Touch Screen Launcher Beta
[color="Orange"]Update (2/23/09) - My apologies for letting the link be down for some time. The mirror is back up and should stay up! Thanks for all of you who have had continued interest in this program. Use the download link below to download the Quick Wheel v1.2 beta.[/color]
Hello everyone, I've been working with NeoTechni over the passed few weeks on a new application specifically targeted at Touch Screen use, and mostly designed for UMPC/Tablet PCs. NeoTechni, the genius who brought you Mobile Home, the Origami Clone for XP has been kind enough to help turn my concept into reality by coding it. We've been talking back and forth in an attempt to help tune the application, but now we need some more widespread testing. So I'm releasing a beta for people to use and hopefully report to us bugs and feedback so that we can make it even better.
Beta Version 1.2
Extract all files before using
Let me start off by giving you an idea of what Quick Wheel is, and how it is used. Quick Wheel is a touch screen application launcher at the moment only for XP (sorry, you can try but Vista doesn't seem to like it). I was very disappointed at what other touch screen launchers brought to the table. In most cases, you had to launch the launcher, then find your way to the application that you wanted. By the time the launcher loaded, you could have manually launched the application making the entire concept of a launcher pointless. So I really wanted to have a launcher that was always open, but didn't take up many resources. I'm happy to report that the entire Quick Wheel Beta package is only about 900kb, and takes up approximately 3MB of RAM while in use, to put that into context Firefox which I'm using at the moment is using around 90MB of RAM.
So having an always running system, and keeping it very lite was an important characteristic that I had in mind when coming up with the application, I also wanted it to be very fast and easy to use. I was bothered by the way that the Touch Launcher included with the Sony UX worked. First of all, it took a few seconds to load, and second once you clicked the operation that you wanted to do, there was a few seconds where the application waited to execute your selection to give you time to verify that you clicked the correct item. So I designed the application in a way that you would be certain what you selected, and it could be done very quickly.
And last but definitely not least, I wanted to engage the user in touch screen input. Not being a big touch screen person myself, I wanted to find a way that was fun, but kept the application quick and practical. I can't promise everyone will like the application, but I'm very satisfied with it, and I'm very thankful that NeoTechni has taken time to help me with this project. So, without further ado lets take a look at the application itself.
[align=left]This is basically the entire Quick Wheel interface. I'll explain how it works shortly. But it should be noted that we have a slightly off sized background graphic which is causing the little bit of graphical corruption that you'll see when you are running the application. This is only effecting the background image and doesn't effect the performance of the application itself, and will be fixed when we get the background image to be the exact size that it needs to be. The background is designed for any UMPC with height of 600 pixels, but fear not, anyone running Windows XP should be able to run this application as the app will scale to fit your screen. But right now those of you using smaller or larger screens will have a scaled graphic which won't look as good ; D. Future releases could very well include backgrounds designed for all the common resolutions so that all can enjoy the smooth crisp lines of the background graphic generously created by Rorschach of the MPCT forums. But for the time being you'll have to deal with scaling.
[align=left]For the sake of being able to talk about the application, I've named the different areas -
- Launch Box - this is where you will rotate the icon of the application or folder that you would like to open into, this will prepare it for launch
- Icon Track - this area will be populated by icons of programs and folders that you choose
- Finger Track - this region will be sensitive to touch, you will use it to rotate icons around the Icon Track.
- Launch Button - the launch button is fairly self explanatory, press it to launch the program or open the folder of the corresponding icon that is inside the Launch Box
[align=left]As you can see here, I've added applications to my wheel. In this situation if I were to press the Launch Button, it would launch Windows Media Player. As you can see its very easy to use, and I think people will be surprised at how quick and lite it is.
[align=left]Here is the system tray menu. Obviously you have the option to add a program (.exe) or a folder to the Quick Wheel.
- Remove a Program/Folder - you can remove a folder or program that you have already added. This is done by rotating the icon that you'd like to remove into the launch box, then right click on the system tray icon and click "Remove a program/folder". Only the icon that was inside the Launch Box will be removed.
- Set Call Button - this is used to bind a button that will bring up the Quick Wheel. For UX users: you can bring up your Special Button Utility, and remap one of your hardware buttons to a keypress and then bind that key as your call button. I set my original Touch Launcher hardware button to F2 using the Special Button Utility, then set my call button to F2 in Quick Wheel, now when I press it, up pops Quick Wheel.
- Hide After 10 Seconds - This can be checked off and will cause the application to automatically minimize after 10 seconds of inactivity.
- Add to Startup - This option quite obviously adds Quick Wheel to your startup so it will be ready as soon as your computer is up and running.
[align=center]Information we are looking for from the beta
[align=left]Anyone can feel free to download the beta and give it a shot, it would be great if they could also help us out by giving us feedback. The type of information we need are reports of any bugs you might find, things not working correctly, and it would also be great if you could include the system you are running it on. Feedback in general would be great as well, features you'd like to see etc. The link above will be updated regularly as we make changes so be sure to include which version of the application you are running (it will be noted in the folder's title). Also, the way that we adjusted the different sections (Launch Box, Finger Track, Icon Track, and Launch Button) is based entirely around percentages, we need to know if when your Quick Wheel has been scaled to fit your screen that those invisible zones still cover the areas that they are supposed to and are in line with the background graphic.