Cult of Mac Favorite: Orbit, SpringBoard Navigation The ‘Exposé’ Way for Jailbroken iPhone and iPod Touch



I recently came across orbit, which is one of the best navigation options available for the iPhone and iPod Touch. I have an iPhone that has over 100 applications and it’s definitely a pain to get to the applications on the last page. I can always put the useful applications on the first page but at this point, I have just stopped arranging them. This is when Orbit enters the scene. Instead of swiping across all these pages, it lets me jump to a particular page quickly using simple tile view, saving me a lot of time. That’s the reason it’s one of my favorites.

What is it: Orbit is an application for jailbroken iPhones that makes it much easier to navigate applications on your iPhone, especially if you have lots of them. It lets you ‘jump’ to a page of apps easily by using a unique interface to display all SpringBoard pages as tiles. Clicking on each tile takes you to that particular page. This is pretty similar to working with Exposé and Spaces on Mac — using one’s interface for performing the other’s functions.

If you own a Mac with OS X Leopard or Snow Leopard installed, you should already be familiar with Exposé, which organizes all open application windows into a neat tile view. Expose makes it easy to switch to  application windows without needing to search for them below a pile of other windows. Spaces is a organizational tool that allows you to group different applications into different virtual desktops. You can make several custom groups and switch between these different groups at the click of a button.

Why it’s good: When you open the Orbit application, it shows all the SpringBoard pages in an organized tile view pretty similar to what Exposé does with open applications on a Mac. This way, it helps you reach an application that is located on a say, the last page, without wasting time scrolling through scores of pages. Orbit opens quickly and works smooth, almost instantly on a 3GS. The interface and icon graphics created by Louie Mantia are pretty impressive and the crossfade animation works without a hiccup.

What is it missing: Orbit works well if you know what page the app you are looking for is on. But if you don’t know where the app is, you have to guess. Orbit needs an in-app search option to show the page where a particular application is located, maybe by highlighting the particular tile.

Where to get it: You can download it from the Cydia Store at $1.99. The application portal is located here.

What may be possible soon: The developer is working on a new version of Orbit that works as a switcher for the backgrounder application. It allows you to switch applications running in background rather than application pages. In fact, the developer got an early version working on his iPhone for which he released a screenshot. Hopefully, he will be releasing the full version soon. This would be a great deal for multitasking on iPhone as it would be just the ‘perfect way’ to switch between apps and in fact, the only solution that is better than Palm Pre’s ‘application cards’, which again requires lots of swipes. :D