A new home screen replacement for Android is starting to make the rounds. It’s called Claystone and it features a 3D user interface with integrated apps for viewing photos, videos, files and other content. You can download the latest beta from the xda-developers forum.
The main screen features a window with series of shortcuts for launching apps, viewing running or recent apps, or browsing for media, email or news. Claystone also includes its own contact manager and photo and video viewers.
There are two features that make the app really interesting. First, when you open a new window such as the app launcher or contact list, you can flip between the home screen and the secondary window by swiping left or right. There are slick 3D transitions when you slide between windows.
The other interesting component is the media bar above the launcher window which shows photos, local videos, YouTube videos, or home screen widgets. You can click on these thumbnails to make them larger and then flick left or right to move between the widgets.
Claystone is still a work in progress and there are a few things about the app that are still rather awkward. While you can add home screen widgets to the media bar at the top of the screen, it seems you can only choose one widget per window. The bigger problem is that you only see a tiny thumbnail icon for each widget before clicking on it — which kind of defeats the purpose of widgets that are supposed to let you see weather, news, or other information at a glance.
It also takes a little while to launch some of the apps such as the contact list or media browsers. But that’s why the developers have launched a public beta rather than a full build. Claystone’s not yet available in the Android Market, but if you’re interested in checking out the beta, the developers are still looking for feedback.
You can also check out my brief hands-on video after the break.