Sunday April 14, 2019

I feel excited about KLWP since I’ve realized that it is highly probable that I could replace several standalone apps - by using this single one. Moreover, I could make my Android experience even more convenient because with KLWP it should be possible to replace more elements of Android GUI explicitly to my own needs (e.g., enlarge & dark-theme).

So, after some playing with KLCK themes I couldn’t wait to start with KLWP - in order to find out is it all really possible to achieve? Now I am happy to tell You, that - indeed - it is possible, and to a high degree :) .

Like in the recent case of my KLCK preset, this time also I’d like to conduct a little bit of a survey through everything I’ve done. So, let’s get started. But before we go over through all of it, I’d like to tell You about one initial confusion I stumbled upon while learning KLWP potential.

Live wallpaper confusion.

Viewing various presets made by other users I’ve noticed that there is usually no place dedicated for traditional Android desktop icons (!). If I applied some preset, the icons which have been already present on my desktop - weren’t looking good, because they interfered with the preset itself, didn’t match to it. So I’ve begun to wonder: what about traditional icons and widgets? Am I supposed to resign from all of those? Though I’ve realized that I can take whatever way I want - I was wondering what could be the best? For example, I remember Brandon Craft telling that he would rather prefer the traditional way of organizing icons within Android launcher itself - than rendering all of them in a form of live wallpaper’s elements. I suppose this is a thing of individual preference: one could prefer using more traditional solution while someone else - a completely new approach, which - on the beginning - could overawe You a little bit.

I was wondering on the matter for a while and came to the conclusion that in my particular case it would be better to resign from as many icons and widgets as possible. What made me think so is that I have weaker vision, including weak tolerance to anything which is bright-colored. So for me both larger and dark UI elements are pretty welcomed :) .

I was very happy that in fact I can resign of almost every widget I’ve been using so far, because of KLWP being able to render their features (! - it is so nice :) ). The only things I can’t resign are Meditation Assistant and A Better Camera widgets, which I don’t know how it could be rendered within a live wallpaper itself.

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But all the rest features I’ve successfully incorporated into the preset, meaning:

  • wallpaper rotation (wallpapers are randomly changed - earlier on I use Wallpaper Changer for this),
  • wallpaper switch (You can switch to the another wallpaper by hand, using a dedicated button - there was a Wallpaper Changer’s widget for this one),
  • linear battery indicator (a feature present in MIUI or in this app - this form I find much more easy to use in terms of readability; although in order to have it always visible first I need to create a KWGT widget and then to use it as an overlay - see this app),
  • calendar events (earlier on I used a DigiCal’s widget, which can display calendar events, but hadn’t allowed to cover a time span shorter than one week; now in my KLWP preset I included both today and tomorrow events - if there are any - so the exact time span I wanted it to be),
  • weather forecast (I used various apps for this - the recent one was Today Weather - now I dedicated the whole single screen as a weather forecast which I designed totally from scratch, so now everything within it fits my taste and needs),
  • dark-themed notifications (here I’ve found a good workaround, although it wasn’t perfect - Material Notification Shade; now one of my preset’s screens is a place to display notifications, but this time they are much more “eye-friendly”, being enlarged and dark-themed),
  • MacroDroid triggers (earlier on I need to create a separate widget as a trigger for a particular macro - now I don’t need those widgets anymore since it can be done through touch actions leading to particular app shortcuts, including MacroDroid),
  • better desktop icons (various launchers have usually their own limitations, for example You can’t enlarge desktop icons, or maybe there is no dark background for icon folders; in KLWP I’ve designed it all my way, so I don’t need to pay so much attention to what my launcher is capable of doing - because now I design icons and their backgrounds by myself - again - totally fitting my taste and needs);

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Further commentary.

Weather forecast screen from scratch.

In addition I’d like to address a couple of things a little wider. First of all, composing the weather screen I find the most interesting part within this preset (maybe due to the fact that it was my first time in designing weather forecast screen from scratch). It was fascinating and resembled designing a standalone Android weather app. Everything has depended on me: what elements will be included, where are they placed, and so on. Maybe I will write a separate post on this.

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Notifications like never before.

What was especially nice was that I could not only enlarge and dark-theme them - but also customize to a degree, by ascribing my own icons to the chosen ones. So now I’m no longer confined to the icons enforced by some app, a launcher - or the Android itself.

Since there is no swipe gestures attached to particular objects in Kustom yet, I decided to ascribe following actions: tap a notification to open it, tap the empty space on the left (next to the notification You want to close) - to dismiss it.

Furthermore, when I was wondering on how I could make notifications more user-friendly. I’ve realized that it’s often good to know how recent or old is some particular notification. Of course there may be a small date displayed within it - but I definitely prefer solutions which don’t require paying so much attention, i.e., taking a closer look to find out something. So I’ve came up with the idea of “notification aging”: that to each notification I could ascribe a graphic indicator of various color intensity, depending on particular notification’s age. So now the most recent notifications have the brightest bars attached - while the oldest have the darkest (in fact I’ve set up three levels of notification age).

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Fluent wallpaper switch.

First I designed it in a way which resembles the effect Wallpaper Changer gives: a single tap on the trigger switches a wallpaper to another one (out of the local folder). But there was one more element to it - which I wanted to render within the KLWP: changing wallpapers has been animated, what gave a nice “fluid” visual effect every time You wanted to switch wallpapers. I wanted to achieve a similar effect within my preset, my first attempt to it consisted of using a rectangle of the exact size of the screen which has been fading in and out after tapping the trigger. But it hasn’t been working well each and every time - because this same trigger initiated a wallpaper change, which took place in the same time as fading animation - so sometimes I’ve seen the next wallpaper before the fading animation has begun, which didn’t look well and it definitely hasn’t been my desired effect. After a while I decided to a compromise: since I don’t know how to postpone a wallpaper change action after tapping the trigger - I’ll duplicate the shape displaying a wallpaper, but with the another one - and this shape will be animated, so now there will be no interference with the animation, because the trigger won’t be changing wallpapers per se - but will simply make another one visible/invisible (so there will be always two wallpapers placed one on top of another - and switching between them will maintain both fluid transition animation and ability to switch between wallpapers, kinda).

Better desktop icons.

The advantages of using KLWP in order to have better looking desktop icons are quite convincing. There is, however, one thing worth keeping in mind: in order for this feature to work smoothly You need to use a launcher which supports KLWP in this respect. Otherwise, although You still are able to use “desktop icons” made as a part of Your KLWP preset - You may often experience some delay in their touch reaction. The app’s FAQ informs You that You could pull a request to the launcher’s developer - but if You want to have the whole thing working full-well, You need to use a launcher which already supports KLWP (such as Nova Launcher, for example).

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