When it comes to an Android phone, using it as a phone and app jukebox is only a part of the battle. Rather than just having pages of apps like a certain other mobile operating system, Android devices can be completely customized from the text to the app icons to the wallpapers to the widgets to the lock screen and beyond. There are no limits on Android devices, but in order to turn your phone into a beautifully customized piece of art, you need to know where to start. Below, we’ll dive into custom launchers, where to find the best icons or wallpapers, and how the lock screen is something that shouldn’t be forgotten about.
1. Launchers: Your journey to customize the look of your Android device begins with a third party launcher. Think of it as the back-bone to everything we are about to talk about. In order to change icons, apply themes, and manipulate more settings than you imagined, a third party launcher is key as it includes support for all of those things. Two of my favorites are Nova Launcher and Apex Launcher. Both are built for devices running Ice Cream Sandwich and stay fairly stock looking when initially installed. But after you start tweaking things, you will quickly realize how powerful each is. Not sure what a “launcher” is? Think of it as the app that allows you to browse your apps (or app drawer), gives you space to display clocks and widgets on, and is the “home screen” you return to after pressing Home.
2. Icon Packs: Once you have a launcher picked out, it’s time to start talking about changing the way the software on your phone looks. One of the most important pieces has to do with your icons. As you can see in the picture above and below, my icons for phone, mail, camera and folder are not something you would typically find on an Android device. Thanks to the third party launcher I have installed, I’m allowed to change to these. So how do you find icons? One place to search is the Play Store by using terms such as “icon pack.” If you are overwhelmed by the thousands of results, you may want to check out Kovdev or Tha Phlash, two artists that do incredible icon work. Changing an icon is usually as simple as long pressing on an icon, choosing to “edit” the icon, and then picking a new icon from one of the packs that you have installed on your phone.
3. Clock Widgets: If there was one way for you to boldly represent your style on your Android device, it would be through a beautiful clock widget. There are countless options out there, but some of them are clearly more powerful and feature rich than others. One of my all-time favorites, if you are looking to keep things minimal, is called TypoClock. If you want something a little more bold and colorful with quick pre-set options, you may want to check out One More Clock. If creating your own custom clock or browsing through hundreds of designs by other creative types sounds like fun, feel free to dive into the wild world of Ultimate Custom Clock Widget. Customizing is all about you, so feel free to test out a variety of clocks until you find one that matches your overall theme, including icons and wallpaper.
4. Lock Screen: One of the most overlooked, yet highly customizable pieces to an Android phone is the lock screen. Users tend to ignore them as nothing more than a barrier between them and their phone, but they are so much more. What if you could customize your lock screen to make your phone not only more beautiful, but also more functional? WidgetLocker is the app that will get you there. It has a handful of built-in unlock options, however, there is also a community that has created countless custom lockers, 3 of which I have pictured below. Wallpapers can be customized, you can add specific widgets for quick access to info, app shortcuts, your favorite clocks, and anything else that you would normally do to a home screen. It’s almost like a third party launcher, just for your lock screen only.
5. Wallpapers: Anyone can look up wallpapers in the Google Play Store. Finding some that work for you and are actually beautiful is another task altogether. Sites like deviantART are great resources if you want to find something that has been freshly created by real artists and that has yet to be picked up by the various wallpaper apps out there. Once you find a wallpaper or two from there that you like, be sure to jot down or bookmark the artist as many of them tend to create new wallpapers on a regular basis. Also, you may not know this, but some icon packs include wallpapers that the developers have created or hand-picked to aide you in creating the ultimate phone theme.
6. Another Level: If these simple apps and tips still aren’t enough to get your phone looking its best, then the next step would be to root your device. Rooting your device is similar to “jailbreaking” in that it gives you administrator level power over your phone. Once you have rooted it, you can install custom ROMs and compatible themes. A theme is a completely custom look that can be placed on top of the software of your device, giving you new system colors and highlights, different icons, a new notification bar, etc. This is a move that’s best left for advanced users or those that don’t mind tinkering.
How have you customized your Android? Let us know below…
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