TSF Shell Pro – Customize your Android homescreen with this Eye-candy launcher app
Mar 6, 2012 9:53 AM –
TSF Shell Pro is a much hyped homescreen replacement launcher for Android. After a demo video of the app hit YouTube towards the end of last year (which you can find below), there has been a huge amount of interest in this breathtaking launcher. Boasting gorgeous UI, great shortcut management options, cool and interactive widgets and essentially a completely new way to interact with your Android, it was more than enough for the Android community as one to take notice of the indulgent eye-candy on display. I downloaded the app within about half an hour of its Market release and used it as my primary launcher since then. Here’s what I think…
Price: Around $17
Tested on: HTC Desire HD
Pros & Cons:
- Blistering UI!
- Customisable screens!
- Slick shortcut management!
- Only 4 homescreens.
- Counter-intuitive navigation.
- Few proper settings.
- Lack of themes.
- No landscape mode.
- Feels unfinished.
I have to admit I was excited about this one. The video below was all the Android community had to go on and TSF Shell Pro looked truly tantalizing. The beautifully smooth 3D rendering, gorgeous animations and fluid transitions looked to all but guarantee a genuinely ‘next-level’ experience. There were additional elements too that added to the appeal; you can gather app shortcuts and place them however you like, there were shiny and animated widgets that bounce off your screen and impressive multi-touch editing features. So, is this too good to be true? Does it deliver what it promises? And the price- what is all that about? Taking off my initially rose-tinted glasses this is what I made of it…
Straight away you notice it really is a gorgeous looking app. Moving your finger across the screen makes for some buttery and smooth transitions that are undeniably jaw-dropping. It really dazzles when you move the app screen (instead of an app-draw you have a dedicated screen); there are 6 different settings for this screen; from typical scrolling to the side to the eye-wateringly languid circular transitions. It would be the thing you show-off first and enough to make even iOS look woefully Luddite in comparison.
The widgets too have this delicious bouncy feel to them. There are three you can download separately: Music, Weather and Notes. The music one is sadly not quite like the flavour of the one shown in the video and is a little underwhelming. The weather one looks very smooth and you have a choice of background (tap it and a cityscape pops up). This looked good but wasn’t really my taste at all. The notes widget is nice and lets you write hand drawn notes and place them on your screen. These all look great in the video but perhaps a little underwhelming in practice.
Navigation is quite unlike anything you might have experienced before. The dock (if you want to call it that) is a hidden bar along the left hand side. You can plop a variety of shortcuts here and I put in about 8 apps I use the most: Gmail, Browser, Twitter, G+, Camera and so on… You then have a button in the bottom left hand corner which fans a deck showing your 4 additional screens. There’s no way to extend this number sadly and when using the app I quickly filled all four. These screens can be scrolled across and also look very neat. When you settle on one it opens up fully to let you access the apps.
Adding shortcuts is easy; simply hold down the shortcut from the app screen and then place it on any of the four screens you like. Once there you can perform a slew of relatively nifty tricks such as tilting the shortcut icon, grouping the shortcuts together into a preset order or even layering them on top of each other. Does anyone remember Bumptop? It was a luxury desktop launcher for Windows and was subsequently disappeared after being bought out by Google. The way you could manipulate shortcuts is a little similar to that.
Sadly though I was somewhat disappointed overall. There seems to be a number of features currently missing such as the ability to gather shortcuts together. The widgets look good but aren’t particularly functional. It doesn’t support live wallpapers. The app includes these weird little Halloween widgets that just sit on your homescreen not doing anything. It has only one theme and, while there’s scope for more via a MIUI/Go Launcher EX store, it currently contains none.
The thing about the app however that most took the shine off was the way it often feels counter-intuitive. In just about every launcher available on the market you sweep your finger from side to side to view your homescreens. In TSF Shell Pro you have to first tap the corner navigation button and then scroll through. As simple as this still sounds, it seems to go against all your instincts. You continue to try to scroll, then curse, then open the navigation button. This doesn’t really take any more time, it’s very speedy and feels great, but it feels very unnatural and slightly frustrating.
TSF Shell Pro is a phenomenally gorgeous launcher and certainly something that will undoubtedly make your jaw hit the floor when you start playing with it. But, behind the scenes, it lacks a great deal of functionality and basic intuitiveness. Whereas in most other launchers there is a dedicated ‘Launcher Settings’ menu, no such thing exists in TSF Shell Pro, such tweaks are incidental and rare. It is conceptually very different to anything you might have experienced before, even SPB Shell 3D is found wanting in the looks department, but maybe this is too big a leap, too much of a paradigm shift. There perhaps needs to be more familiar elements to it to help with the migration from something like HTC Sense, ADW Launcher EX or Go Launcher EX. It needs to be more customisable, include more widgets and be theme-able.
For a first release it’s a brilliant stab of Android gorgeousness, aesthetically it looks amazing. But for a functional day-to-day launcher it falls a little short. I have no doubt it will be improved upon, tweaked and updated but I think it’s perhaps too early to recommend that you throw seventeen bucks at it just yet.
Watch on Mobile
TSF Shell Pro – Basic homescreen set up, clock is separate
TSF Shell Pro – App screen
TSF Shell Pro – ‘Flaming’ apps are those which are newly downloaded
TSF Shell Pro – Tube transition
TSF Shell Pro – Cicular app transitions
TSF Shell Pro – Navigation between screens
TSF Shell Pro – Open folder
TSF Shell Pro – Side dock
TSF Shell Pro – Shortcut management options
TSF Shell Pro – Weather and Music widgets
TSF Shell Pro – Open music widget
TSF Shell Pro – Notes widgets
TSF Shell Pro – Weather settings
It works as a launcher, so in that regard it does what it says on the tin. However, it’s quite unlike anything we have seen before. And, while I am a massive fan of doing things differently with originality and innovation, new solutions still need to be intuitive. TSF Shell Pro isn’t quite there yet.
Ease of Use:
Once you get used to the navigation, it’s quite easy to use. Initially, however, it feels like it is going against your entire Android experience so far. The rich graphics make it an absolute joy to use at first but, when you need an app quickly it always takes a moment or two to remember where it is and how to get to it. It’s that delay that, when you’re in a rush, is a real killer and very frustrating.
If you go with this and fully adopt the launcher, it’s obviously something you’d use on a very regular basis.
The interface is dazzlingly beautiful yet often nail-bitingly counter-intuitive. Once you get over the striking looks, it feels wholly impractical at times. It shows graft, innovation and a genuine potential to be something truly mind-blowing, but it doesn’t quite feel like the finished product.
, ADW Launcher EX
, Android App
, Android Apps
, AndroidTapp.com App Review
, Custom Android Home Screen
, Customize Home Screen
, go launcher ex
, Launcher Apps
, SPB Shell 3D
, TSF Shell Pro
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