In the world of Android apps, launcher apps (or alternative home screen apps, or skins, call them what you will) are a dozen a penny. Indeed, one of the main attractions of Android to many people is the fact that you can change the interface of a handset as per your whims and fancies, and of course, the apps available. While most launcher apps (that’s what we will be calling them right through this review) confine themselves to offering you different icons, fonts and wallpapers, some go well below this surface scratching and try to change your whole Android experience. And one of these is EverythingMe. Known earlier as Everything.Me, the app has now moved out of beta territory, and has not only dropped the ‘dot’ from its name, but remains as innovative as ever.
At the heart of EverythingMe is what a lot of people are terming the “contextual” approach to app development. In simple English, apps whose behavior changes as per the time and place they are used. EverythingMe on the surface, seems to be your routine launcher with five homescreens, app folders, and four shortcuts and an app drawer at the bottom. Stare more closely, however, and you will notice that the app greets you according to the time of the day – “Good morning,” “Good afternoon,” etc. Cast also a glance at the row of apps which is right above the four fixed ones at the base of the launcher or if you cannot see it, simply flick the clock that appears in that space upwards. This reveals what the developers call the Prediction Bar, which tries to guess the apps you are likely to be using depending on your time and location. So if you wake up, it is a fair chance you will be shown a link to the news, if you go to work (and have marked a location as such in Google Maps), it will show you your calendar and in the evening, well, I got a link to the Comixology app, among others. It takes some time to get accustomed to your schedule and habits, but once it does, its app guesses are more often right than wrong.
Even the folder arrangement which seems routine on the surface, actually has a twist to it. EverythingMe automatically arranges your apps into what it calls Smart Folders. So your social networking apps go into the Social folder, news apps into the News folder and so on. However, tapping on a folder not only reveals the apps that EverythingMe has clubbed under that topic, but also links to other websites that contain relevant or similar information. So clicking on the social folder on our Nexus showed not just the Facebook, Twitter and other SNS apps on our device, but also showed up links to other websites that offered similar services – Tumblr, Flickr and the like – arrange in the form of icons, again with an appropriate image in the background. You can increase of decrease the number of Smart Folders and arrange them across the different homescreens, change their names and even add and remove apps from them. We would advise letting them be, however, as they are rather useful – you can anyway access your “regular” app arrangement by hitting the app drawer icon in the launcher.
And then there is our favorite feature – the search. Not only does the app keep showing options while you are keying in your query in the search box which is on top of the primary homescreen but the search results actually are displayed in the form of a number of links on the phone as well as the Web. So if I search for a friend, not only will it show the apps in which his/her name appears (contacts, messages, mail, etc.) but will also pull out information from the Web and present the links in icon form on the homepage – so you could have links to their blog, their Facebook profiles, their Tweets, articles written by them and so on, all topped off with their slightly blurry picture in the background. Pretty spectacular, we think.
For all of that, EverythingMe is not likely to be everyone’s cup of tea, especially not those for whom their launchers are an attitude statement or those who do not want a launcher auto-classifying their apps or rearranging them. And of course, there will be users who will point out that they do not want their launcher suggesting apps to them – they know which apps which they use at different times of the day. We also did detect a heavier battery drain on our Nexus 4, while using the app.
All of which does not detract from the fact that EverythingMe is definitely one of the more innovative launchers around and one of the few that actually tries to deliver additional information to you in an interesting manner. No, we won’t go as far as to say that this is the future of smartphones, but we can see a lot of information junkies liking this. As of now, we certainly are fascinated.
Available from: Google Play