Android app review: aHome

John Walton
Cell Phone Editor
| March 21, 2009

I've tried various versions/incarnations of all of the Android home replacements I'm aware of: dxTop, Open Home, and aHome. I settled on aHome lite as my favorite because it was exactly that - lite. There were a couple of handsome, practical widgets, and the battery monitor and weather widget sat on my primary panel. dxTop's dual tabs for the app library and running programs made more sense than a dedicated widget button, but aHome  had a dock and allowed me an entire extra row for icons. I was happy.

Then I had to upgrade aHome, and found my carefully-organized and categorized icons had been erased. Not. cool. I never saw the full, priced version of aHome in the Market, so I decided to search online. I purchased the full version via Paypal at the dev's website, and got an .apk in my email. So does this mean I can't upgrade via the Market and Android's useful built-in version-checking? So far, the answer is yes. This should be remedied. The upside to this arrangement is that I was drawn to their message board that is quickly becoming a community.

I had rebuilt my four homescreens for aHome Lite before buying, and was sad to find they didn't transfer over to the full version. So, I set about getting things back in order again. The first thing I noticed is that the weather widget (which is now cached and doesn't need to reload when you swipe back to it's panel) looked much worse than it did before. the aHome Lite version had a classy, subdued hue. And while you can now change the weather background, your choices are limited to blinding bright colors that don't go well with any aHome theme. Yikes. Back to Moxier world. The Battery Monitor widget still looks good though.

The second problem is that my apps menu seems to take longer to load. It's jittery - even after a fresh boot with no background apps. Is that because of the new background? Black looks better anyway, I think. I'm complaining because I'm a fan of the product, and I think the devs made a few mistakes here. Still, the new version adds faster homescreen loading, naming and setting a panel indicator symbol, and prompt for Google voice. Auto-rotate for accelerometer output is fully functional in this version as well, which takes care of Open Home's primary advantage (I'll get to the Open Home Cupcake stuff in my review of that program).

: Useful widgets; makes more sense than default Android home; I can now export and import all of my aHome settings, which is something the Android team should consider; auto-rotate without sliding the screen; I might actually start using drawers for review apps, instead of *another* panel.

: Blechy widget themes and background/load time for the app library.

Verdict: If aHome is your favorite home replacement, the full version is worth the $4.99. You need to keep an eye on mAPPn as well. They've got some cool stuff coming out for iPhone too. 

Products mentioned