There’s a long standing joke in the tech-world about just how different the hardware configurations are for nearly every Android device out there. There’s different screen sizes and different screen types; There’s different processors, memory amounts, button layouts. . . There’s one configuration not nearly as talked about as processors and screens that — depending on who you are — could make or break your decision to purchase: Navigation. No, not GPS type or pre-installed maps, I’m talking about a trackball or optical trackpad. There’s a lot of mobile users out there (BlackBerry fanatics, I’m looking at you) who wouldn’t dream of buying a phone without at least a trackpad, or more preferably, a trackball. So what if everything else with the new Android device you’ve been eyeing lines up expect that glorious trackball? There may be a solution.
Virtual Trackball for root users is just what it sounds like: A virtual trackball. When you turn the app on, a virtual trackball is placed on your screen allowing you to navigate the way you normally would with a trackball. You can select text, highlight certain items, play games, etc. One of the best things about Virtual Trackball is its simplicity. Except for a few options related to placement and appearance, that’s all there is to it.
The settings menu is available right when you open Virtual Trackball, without having to press any buttons. In fact, pressing the menu key doesn’t even do anything. The options for the app are pretty straight forward:
Mode – Change the trackball to a d-pad.
Behavior – Allow diagonal movement and turn on/off button press highlights.
Color – Change the color of the trackball.
Position – Change the horizontal and vertical position of the trackball.
Opacity – Change the transparency of the trackball.
Size – Choose between tiny, small, medium, and big for sizes.
So without a whole bunch of bells and whistles to talk about, all that’s left to go over is how well the virtual trackball actually works, right?
Here’s the thing about Virtual Trackball, while in theory it sounds like a great idea, it’s not. There is a ridiculous amount of problems when using the app. For starters, you can’t click through the trackball. It makes sense, but if the trackball is on screen and you need to press something behind it, you have to reopen the app and turn the trackball off. More often than not, the trackball just disappears for no reason anyway. When the trackball isn’t obstructing something or disappearing, it still doesn’t work great. Sure it works, but if you’re jonesing for some physical trackball love, then you’re out of luck.
There are good things about the performance, like games worked alright, but overall I’m gonna have to say this app has had permission denied — Especially for $1.35. You’re experience may differ, so if you feel you really need a trackball and you can’t find a suitable device with one on board, I suggest you give it shot. If things don’t work out like you had hoped though, don’t say I didn’t warn you.
As always, should you have any comments, questions, or concerns, feel free to let it all out in the comments below.