Even though the Start screen offered by Windows Phone 7 is pretty good, with its big live tiles and metro interface, at times one does tend to wish that there was some way to pin the exact same thing you want to that area. For instance, won’t it be really useful if you could text a particular friend by just tapping a tile? While Lightning Dial is not really an alternative for the Start screen in WP7, it does allow Mango users the luxury of creating customized shortcuts, and then accumulating them in one place for easy access. The app can roughly be compared to a launcher in Android, as it lets users gather shortcuts and app icons in one place without actually disturbing the Start screen. You can use Lightning Dial to easily access Settings toggles and create customized shortcuts.
No matter how many apps you install on your smartphone, you will need to use it as an ordinary phone every once in a while; that is, for making calls, sending texts, emails and just browsing the web. Lightning Dial allows you to create highly personalized shortcuts related to just about any area of the OS. To start using the app, just tap any area of the empty screen, and the empty grip will appear. Each screen has 12 empty slots, where shortcuts can be configured. If you think 12 is too less a number, there are 3 workspaces with the same number of slots.
First off, you have to decide where exactly in the grid do you want to place the shortcut. Tap that slot in the workspace, and choose from the presented list the category under which your shortcut falls. The app supports creating shortcuts for contacts (SMS, email and call) and social networking (using which you can share your thoughts with your social network buddies on Twitter and Facebook). You can link tiles to apps in the Marketplace as well. Lightning Dial can also be used to set up shortcuts to system settings, and you can choose the background color for each tile as well.
The concept behind Lightning Dial is pretty good, but the app does face a few issues. While testing, we experienced that it crashed consistently, but that could be an issue just faced by us. The app is free, albeit ad-supported, and to get rid of the ads you can purchase the $0.99 version.