Author: Alberto Vidal Rodríguez
As mentioned, most of launchers available for the Android system have similar functionalities. These launchers allow you to give the Smartphone desktop screen a personalized appearance, allowing it to be adapted to the needs of each user.
This type of application allows, for example, that some functionalities such as the camera or emergency modes are always available from the home screen, which greatly facilitates access to them. These features are commonly used in mobile phones used by older people, but they can also be very useful for other groups such as people with visual or cognitive disabilities.
To start using the Easy Mode Launcher, just download it from the Android Play Store and install it on your mobile device, as can be seen in the image below.
Once downloaded and installed on the mobile phone, you can start using this application.
As soon as we download it from the application store, the following message will be shown on the screen, whether we open the application or try to return to the main menu.
Here we will be shown the different options that we have to select as the start application, that is, the one that will manage how the desktop is displayed and access to the different applications. We will have to choose between the default Android, some other launcher or application that we have installed and that can work in this way or the Easy Mode Launcher that we just downloaded. We will select the latter by clicking on the icon at the bottom left. In this way, the Easy Mode Launcher will look like launcher mobile device default, although this can be changed later if desired.
Once the Easy Mode Launcher has been selected as the starting application, the different screens and functionalities of which it is composed can be seen. The 4 main screens that this launcher is initially composed of will be explained below.
Of the four screens that this launcher is initially made up of, the one on the left allows you to control the following six functionalities, as shown in the image below.
From this screen we can activate or deactivate Wi-Fi, bluetooth, mobile flashlight, airplane mode, adjust the brightness of the screen or change the tone, that is, put the mobile on sound or silent.
All these activations / deactivations are carried out by clicking on the respective associated icons. Clicking once on these icons will activate this functionality if it was deactivated or it will be deactivated if it was activated on the contrary.
As can be seen in the image, these icons are large and are also accompanied by an image that clearly shows what they want to represent, making their use much easier for people, for example, with vision problems.
The only functionality that is adjusted differently and not by clicking on the associated icon is that of Bright. In this case, the screen brightness will be increased by sliding up on this icon and the brightness will be reduced by sliding down on the same icon.
In addition, as it will happen with other applications or functionalities, the first time we want to adjust the brightness we must grant permission to the Easy Mode Launcher to do so. For this reason, the first time we click on the brightness icon, a message will be displayed asking us to accept this function in the system settings. By pressing on Accept We will be redirected directly to the settings screen where we must activate the button associated with Grant permission. This simple process is shown in the two images below.
The second screen that makes up the Easy Mode Launcher is the one associated with the user's Contacts. From this screen you can quickly access the contacts that we select as most relevant to the user, so that they can call or send a message to these contacts in a simple way and in a few seconds.
Initially this screen does not contain any contacts. To add the contacts that we want, we must give the launcher permission to access our contacts.
On this screen we can add up to a maximum of 6 predetermined contacts. This allows the icons to be very large, although it can be a problem when selecting only 6.
To add contacts, the following process must be followed. First, click on the Add icon, as shown in the first image. Subsequently, you must click on the circular icon with a + in the lower right, as shown in the second image. Finally, we will select Add contact if we want to add one from the contact book or Create contact if we want to create a new one.
To delete a contact from those that appear on this second screen, the process is similar. From the contact management menu, all you have to do is select the one you want to delete and click on the red trash can that will appear at the bottom right of the screen. In this way, that contact will be deleted from the main contacts screen, although it will continue to be accessible from the contact book, that is, that contact is not deleted from the mobile device.
The main functionality of this screen will be to be able to communicate with the user's most common contacts in a simple way. If we click on one of the contacts that we have decided to appear as default, it will allow us to call or send a message in a very comfortable way.
The third screen that we find in the Easy Mode Launcher is the one that will be the main screen of this launcher. By default it looks like this, with a box at the top that shows the current date and time in large size and the features of Settings, Photos, Chrome and Applications.
On this screen we must place those applications that the person is going to use most frequently, so that it is practically immediate to be able to access them. Both the date and time and the Settings and Applications cannot be removed from this main screen.
To add other functionalities or applications to this screen, go to the section on Settings and there at the option of Manage applications, as shown in the images below. From this section you can add or remove applications from the main screen and sort them so that they appear in order of user preference.
As mentioned above the options Settings and Applications they cannot be removed from this screen. From the latter, you can access the entire list of applications that we have downloaded to the mobile phone, arranged in alphabetical order.
On this screen you can have up to 4 applications, in addition to the date and time. If we add more than 4, a new screen will be created, in which we can add up to 6 more applications to which we will have direct access. If we also fill in the maximum number of 6 in this new screen, a new one would be created and so on.
In order to analyze and evaluate the application, a series of tests have been carried out to verify the operation of the Easy Mode Launcher. The tests have been carried out on a Samsung Galaxy S8 device (Android 8.0.0).
In this section, different criteria have been applied to assess whether the application can be used regardless of the capabilities of the user.
-Cognitive accessibility: The Easy Mode Launcher can be a very good option to facilitate the use of Android mobile devices for people with cognitive disabilities. This launcher, like other similar ones, makes it easier to use since it reduces the actions that must be followed to access an application and allows a more schematic and simple view of the applications and functionalities of the mobile phone by means of pictograms. In addition, the text description that accompanies each of these pictograms makes their understanding even easier.
-Accessibility for people with reduced or no vision: In turn, this launcher can also be very useful for those with reduced vision capacity, since it allows the icons associated with the different applications or functionalities such as the camera or the flashlight to be large, which facilitates Your ID.
The style cannot be changed, this being a white background with the different application icons in color. In fact, even if we activate the dark mode from the mobile phone settings, this change does not apply to the main launcher screens. Despite this, the contrast in general is good and facilitates the reading of the texts and the identification of the icons. However, if we change the font size of the texts from the mobile settings, this change will be applied to the launcher texts, which allows the font size to be made larger to make it easier for people with vision problems.
To complete this section, some tests have been carried out with the screen reader system available to Android devices. These tests have focused on checking the correct labeling of the icons and buttons available to the launcher. In the tests carried out, it has been found that the buttons and the different screens of which it is composed are well labeled and the launcher can be used without any problem using this screen reader.
-Accessibility for people with hearing difficulties: This launcher does not have any functionality in which audition is necessary, so it can be used without any problem by this group.
These tests are intended to verify if the application has bugs that do not allow it to perform its functions.
During the days in which the Easy Mode Launcher has been tested, no problem has been detected that prevents it from functioning as desired.
The Easy Mode Launcher can be a very useful tool to make smartphone use easier for some people. One of the groups that can benefit the most from using this launcher is the elderly, since it allows the usability of these smartphones to be much easier. For their part, there are other groups for which the use of this and other launchers may be interesting, such as people with cognitive disabilities or with reduced or no vision.
In addition, it should be noted that this launcher presents a simple aesthetic, but very neat and elegant, which can be seen as a favorable point when choosing it over other similar ones.
In general, the different accessibility elements associated with this launcher have been positively evaluated, which means that it can be used easily by practically any user. For example, thanks to the pictograms associated with each application, in addition to the text that accompanies each of them, it is very easy to identify the different applications and functionalities present on the mobile phone.
In addition, it allows a great customization of the different menus and screens of which it is composed, which makes it possible to adapt to the tastes or needs of the user.
One of the aspects of improvement that have been found is that, as with most launchers, they are only available for the Android operating system and not for the iOS one. In addition, perhaps it would be interesting if several direct access screens could be established for contacts, just as it can be done with the list of applications. In this way, more than 6 contacts could be established that can be called from the home screen, since this number can get a little low.
On the other hand, an important aspect to improve that has been detected refers to notifications. With the launcher installed, if a missed call is received, this is not notified when unlocking the phone, either on the lock screen or once it is unlocked. This can prevent many users from realizing that they have received a missed call. Only a notification appears in the application Phone Number if we have this among the default on the home screen and if we display the notification menu by sliding from the top of the screen down, but this is a gesture that can be complicated and not very intuitive for people who do not handle very well with this type of phone, which is precisely one of the groups that has the best chance of using this launcher.
To make it easier for users to know that they have received a call and to know who this call is from, it would be extremely interesting if it were notified on the lock screen and in some other place easily visible by the user.
Finally, while in the version of this launcher in English, in the area destined to the date and time, the weather is also shown in the place where the user is, this option is not available in the Spanish version , or at least it is not in the devices in which the launcher has been able to be tested.
Despite this, it can be said that, in general, the user experience when using the Easy Mode Launcher has been satisfactory, so it is considered that its use is highly recommended, especially for some groups such as the elderly.
- It is totally free.
- It can be very useful for some groups such as the elderly when it comes to facilitating the use of smartphones.
- Good accessibility for different user profiles.
- The interface has a more modern look than other launchers and is easy to use.
- This launcher, as with other launchers, is only available for the Android operating system. This means that users of mobile devices with an iOS system cannot use it.
- Notification of missed calls and received messages can be improved.