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PreCentral: The webOS Wish List: Launcher customization


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The webOS Wish List: Launcher customization

Back in the days of webOS 1.x, it was possible through the magic of homebrew to alter the webOS app launcher in any number of ways. There were dozens of patches to change the spacing between apps, the size of app icons, the number of rows and columns and whether or not your apps had names and how big those names were… And then webOS 2.0 came out. It brought a fancy new natively-coded app launcher that while faster and smoother and more reliable was also impossible to patch without replacing the entire package.

The beauty of the 1.x launcher was that it was coded in HTML5, CSS, and JavaScript like the rest of webOS. It was just another app as far as the phone was concerned, just one that you used to launch all other apps. It was easy to write up a patch to change a few lines of that code and suddenly have four columns and five rows of apps instead of the traditional three by four webOS view.

The uncustomizable launcher carried on into webOS 3.0 to an even greater degree. Unless they go through a not-as-easy-as-patching process, TouchPad owners can't even change the names of their launcher tabs, let alone create new pages or change the spacing of app icons. It's utterly preposterous that we're stuck with nonsensically named tabs like "Apps", "Downloads", and "Favorites". Shouldn't the favorites tab be the first one? And aren't all of the launcher pages populated by apps, not just the first? And am I supposed to leave every app I've downloaded under the Downloads tab, or is it acceptable practice to move them somewhere else, like "Favorites"? It might take more code to make adding, removing, moving, and renaming launcher pages a possibility, but the TouchPad launcher scheme was unacceptable when the tablet launched, and it's even more so today more than a year after the TouchPad was announced.

So here's what needs to happen (feel free to roll all of this into Open webOS). The launcher needs to have customizable pages. As with webOS 2.x, the page names must be renamable and the pages themselves reorderable. This is a bare minimum. If we can't do that, just dump the whole tabs scrolling launcher pages concept and put us into the paginated world of iOS and Android (hint: that's not what we want). The next step is to enable customization of spacing and icon size. Some people want big icons that are well-spaced, others prefer a tightly-packed layout that fits as many icons on a page as possible. For most the TouchPad's icon spacing works fine, but on webOS smartphones like the bigger-screened Pre3 it's silly to be stuck to just three icons across on a page.

Have your own thoughts on this or any other entry? You do, we get it. That's why we have the comments, it's your place to say how right - or how wrong - we are. And we have little doubt you have your own ideas as to what ought be on the webOS wish list, and so - and an awesome discussion it has proven to be.

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