Android app review: Open Home

John Walton
Cell Phone Editor
Published: March 25, 2009

Of the Android home replacements I've tried Open Home wins the most unique customization award. Searching the Market for Open Home, you'll find twenty-or-so professionally-designed, extremely detailed skins that affect every nook and cranny of your seven home panels.

aHome currently has about twice as many available, but some are priced, whereas all Open Home skins are free. Unlike aHome's, Open home Icon sets can be changed independently of the skin, which is cool. And with specialized versions of other auxiliary apps (like Better Cut), Open Home probably offers the most additional features of the home replacements.

With the latest version, the folks at Better Android - creators of Open Home - have included some features of the Cupcake development branch of Android code. These include a portrait-mode-only keyboard that only works with Google search, and isn't all that usable. More interesting is the inclusion of live folders - a very practical and functional addition to your homescreen.

Live folders give you quick access to custom content - like only your favorite contacts. Tapping a name in the list takes you to the different methods of contact - cell, email, etc. Using the Open Home version of Anycut - or it's big brother, Better Cut, it's easy to make one-tap shortcuts for accomplishing a wide variety of activities.

A hide-able dock and button for drawing the soft keyboard are the most easily recognizable features differentiating Open Home from aHome, but you have to digg a bit deeper to see how different they feel. Both are worth trying. And both are dancing around Google's copy protection. Open Home owners got a surprise during last week's update when they found an Open Home force close causing an endless cycle of reboots from which there was no apparent escape.

Remember folks, MENU + POWER = SAFE MODE!

Never reset your device without trying that first.

Open Home is $2.99 in the Market, and will be $3.99 when more features are available. There is a lite version to demo. aHome is still my favorite, but it looks like more feverish coding is pulsing in the OH camp. I hope the competition grows more fierce.

Products mentioned