Android 4.0 – also known as Ice Cream Sandwich – has been making headlines these past few weeks... And rightfully so: it comes with fun new features such as unbarring your device using your own face, a beautiful new UI, virtual keys, a new font—it's a new era for Android.
With all these new and exciting features it's easy to forget the one feature that used be Android's main attraction, back in the days when the iPhone dominated the market. Yes, I am talking about Live-Wallpapers.
These days the function has largely been decried as an energy vampire and unnecessary gimmick, and hence I've more or less banished it from my own Android device—which is precisely why my interested was peaked when I heard about Text Clock Pro, an animated wallpaper that harbours an actual function, too. Does it work and if so, how well?
First off, I should clarify that Text Clock Pro is not a clock-live-wallpaper in the traditional sense of displaying time by the second or even minute. The app will display the time in messages in 5-minute intervals, starting with every full hour, so, for instance, when it's 7:45 PM 'It is a quarter to eight o'clock' will be displayed. The way in which the message is displayed is – to my liking – really nice: the display shows an array of letters, and the letters spelling out the time message light up whilst the other letters remain dark.
That's about all the app is capable of doing—the neat thing is though that there are a lot of options for personalising the graphics.
Text Clock Pro provides users with a number of graphics options, thus enabling them to come up with their own wallpaper designs that are perfectly suited to their individual preferences. I won't go into every single option available—that would quite simply take too long, and not make for a thrilling read. With this in mind, let me just say that the app comes in two ready-made designs (minimalist & Black/White), which can then be adapted using the 'Custom' function. The options are extensive and range from the transparency of the different letters to font and font size.
I experienced a bump in the road when I tried to upload my own wallpaper image, using a Desire and an unrootet Sensation: the app couldn't follow the data path, and so I couldn't upload my own image, whether from the internal storage nor from the SD card.
Again, I feel I should point out that using live-wallpapers does consume a lot of energy, but surprisingly Test Clock Pro is on the same level of low consumption as Beautiful Widgets. I compared them for a period of over 48 hours and the readings were always between 0-2% of the overall battery consumption.
Bottom line: Text Clock Pro certainly is the chic-est form of time telling I've come across thus far, albeit perhaps not the most accurate (seeing as time is told at 5 minute intervals). The developers probably chose to go this route in the interest of not sucking up to much battery power.
Another issue I have with this app is that I can't actually read the time on two out of my three screens which are packed with widgets and icons and thus obstruct a clear view of the time message.
It's up to the user to decide whether design trumps functionality (to a certain degree).
Screen & Controls
Text Clock Pro does well in this category: the UI is nice and minimal in its design, and the many settings options allow for creating personalised wallpapers. Graphics are quite superb. The reason Text Clock doesn't get top marks in this department is the imperfect functionality due to not being able to make out the time message on displayed that harbour a lot of icons and widgets.
Speed & Stability
Text Clock Pro didn't crash at all during our test runs. However, a number of community members have reported that the application is not compatible with LauncherPro and Go Launcher Ex (alternative launcher apps) and will lead to crashing. The developers took note of the customer complaints and there's now a big warning disclaimer in the app description. So until this problem is sorted out Text Clock Pro gets a 'good' rating in this category.
Text Clock Pro is currently available for 0,78 Euro from the AndroidPit AppCenter and Android Market. If ever you're not quite sure whether this will be your cup of tea, we recommend giving the lite version a go.