Of all the home launcher replacement apps we’ve seen on Android – and there’s been a few – Open Gesture Pro easily qualifies as one of the most innovative and ambitious.
Although it allows you to customise your home screens with shortcuts and widgets – just as you would in the default launcher – the app’s real selling point is the touch-screen gesture shortcut system. This allows you to draw shapes which automatically open up associated applications.
Open Gesture Pro comes pre-loaded with several of these shortcuts already in place. For example, doodling an ‘m’ opens your messaging, while a crude ‘g’ will kick-start your Gmail app – at least that’s the idea. During our test we noticed that some programs – Gmail included – stubbornly refused to open up.
It must be noted that you have to replicate the gesture exactly for it to be recognised. This can cause problems, especially when you’re dealing with letters or shapes which can be drawn in several different ways; for example, the a small-case ‘a’ can be created using a different pattern, although the end result looks exactly the same. Open Gesture Pro doesn’t take the final image into account, but rather the manner in which it is drawn.
Mercifully, it’s possible to configure your own shortcuts based on your own gestures, so you can be 100% sure the way you doodle is the correct way. Assigning gestures to applications and other activities is a relatively painless experience, but again we noticed that some apps refused to play ball and remained close even when we’d repeatedly drawn the symbol assigned to them.
Putting aside the drawing side of things for moment, Open Gesture Pro boasts five home screens which can be tailored to suit your personal taste, just as you would with the default launcher. Opening your app drawer is handled by a button in the bottom-right corner of the screen, but it operates a little differently from the stock drawer.
You can sort your apps alphabetically, or in terms of popularity (based on how many times you’ve used them). This is a great idea, and one we hope to see incorporated by other launcher replacements in the future.
Unfortunately, it’s hard to recommend Open Gesture Pro at this stage, purely because it doesn’t work quite as well as we’d like. There are also issues with menu text being cropped off and unreadable, as well as a general sluggishness that can making navigating around your phone a tiring experience.
If the developer can clean up the code and getting it working a little more reliably – as well as tinkering with the gesture recognition so it will accept final shapes rather than how they are drawn – then it will be worth looking into, but at the moment we wouldn’t ditch LauncherPro for this.