kerravonsen: Eighth Doctor's legs sticking out from underneath TARDIS console: "tea, tools, Tinkering" (tinkering)
[personal profile] kerravonsen

App folders are a way of de-cluttering your Android home page, and organising your apps into categories to make them easier to find. Now, some people prefer organising their app-drawer (the thing that comes up when you click on the Apps button) but I prefer to access my apps from the home page, because there are a lot of (pre-installed) apps in the app drawer that I'm just not interested in using; I just consider the app-drawer as a drawer that I only occasionally rummage in. Now, initially when I was organising my Droid, I would just put all the app-icons on different pages, loosely clustered by type. And while that has worked for some apps (the music, audiobook and verse-of-the-day widgets are all together on one page), usually the groups are either too small or too big to all fit together on one page, and there would end up being too many pages to easily navigate. So, app folders.

There are two styles of app folder: the single-icon type, and the scrolling type. The single-icon type takes up a 1x1 space on the page, and you click on it, and a window pops up which contains the icons in that folder. Then you can click on the desired icon to start that app. The scrolling type of folder takes up a larger amount of space -- anything from 2x1 to 4x4 -- and it becomes a scrollable window with the icons in it; to access the desired icon, you scroll up and down (or left to right, depending on the implementation, but it's usually up-and-down) until you find the icon and then click on it. There are advantages and disadvantages to both styles, and there are different implementations which have their own quirks. And I'm trying to decide which one(s) to use.

1. Nova Launcher native folder icons

For the single-icon type, this one is the best so far.

Pro:

  • there are two methods of making folders; I'm not sure if this is a pro or a con, especially since the two methods behave slightly differently.
    • method 1 is to put an icon on the desktop, then put another icon on the desktop and drag-and-drop it over the first icon. This can be used to add bookmarks, shortcuts and widgets to the folder as well.
    • method 2 is only available with Nova Pro. You go into Nova settings, click on "App & Widget drawers", scroll down to "Drawer groups", click on that, click on "Folders", click on the "+" button to add a new folder, then click on the new folder entry and scroll through the list of apps, selecting the ones to put into the folder. Then to put the folder onto the desktop, you go back out to the home page, click on the Apps button, and select the folder from the app drawer, and put it onto the desktop like it was an app. Rather convoluted! However, this has the advantage that the contents of the folder is remembered. Also, you can create nested folders by this method.
  • Once you have a folder actually on the desktop, you can alter the icon to anything (many folder implementations just give you a square icon with tiny icons inside it, which looks ugly)
  • can add a label (or have no label, if you prefer)
  • the icons inside the folder use the current icon pack
  • you can rearrange the order of the icons inside the folder to whatever you want
  • if you want to, you can configure folders to be dual-purpose: rather than tapping to open the folder, you can swipe to open the folder, and tap to activate the first app in the folder. That way, the icon can sneakily look like a normal app icon (since you can pick the icon and label so that it is identical to the first app) but it really has a folder hidden inside it.
    • this may be more confusing than useful, but it is still cool

Con:

  • If you remove a drag-and-drop folder from the page, you have to rebuild it by hand if you want it back again.
  • With a drawer-groups folder, you can only add apps and folders to it, not shortcuts or bookmarks or anything else.
  • Whenever you re-add a drawer-groups folder to the desktop, you have to customise the icon and gestures again.
  • the single-icon popup window doesn't scroll; it grows as big as however many icons there are in the folder (so you have to be careful in not having too many in one folder)
  • You can only close the folder by clicking elsewhere on the page (which sometimes is difficult if the folder is large)
  • Nova only offers the single-icon type, not the scrolling type.

2. Folder Organiser Lite

Provides both single-icon and scrollable.

Pro:

  • the grouping is done in the main app, by creating "labels" and adding apps to the label grouping
    • this means you don't lose the grouping if you remove the widget from the page
  • you can add an app to a label, or a label to an app, just by clicking selection boxes (I find this an easier way to organise them than just selecting apps to add to a group)
  • an app can be added to more than one label
  • you can add not only apps, but shortcuts, bookmarks etc to a label
  • while they do provide pre-defined labels, you can make up your own
  • the scrollable widget has an outline with a label - this makes it easier to see what the grouping is supposed to be
  • you can pick the colours of the outline-and-label of the scrollable widget (on the free version, this is global, on the paid version, this is per-grouping)
  • the single-icon popup window has a convenient X button to close it
  • you can pick the icon which will be used for the single-icon, from their defaults, from your own icon packs, from any icons it can find on your device.
  • you can resize the scrollable widget, thanks to Nova's resizing ability
  • you can alter the settings of a given widget by clicking on the "settings" icon which is inside with all the other icons (or you can disable the settings icon)

Con:

  • the single-icon popup window doesn't scroll; it grows as big as however many icons there are in the folder (so you have to be careful in not having too many in one label-category)
  • the icons inside the folder don't use the current icon pack; you can't choose the style of the icons at all
  • you can't choose the size of the icons either
  • you can't choose the size of the text
  • you can't rearrange the order of the icons inside the folder (they are alphabetical)
  • while you can select the single-icon icons from all your icons, it doesn't always find all the icons in a given icon-pack
  • the last release was in 2015, and the developer has been unresponsive since then; it may be unsupported.

3. Foldery Multicon Folder Widget

Provides only scrollable widget.

Pro:

  • the grouping is done in the main app, by creating "folders" and adding apps to the folder
    • this means you don't lose the grouping if you remove the widget from the page
  • you can select the widgets to be added to the folder by scrolling through a full-screen selection page which shows all the icons and labels of icons clearly, and clicking on the icons you want
    • and it removes the icons from the selection-page if they are already inside the given folder
  • you can resize the scrollable widget; this is built-in to the app, it doesn't rely on Nova's resizing. This means there are less likely to be glitches when it is resized.
  • you can alter the background of the scrollable widget, so that you can see that these widgets are grouped together (you can make it semi-transparent if you want)
  • you can pick what icon-pack to use for the icons inside the scrollable widget
  • you can pick the size of the icons inside the widget
  • you can choose whether to have labels on those icons or not
  • the most recent version was just a few days ago! (30th January 2017) and there is an active discussion group at http://foldery.urysoft.com

Con:

  • the labels on the icons inside the widget are too small and they get truncated
  • you can only add apps to the folders, not bookmarks or shortcuts
  • you can't rearrange the order of the icons inside the folder to whatever you want, you can only sort by name or by the order they were added to the folder
    • I don't really feel like removing all the icons and then adding them in a pre-defined order just to get the order I want, because the order I want depends on how they look together, though I suppose I could do it by a combination of removing apps as well as adding them.
  • you can't put a label on the scrollable widget
  • the "free" version is really only a taste-and-see version; you can only create one folder; I suppose that's fair enough, but it does render it pretty useless in the free version
  • while it's good that one can contribute "what you think it's worth" to get the premium version, it doesn't TELL you what the different options actually cost. Not until you click on them.
  • the buttons in the menu-bar at the top of the app are completely cryptic. What does a square grid have to do with "looking at Urysoft's apps"? What does does a circle with a triangle of dots inside it have to do with joining a Google group? I suppose the star has some meaning, to relate it to Premium, but a shopping cart or a dollar sign would be clearer.

4. Chameleon App Folders

Provides both single-icon and scrollable.

Pro:

  • the grouping is done in the main app, by creating "folders" and adding apps to the folder
    • this means you don't lose the grouping if you remove the widget from the page
  • The labels on the icons inside the scrollable widget are clear and can be seen easily (they aren't truncated)
  • you can alter the settings of a given widget by clicking on a little triangular button on the bottom right corner (or you can turn off this button if you prefer)
  • you can alter the style of the pop-up window for the single-icon widget; it can be a pop-up widget, it can be a sidebar, it can be a whole-window scrolling list, etc. Quite a few to choose from; that's pretty nifty.

Con:

  • you select the widgets to be added to the folder by scrolling through a small window, which doesn't show the full labels of the icons, so for some you can only go by the icon, but some have identical icons (like the Google app). So it makes it harder to pick them.
  • you can only add apps to the folders
  • you can't rearrange the order of the icons inside the folder to whatever you want; you can sort by name, by date, and, oddly, by "colour", which I'm not sure what that means
  • the scrollable widget doesn't have a label, nor can you put an outline around it nor change the background
  • the single-icon widget does have a label, but it is really far away from the actual icon
  • you can only pick the icon for the single-icon widget from a tiny selection of preview-style icons (e.g. a box, a plate, a folder etc)
  • there has only been one version, ever, and that was released in 2013; the developer has not responded to any reviews (!)

5. JINA App Drawer & Sidebar

While I'm not really interested in the "app drawer" or "sidebar" part of this, it also provides desktop app folders. Only provides single-icon folders, unfortunately.

Pro:

  • the grouping is done in the main app, by creating "tags" and adding apps to the tags; there are also automatic tags which are created based on the keywords used for the app on Google Play.
    • this means you don't lose the grouping if you remove the widget from the page
  • you can pick the icon which will be used for your own created tags, from their defaults, or from your own icon packs, or from the gallery
  • folders are created either by picking a tag (a "live folder") or populating the folder manually (and you can choose the icon for the folder, too). I'm not sure what the advantage of folders as distinct from tags is, except that one can add folders inside folders, whereas you can't have subcategories of tags.
  • you can select the apps to be added to the tag or folder by scrolling through a full-screen selection page which shows all the icons and labels of icons clearly, and clicking on the icons you want
    • you can also sort this in various ways, by name, by date etc
  • the single-icon popup window is very configurable; you can choose between grid and list view, and choose the sort order, within the popup window itself. The grid view does scroll if there isn't enough room for all the icons. And you can even resize the popup window (the standard size is a 4x3 grid, but you can make it smaller or larger).
  • recently updated (27 January 2017), and has a support forum.

Con:

  • You can't select the icons which appear in the popup window: they are all the default icons, nothing from your icon-packs.
  • you can only add apps or folders to the folders, not bookmarks or shortcuts
  • While you can select the single-icon icons from your icon-packs, it doesn't always find all the icons in a given icon-pack, and it doesn't find all the icon-packs either.
  • You can only close the folder by clicking elsewhere on the page (which sometimes is difficult if the folder is large).
    • however, you can resize the popup window if you like, so that's less of a problem than it might be
  • It only provides single-icon folders, not scrollable ones. Which is a pity.

And after all that, I still can't decide which I prefer. It isn't that none of them do exactly what I want... it's that I can't figure out exactly what I do want! Well, guess I'll just have to play around some more...

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