palm launcher and presents a major shortcoming.

Part of AppShelf's visual attractiveness lies in its wallpaper and image clip capabilities. On Sony Clies, it can import JPegs directly. On other devices, AppShelf requires several DAs to capture screens to use. This proved problematic, as the DAs crashed several image viewer apps, including Acid Image, before I found Palm's included Picture Viewer would work. At least on the Palm, only one background and clip could be saved at a time.

That's pretty much the story on AppShelf. For $12, you get probably the potentially best looking launcher with about the least actual launcher functionality. Sony users will get the most from its customizability.

Pros :

Very attractive display
Supports background images and clips

Cons :

Very Sony-centric
Adds little launcher functionality beyond the built-in





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