When someone asks me why I prefer Androids to iPhones, my response has always been “customization.” However, until this week, I didn’t really know what I meant. After a friend recommended Nova Launcher, I decided try reclaiming my two year old phone’s home screen, and I have to say, I’ve been missing out. I now have a home screen I love, and it’s all thanks to the hundreds of apps built to make Androids look great.
First of all, let’s talk about what we’ll be doing. We’re going to be taking a boring old Android home screen like the one pictured above and turning it into something that looks way better. Since this can be a hard-to-navigate process, this article will serve as a guide on how to do this.
The first thing you should do is take Google’s myAndroid Taste Test. It can help to give you a good idea of what you’re looking for, so if you’re trying to find wallpaper, icon pack, and widget suggestions, it’s a great place to go. I took the short quiz and highly recommend it.
The first real decision to make is what launcher you’ll be using. There are a ton of different launchers out there, so even though it can be hard to find out which one is for you, taking the time to do that is critical. I personally like Evie Launcher and Nova Launcher a lot, but there are plenty of others to choose from as well.
When looking for a launcher, you should aim to find something that fits your preference, somewhere between aesthetics and productivity. It makes no sense to build a masterpiece you won’t be able to navigate, but choosing a launcher that looks like it came out of a trash can won’t help much either, even if you can find all your apps.
Okay, now that you’ve chosen and downloaded your launcher, it’s time to set your app layout. Personally, I like to have a full home screen with no folders and all the apps I use most often at my fingertips. This way, I can quickly access everything I need without taking forever to find one specific app.
One suggestion I have for this step is to take a screenshot of your old home screen if you want to keep your layout. Once you officially change your default launcher, it’ll be a pain to constantly be switching it back to see what your old home screen looked like, so take a screenshot now to make this process more efficient. Once you’ve put your apps where you want them, we can move on to the next step.
It’s time to find a cool icon pack. Most phones come with either the stock Google or Samsung packs, but even though they look nice, there are others that look much nicer. I chose Lines on my phone, which has a free version, but some of my other favorites are Moonrise and Whicons. Another fun pack is the PixBit icon pack, but it’s not for everyone. Personally, I chose Lines because it has very good compatibility with different wallpapers, which you’ll see in a minute.
One more tip: Don’t worry about spending a bit of money on icon packs or launchers, because ultimately, you want to be happy with your home screen. It’s yours, so if the free tier’s settings just aren’t cutting it, don’t be afraid to shell out a bit of cash. Ultimately, you won’t be spending nearly as much as a new phone would cost, so chances are, spending a few bucks will increase your options and won’t burn a hole through your wallet.
Next order of business is finding a nice wallpaper. For me, finding a wallpaper was easy since Lines, my icon pack app, recommended some, but in general, I recommend finding a dark, minimal wallpaper that won’t interfere with your app icons. Also, wallpapers with patterns, sharp lines, and bright colors tend not to work so well, so choose a wallpaper that will play nicely with your icons.
If you’re having trouble finding wallpapers that fit your taste, try searching for wallpapers on the Google Play Store. There are thousands of beautiful options, so you shouldn’t be left looking.
Lastly, it’s time for one of the most difficult and tedious steps of all: Configuring your launcher’s settings. For me, this process took almost three hours, but it certainly doesn’t have to take you that long. I recommend testing literally every setting because you never know what you might like until you try something out.
Oh, and one more step if you have some time and want an extra challenge. Widgets can be a great way to add a little more information to your home screen, and with the help of KWGT, you can download or make a fun widget for your home screen. I made a simple widget that displays the day of the week and the date, and although I don’t need it very often, it looks nice and is occasionally helpful. Another widget I like is the Today Calendar Widget, and although it costs $3, it’s worth the price. It looks much nicer than Google’s stock calendar widget and gives all the same information.
Okay, by this point you should have a brand new, beautiful home screen that you’ll love for months, or at least an idea of how to get started. In the end, I went from something that was only functional to something that I enjoy looking at, and I hope with this video’s help, you can too. Whatever home screen you make, I hope you’ll tweet me a picture. I look forward to seeing your new styles.
Not mentioned in the video, but still a really cool app that rounds your phone screen’s corners: https://goo.gl/Y078zS