Friday, September 3, 2010

QuickLaunch vs. ShortcutMe

No "versus" posts are more present on the Crackberry Forums than those of the QuickLaunch vs. ShortcutMe variety. These receive the most action, have the most heated debates and even elicit the most response from the developers. Even though they are at times enjoyable to follow, the "this program is better than that one/this one stole from that one" threads are not ultimately helpful to the consumer.

This review aims to take this long standing "versus" debate and actually make it helpful when deciding which program is right for you.

What do these programs do, you may ask? They attempt to make your Blackberry more efficient and easier to use by providing a method to access your applications, emails, websites and more via an easy to use shortcut interface.

If you are using a standard Blackberry theme, you probably have 6 icons on your home screen that are easy to access. However, you likely have more than 6 applications loaded on your phone. What do you do if you want to launch one of these other apps? You hit the menu key to go to your app screen, scroll and find the app you want to launch and you may even need to navigate through a folder to find that app.

Now, instead of doing that you can quickly hit the Space bar, then T and you've launched UberTwitter. Hit the right convenience key twice and you're in the camera app. Tap Space E and you're on Create numerous shortcuts and customize to your heart's content.


QuickLaunch (QL) is developed by NikkiSoft and as of this writing is in version 3.3 and is available for $4.99 from Mobihand. QuickLaunch supports a wide variety of devices an OSes - you can find the full list on the Mobihand link.


ShortcutMe (SCM) is developed by Fonware, LTD. and is currently in version and is available for $4.99 from Mobihand. ShortcutMe supports a wide variety of devices an OSes - you can find the full list on the Mobihand link.

The standard setup for both programs is easy and fairly intuitive. Simply launch the program, click the menu and find your option for adding a shortcut. Both are very similar in nature.

QL presents you with an initial category screen to allow you to choose if you want to add an Application, QL feature (more on these and SCM's features in a later section), Phone Call, Email, etc. Select the type of shortcut that you'd like to create and you are taken to the add an item screen.
QuickLaunch "category" screen

QuickLaunch "add an item" screen

SCM takes you right to the add an item screen, but you do get the option to select either a common shortcut type or a SCM feature. I really did not find that I preferred one method over the other.

ShortuctMe "add an item" screen

In both you add an item, specify a shortcut key (or up to 3 shortcut keys if you like), change the display name if you like and save the shortcut. The shortcut will then appear in your list of shortcuts when you launch either QL or SCM.

QL: Both programs performed admirably when using a single shortcut key. However, when specifying multiple shortcut keys for an item, I preferred QL's method. For example, if you have G setup as your Gmail shortcut and GM as your Google Maps shortcut, when you launch QL and click GM, Maps will launch. If you click G and wait a split second, Gmail will launch. This is the behavior that I expect.

In SCM, clicking GM will launch Maps but G will not automatically launch Gmail after waiting. Clicking G will bring up all your shortcuts that begin with G and then you apparently need to scroll to the appropriate selection in order to launch it.

I found this annoying if you use shortcuts that launch on multiple characters.
Using multiple character shortcuts with ShortcutMe.
Gmail will not launch by just Space-G.

In addition to launching items via keyboard shortcuts, both programs allow you to launch items by utilizing multiple clicks of the left and right convenience keys. You can setup items to launch on 2x, 3x and 4x clicking of either convenience key.

SCM: SCM gets the nod in this minor category over QL here as it also allows you to setup 2x, 3x, and 4x clicking of the Space bar in order to launch items. In addition, you can setup ALT-key shortcuts with SCM.

QL: You can organize both programs by moving shortcuts around within the shortcut screen but only on QL can you add folders (shown in the initial screenshot with the small folder icon) to help additionally organize your shortcuts. SCM has the concept of "categories" which I expected would act like folders but SCM's categories do not actually move shortcuts to a child folder. Instead they add a preceding character to a shortcut; i.e. if you add a shortcut to the Website category, you are forced to prefix all of your shortcuts in that category with W. Have ESPN in your Website category? Instead of E, you'll be launching that link with WE. I preferred QL's folder implementation.
ShortcutMe's category warning.

You use a product like this more than any other on your phone so definitely want to make it your own. Luckily both programs provide for varying levels of customization. Both allow you to add a wallpaper background to your shortcut screen and change your font size and color. 

SCM lets you automatically rotate wallpaper every time you launch it, sort the main page based upon the shortcut and change the "visibility" of your wallpaper.
ShortcutMe's option screen

QL lets you change the menu location, titlebar color, font style, menu border size, menu width, background color and background transparency. You can also specify from a select number of keys, which one you would like to use to launch QL. You can only use the Space key to launch SCM.
QuickLaunch's option screen

QL: You can really make the menu look anyway you want it to with all of these options. SCM falls short as far as customizing the menu goes.

SCM: However, the wallpaper implementation is better on SCM. I really like how the shortcuts are offset to the left so you can fully see the wallpaper. QL's wallpaper just appears behind all of your shortcuts.

QuickLaunch wallpaper

Additional Features
Both programs also include minor but often very helpful shortcuts that are not part of the Blackberry operating system. There are too many additional items to list, but suffice it to say they are plentiful. Both allow for WiFi toggle, Bluetooth toggle, GPS toggle and screenshots which are the most pertinent as far as I'm concerned.

SCM: The list of SCM features is substantially longer than QL's. If you need it, it is probably in here except...
ShortcutMe's additional features

QL: ...QL has a Reboot Device feature that I could not locate in SCM. I've found that I'm using this more often than a physical battery pull now. In addition, you can also schedule reboots with QL.

Lastly, QL tacks on another neat, little feature as it allows you to display your local temperature and today's hi/lo in the title bar that you may have noticed above.

Response Time
You want to buy one of these in order to launch your apps, websites, and shortcuts quickly and efficiently, so that's what it should do right?

SCM: Just try to click Space and then the shortcut key fast enough to beat SCM. You can't do it. Even try using two hands and click the shortcut key instantaneously after Space. You simply cannot click the shortcut fast enough so that SCM does not capture it. The SCM menu may not even pop up before you click the shortcut key but it seems to "catch up" and launch the app as you instructed it to.

QL is definitely no slouch as far as response time goes, but you can beat it to the punch if you try. If you launch QL and click the shortcut key too fast, the app in question will not launch. I'm not talking about any sort of significant delay here - it's fractions of a second - but if you move fast enough QL will not have launched in time for it to recognize the following shortcut key. You really have to try though and in daily use you may not encounter this at all.

For $4.99, you really have to buy one of these apps. I could recommend either one and be confident that you would love it and use it more than any other single app on your phone.

You really can't go wrong with either of these excellent programs, though, I'm personally choosing QuickLaunch. The app is endlessly customizable, I really like the implementation of the folders, the multi-character shortcuts are handled better and even though the wallpaper setup is not quite as cool as ShortcutMe that is something that I can live with in light of the other excellent qualities.

One thing that I again will tell you, however, is that you need one of these. You will fall in love with you Blackberry all over again.

These products were reviewed using a T-Mobile branded 9700 running OS and the stock Precision Zen theme.

1 comment:

  1. What an excellent piece of writing. Thank you so much.