The Unofficial HTC Thunderbolt APPLICATION REPLACEMENT thread! (bye bye Stock Apps!)
This is a discussion on The Unofficial HTC Thunderbolt APPLICATION REPLACEMENT thread! (bye bye Stock Apps!) within the HTC Thunderbolt Apps forums, part of the HTC Thunderbolt Forum category; This thread is intended as a suggestion box for replacement of the stock Sense apps and/or the stock Sense Home screen launcher. If you have ...
The Unofficial HTC Thunderbolt APPLICATION REPLACEMENT thread! (bye bye Stock Apps!)
This thread is intended as a suggestion box for replacement of the stock Sense apps and/or the stock Sense Home screen launcher. If you have your own suggestions, please post them in the thread.
I was inspired to create this thread because I'm a huge fan of AOSP roms like CM7, Liquid Thunderbread, and OMFGB. Since these ROMs are built ground-up from the Android Open Source Project, none of the stock apps are included. The single biggest reason I see people uninstall AOSP roms is because they "miss" something about Sense or the stock ROM.
However, the truth is that almost every Sense app can be easily replaced with other apps that you'll like as much if not more the stock apps. You just don't know about them.
Also, my overall philosophy when it comes to Paid Apps is that I'm willing to pay a developer $1-$3 if the App is worth it. I love free apps as much as the next guy (and I list plenty of them!) but I'm not going to regret spending $2 on a quality app. That's less money than you'll spend on a Quarter Pounder w/ Cheese at McDonald's and it will last you for years. If cost is a concern to you, budget yourself a reasonable amount like $10 and just pick and choose the best.
Building the foundation
If you are not rooted, just skip to the next section. It is entirely possible for a "stock" non-rooted user to use all of these apps to replace Sense or any of the stock apps. While this is not ideal, because your stock app then becomes bloat, it's certainly still a great option if you don't want to void your warranty.
Assuming you are rooted, your first real decision is to decide on what ROM you want to use for a foundation. You really have three choices: AOSP, Stripped, or a Sense ROM. An AOSP rom is the cleanest slate and doesn't include any of the Verizon or HTC apps or widgets. Very lean and very fast. A Stripped ROM includes many of HTC apps, usually the lockscreen and dialer, but not the Sense launcher. And finally, a Sense ROM is pretty close to a stock ROM with some customizations and little to no Verizon bloat.
First, it's worth pointing out that HTC Widgets only work with the Sense Launcher. So, if you want an HTC Widget, you need to use Sense. But again, that's pretty much the whole point of this thread -- what are the alternatives if you don't want to use those stock apps and widgets?
Any ROM you install, including AOSP roms, will have the basic function apps. It will have a gallery, video player and browser. Just like it will have a clock, contacts, dialer, lockscreen, mail and messaging app. It will have a calendar, calculator, and music app as well. I would also expect it to have a news app and possibly a flashlight. There are also replacement apps for all of these things, I'm just not going to cover most of those in detail because they are pretty common.
All Google apps (Maps, Search, Street View, Youtube) are available on the Market if there are not included in your ROM. In addition, you can also download Adobe Reader and Adode Flash for free off the market.
Sense Launcher (aka Rosie) or Home Replacement?
The second real decision you are going to need to make is whether or not you plan to use the stock Sense Launcher. In my (very biased) opinion, Sense is the best 'out-of-the-box' launcher but it is not a full featured launcher. A replacement launcher can give you full control and customization of your home screen.
For example, I like to have 5 launcher buttons at the bottom of my screen. Phone, Email, App Drawer, Texts, and Browser. The stock Sense option has three: App Drawer, Phone, Personalization. I also like to have an extra widget row. So my screen can has space to fit 4 widgets x 5 widgets rather than the stock Sense default of 4 widgets x 4 widgets. For more launcher customization examples, please reference this thread that I wrote about ADW EX Launcher.
The major home replacement options are:
ADW Launcher - The paid version of this launcher (ADW EX) is my launcher of choice. Large number of free and paid themes available on the market. The paid version is arguably the most robust launcher in terms of customization options but it lacks the "Sense-like" widgets available with the other launchers.
Launcher Pro - The free version is very similar to the free ADW Launcher. The paid version is a bit less robust in terms of customization than the paid version of ADW. However, it includes a lot of really nice widgets that are similar to some of the ones you will see in stock a Sense ROM (for example, the People Widget). Also, I have not purchased or used it myself, but there is a Sense Widget Pack available for LPP on the Market that supposedly provides the major Sense widgets you might otherwise be missing.
GO Launcher EX - Widely considered the best of the free launchers. The standout feature of this app to me is that the same developer has written a lot of free widget apps and plugins for it. This is the same dev team that writes all the GO Apps (GO SMS Pro, GO Contacts, GO Weather). In the interest of full disclosure, there have been some outspoken devs that claim GO Apps collect too much information anonymously (notably jcase) and other people who have investigated that claim and disagreed.
SPB Shell 3D - This one doesn't make my recommendation list because at $14.95 it's VERY EXPENSIVE! In fairness, it's not just a launcher and includes a lot of additional widgets and apps that you won't find in the other launchers (CLICK HERE for Screenshots). I include it primarily because SPB is well known on other platforms as one of the better replacement apps.
Clocks, Weather, & other Look/Feel style apps
Beautiful Widgets (free and paid) - Perhaps the most well known, recommended and purchased of the widget apps, this paid app includes a vast selection of clock, battery, weather and toggle widgets through it's user database of themes and skins.
Fancy Widgets (free and paid) - Almost as well known and very similar to Beautiful Widgets. In my opinion, between the paid versions, BW is simply better. But they both have free versions, so try them both out and decide for yourself.
Minimalist Text (free) - An extremely versatile and clean widget. You can use it for a clock, weather, or battery. Or you can use it to launch apps, toggle settings or even just display words. There is a bit of a learning curve, but I see more people ask about how someone did "X" in a screenshot and the answer is this app than perhaps anything else. Some people have used this in combination with "SMS Unread Count" widget to create some amazing effects.
Desktop VisualizeR (quasi-free) - Another extremely versatile and steep learning curve app for your homescreen. In some ways, this is similar to Minimalist Text, but it's more suited towards making amazing graphical effects than clean text. It's quasi-free because the tools that allow you to more easily make modifications are paid apps.
Zoom (paid) - By the same developer as Tasker, he should have named this app "Build-A-Widget" instead. Similar to both Minimalist Text and Desktop VisualizeR, what makes this app unique is the layering of elements to create a more unique looking widget. The other advantage if you are a Tasker user is the ability to integrate with Tasker profiles. I would consider this the steepest of the learning curves and not for the faint of heart. Valuable if you own and are familiar with Tasker.
Smart Shortcuts / Apps Organizer - Smart Shortcuts is one of those apps that I love and rarely see anyone else using. It's a great app and significantly reduces the amount of space I use for icons on my homescreen. It allows me to organize apps, bookmarks, contacts, and files by "Folders" with a custom label and icon. Once I have them organized, I can place the shortcuts anywhere and even back them up to restore on my next ROM install. Apps Organizer is similar with less options.
Other notable app replacements:
HTC People Widget - My personal preference is to use the built-in contact shortcuts in ADW Ex Launcher over a widget, so this is not something I have replaced. And as I mentioned, GO Launcher has a free download and the paid version of Launcher Pro includes this widget. However, if you like HTC's People widget, GO Contacts offers similar functionality for free. There is also another app that works with well with ADW. There are others, just do a Market search for Contacts or People widget.
HTC Mail - I happen to like the stock Google Mail program that comes with Gingerbread. That said, in my opinion, the best free email program on the market is K-9 Mail. In fact, the only thing I don't like about this app is the icon. Which, thanks to your replacement launcher, can be easily changed to a more suitable icon. If you prefer to spend money, Kaiten Mail is an option and at the very expensive spectrum, you have MailDroid (trial, free version linked). Supposedly, if you are having corporate email problems, MailDroid is the best alternative. If you are a Corporate Exchange user, Touchdown for Exchange comes VERY highly recommended. It's worth pointing out that Touchdown is not just a Mail app since it also synchs your Exchange Calendar, Task List, and Contacts.
Browser - I haven't been super impressed with any of the browsers. That said, I personally use Dolphin HD Browser which is marginally better than the stock browser because it supports tabs and gestures. Dolphin Mini Browser (same developer) is also popular and supports tabs and gestures. Mini is a little less robust and minimalistic in that it doesn't provide support for Dolphin add-ons and themes. Slightly less popular but more well-known on other platforms is Skyfire Browser. Skyfire's claim to fame has traditionally been speed because they reprocess images and videos by resizing them to a smaller mobile size on their servers before sending them to you. Helps considerably on 3g, but in a 4g area you might actually find that approach to be slower as you wait on their servers to provide you the image. This browser is particularly popular on the iPhone because it converts Flash to HTML5 on the servers as well. We have Flash natively on Android, so that's yet another reason why this browser might be more popular on other phones.
Text Messaging - I've had a love/hate relationship with the stock Messaging apps. I hated them, now I actually love and prefer them. Go figure. In any event, I tried most of the major ones. The most popular two seem to be Handcent SMS and then the equally popular GO SMS Pro by the previously mentioned GO Apps developer. In distant third is ChompSMS. Try all three is my recommendation.
Friendstream / Peep / Flickr - The very closest thing offered on the market as a replacement is T-Mobile Social Buzz. Ironically, while released by T-Mobile, this is a universal app that will work on the HTC Thunderbolt, a Verizon phone. It does require a seperate install of T-Mobile Social Service to work, but it works flawlessly. Social Buzz provides an integrated Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, and MySpace experience. Other alternate apps include Pulse, Friendcaster, Tweetcaster, and Seesmic. Also, if you happen to be using GO Launcher, there is a nice 4x4 widget for Facebook. And Plume has a nice 4x4 widget for Twitter.
Lockscreen Replacement - Everyone loves that Sense 3.0 lockscreen. I like it as well. But there are LOTS of equally amazing and fantastic lockscreen options using WidgetLocker. This is a paid app, but one of those that is worth the money if you want a more interesting lockscreen. Before buying, I strongly recommend taking a look at the WidgetLocker Theme thread on XDA to browse for potential ideas and WL themes. However, if you really can't live without that Sense 3.0 lockscreen, there is a free app on the Market which is strikingly similar: Agile Lock Free (a Sense 3.0 Lockscreen clone)
Keyboard Replacement - I consider the big three alternate keyboards to be: Flex T9, Swype, and Swiftkey X. Swype is a "trace" technology where the user drags his finger from letter to letter to form words. It takes a bit of getting used to it, but it's fast. The world record for texting was set using Swype. Flex T9 is made by the company who does Dragon Speech text recognition. They have three alternate input methods. Speech to text, trace (like Swype) and Write. This is my personal choice and I find the word prediction and tracing is smoother in Flex T9. Swiftkey X doesn't offer an alternate input method and it's claim to fame is built upon it's word prediction technology that learns to predict the next word you'll type. Other honorable mentions include GO Keyboard, Smartkeyboard and Better Keyboard.
Camera - If you are running an AOSP rom, a lot of people seem to like the MIUI Camera (search any CM7 thread). I would recommend reading this article for some additional options. Vignette appears to be popular. While it doesn't include a Camcorder, I personally really find Camera 360 Free to be a great camera. It has a lot of great built-in effects. Action Snap is a fun little app because it takes multiple snapshots in as little as .1 second intervals. For the more serious minded photographer, HDR Camera supposedly takes the best picture but it's SLOW because it actually takes three shots and then does some type of photomagic.
Calendar - There are lots of calendar apps available and there isn't much special about the stock app. I don't use a Calendar myself, but the most widely recommended one is Jorte. Also suggested is To Do List, which is a simple Task List.
Music - Like the Calendar, there are lots of Music apps and not much special about either of the stock apps. I, personally, like Google Music. Another popular app is doubleTwist Player because you can download a PC app to synch your Windows Media and iTunes. Personally, I uninstalled doubleTwist after reading the Privacy legal document (they own your first born). Another option is PowerAmp which has a free trial.
Quick Office - The paid version is still available on the market. The stock version is very limited (you can't even copy/paste). A nice free alternative is Google Docs.
Stocks - Another Google app, Google Finance, makes a great replacement for the stock HTC application.
News - The previously mentioned Pulse is very solid as News app. The AOSP roms also come with a stock News & Weather. There are lots of apps that fit this need on the market.
Footprints - I have never used this app very seriously, so I can't honestly offer a replacement. If anyone has any suggestions, I'll be sure to add it.
FM Radio - There are quite a few Internet radio apps, including TuneIn Radio, that provide internet streaming of local and not-so-local radio stations. However, the stock FM Radio is real radio and uses your headphone jack as an antenna. If you need that functionality, try Spirit FM Radio.
Last edited by sidsixseven; 08-01-2011 at 10:06 AM.
07-25-2011 07:17 PM
Jorte is a great calendar app. It has 25 different widgets to choose from plus it's free.
Sent from my ADR6400L using Tapatalk
I like to use To Do List from "GingerPenguin" as a reminder/agenda app. The widget is extremely useful and the UI is very userfriendly (sometimes I feel it's too dumbed down lol)
Here's a screen shot of the 2 sizes widgets that it comes with
Shoot for the moon, even if you miss you're still amongst those stars.
Fantastic write-up, Sid. Just rooted for the first time and flashed CM7 the other day so this was a very timely post. Loving CM7 but how easy would it be to uninstall ADW launcher and replace with GO Launcher EX?
For a mail replacement, I hear Touchdown is a good one for corporate exchange mail (if you're having problems).
Btw, new user/first post.
Nicely done, Sid. I would add that in my (biased) opinion, AOSP offers more substance than Sense style. For example, my roomie's T'bolt is unrooted and he relies on Android Manager, which I don't need because my rooted T'bolt's ROMs include all, or most of, those tools. Anyway, my contributions to the essential app drawer . . .
FM-Radio: Spirit FM Radio (free at the Market). FM-Radio is a BFD to some of us, and having it now is one of the few consolations for me of giving up my Nexus S.
Notes/Notepad: I prefer Notepad for a good basic app that lets you get right to composing your note with the fewest taps (like, two, I think). NoteEverything is cool in that it has color free-hand (-finger?) drawing as well as text notes. (Both free at the Market.)
My Thunderbrick runs baseband 1.46 [yadda-yadda]
currently Liquid Thunderbread 2.4 (from 2.3 and 2.2)
formerly BAMF Stripped 2.1 (from Froyo 1.8.6)
Im finnaly trying handcent and so far I like it. Tomorrow I'm going to put it to the test. Haha I have already uninstalled my stock message app cause it was LaGgInG....
HTC THUNDERBOLT:ROOTED DAS BAMF 3.0 RC 4.9 AND OVERCLOCKED!
Great work Sid!
+1 for Jorte - Most customizable calendar out there plus free to boot!
Honestly, the only 2 things I miss from a non-AOSP ROM is the stock HTC Contacts(People) and the Camera.
I really liked everything the HTC Contacts did and how it did it. I've been trying the different available apps but just haven't been as pleased. I've only just started messing with the different cameras available. I had tried Camera 360 when I had my DX but was pretty pleased with the Stock one on the Bolt. I'll still have to play with the other ones.
Other than that, there are so many different options to use it's fun just giving them a try.
Are you actually using Spirit FM Radio? I know it works on the Incredible and several other HTC phones but I haven't tried it on the Thunderbolt and I know it doesn't work on all phones. I also have a suspicion that you could backup FM Radio in Titanium Backup on a Sense ROM and restore it later. I haven't tried either option, so I wasn't going to offer that advice in the OP. If you can confirm it works for me, I'll add it to the list in the original post.
Originally Posted by Zed
I've seen that one recommended several times, I just couldn't recall the name of it. I knew you folks would chime in! I'll add to the list in the first post a bit later this week. I just want to see what other feedback people have on other alternative apps before making an update to the OP.
Originally Posted by chucklehead
I've heard that as well. I'll add it to the list.
Originally Posted by Fizeq
I don't think the stock phone has a task list, but perhaps it should, eh? I'll add it to the list.
Originally Posted by AlachSB
Super easy to install a new launcher. Just install GO Launcher EX over ADW Launcher and press the home screen to select a new launcher. If, for some reason, the option to switch doesn't pop up -- download Home Switcher (works on Froyo and Gingerbread). You can uninstall Home Switcher after you've made the change.
Originally Posted by Fizeq
Uninstalling the old launcher is going to depend on the ROM you are using. For example, Liquid Thunderbread provides an uninstall option in Liquid Settings for the default Launcher Pro. You asked about CM7 specifically and the recommended method is to "FREEZE" the app in Titanium Backup rather than uninstall it. This has the same net effect but keeps ADW available to "UNFREEZE" if you decide you want to use a different launcher.
If you want to get rid of it forever, you can do it through the terminal:
mount -o remount,rw /system
pm uninstall com.android.launcher
One thing you'll notice is that in CM7, ADWSettings may still be integrated under the settings menu. Uninstalling or Freezing ADW won't remove this from the setting option, because it's built into CM7. However, it won't do anything and is just cosmetic. It's just a "link" or "shortcut" that doesn't have anywhere to go. If it bothers you, you can try a different AOSP rom (Liquid Thunderbread is very nice). I haven't use a different launcher than ADW or ADW EX with CM7, so I can't confirm if this issue still exists or not.
Yea I feel like it should and the reason I like that specific app is because it requires NO permissions to install, how an task list widget should be =)
Shoot for the moon, even if you miss you're still amongst those stars.
Nice writeup! I think Google Reader is a nice replacement for a news app alongside Pulse.
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