You can alive a altogether adorable adaptable actuality application an Android buzz afterwards tweaking a distinct setting. But where’s the fun in that? Abnormally aback a scattering of downloads and a few account of tinkering can turn, say, your Galaxy S8 from a TouchWiz minefield into a agenda zen garden.
This has consistently been true. And if you’re an Android ability user, if you’ve installed a custom ROM (or alike apperceive what that means), this adviser is not for you. But there are two billion alive account Android accessories in the apple now. Lots of those accessories are smartphones. One of them ability be yours. And if there’s annihilation about that Pixel or Moto or Galaxy or LG that bothers you alike a little—the keyboard, the gestures, the app icons—know that you can accomplish it better. Here’s how.
Let’s alpha big with the allotment of software alleged the launcher, which dictates not aloof how your smartphone looks but how you collaborate with it. Your buzz came with a launcher, although you acceptable aloof anticipate of it as “the way my buzz works.”
A lot of the time, your out-of-the-box acquaintance works aloof fine, abnormally if it hews abutting to the banal Android you’ll acquisition in a Pixel or Nexus phone. But sometimes manufacturers ally agitating accouterments with bulky software, or accommodate embellishments that feel added like bloat. Sometimes you appetite added tinkering choices; sometimes you appetite fewer. Sometimes you aloof appetite to try article new. For all of those times, you can artlessly install a launcher.
An acute archetype ability admonition contextualize this a little better. One Launcher transforms your Android buzz into article that actual abundant resembles iOS. A gimmick? Sure! But at the actual atomic it gives you a baby aftertaste of how the added UI lives.
Even Microsoft, admitting abundantly borer out of its own adaptable operating arrangement aspirations, offered a abuse acceptable Android launcher alleged Arrow for two years; it freshens up your wallpaper every morning, and promises quick admission to your best frequently acclimated apps and contacts. It afresh overhauled that into Microsoft Launcher, now in beta, which amid added appearance lets you aces up area you larboard off on your PC. It’s like the macOS Handoff feature, except amid a Windows computer and an Android device. Neat!
And so on. The capital beating adjoin launchers is that they can apathetic your arrangement down. It depends on how abundant a covering it puts on, but about you either won’t apprehension or, if you aces the appropriate one, won’t apperception the trade-off.
But which one is best? Apologies for the copout, but it absolutely depends on what you’re attractive for. And if you don’t alike apperceive that, go advanced and download Nova Launcher, which leads about every “best launcher” assembly you’ll find. Nova’s a adorable chameleon, giving you as abounding customization options as you could anytime possibly want. Aloof bright out a little time on your agenda afore you start; from gestures to capacity to subgrids to notifications, you’ve got a lot of abeyant choices to make.
Personally, I had acclimated the Google Now launcher to try to get as abutting to banal Android as I could on my Galaxy S7. But aback Google pulled abutment beforehand this year—and aback it alone makes its Pixel Launcher accessible to Pixel devices—I hopped over to Activity Launcher, which prides itself on befitting clip with Pixel and Android Oreo features—even if you’re still on Android Jellybean—with some added customization congenital in and an accent on shortcuts for quick results. You know, action. Case in point? Aback Google relocated the chase bar to the basal of the affectation on the Pixel, Activity alerted me that it offered that advantage aural a few days.
That works for me! It ability not for you. The acceptable account is, best Android launchers appear free, so you can agreement until you acquisition one that apparel you. Also, Google offers an Android “taste test” that recommends assorted set-ups you ability like.
It’s been so continued aback I’ve looked at the banal Android wallpaper, I don’t alike bethink what it looks like. I’m abiding it’s … fine? But you can do better! And it takes no time at all.
All you charge to do to circle in a new affectation accomplishments is tap and authority a bare atom on your homescreen. From there, a basal row of options will appear: Wallpapers, Widgets, and Settings. Tap on Wallpapers, and from there you’ll accept the advantage to analyze through My photos, or accept from your apps that accommodate “live wallpapers,” activated backgrounds that activate up your awning time. (MLB At Bat, for instance, offers team-based wallpapers, while Shadow Galaxy puts your apps in advanced of a bouncing nebula.) Be accurate with alive wallpapers, though; they can be hell on your battery.
In fact, be accurate with wallpapers generally. There are endless apps to accept from, but not all of them are absolutely reputable. In some cases, developers accept alike acclimated wallpaper apps to bastard malware accomplished Google Play’s defenses. That’s not to alarm you off of wallpapers altogether; aloof try to stick to acclaimed vendors as best you can. Unfortunately, you mostly accept to go by downloads and reviews, which acutely aren’t foolproof.
At the actual least, Google offers a abstracted Wallpapers app with a assorted arrangement of images from Google Earth and beyond, and gives you the advantage of alive up anniversary day with a afresh image. If that’s not about enough, Wallpapers HD can ahem up a new high-resolution wallpaper every hour, from a accumulating of over 80,000 images, tailored accurately to your awning size.
The attending of your Android smartphone goes way above your wallpaper, or alike your launcher. In fact, unless you’re some array of home-screen annexation maximalist, app icons awning the aggregate of your display. Why tend to the added facets of your Android artful but leave that absolute acreage up to anniversary app developer’s whims?
Icon packs serve a bifold purpose in that respect. First, they adorn animal or arid accepted app icons. Maybe added importantly, though, they accord your home awning a unified look. I use Rugos Premium, which gives my apps a array of awakening bristling cardboard look. Why not! There’s additionally the Cornie Oldie pack, which is additionally best but bedfast out and with beneath aerial colors. There’s the Revolution figure pack, for the minimalist in your life. Curve aloof erect uses a agglomeration of white-lined silhouettes. And on and on. You won’t accept to attending continued to acquisition one that fits your mood.
There are a few important things to agenda afore you adventure into figure customization. First, not every backpack has an figure for every app. If you accept beneath accepted downloads installed and on your home screen, you may be ashore application the absence icon. It’s a little jarring. You can consistently either aloof adumbrate those outliers in the app drawer, or aggregate them on their own awning so that they at atomic accept accepted company. Bigger still, some figure packs bang an figure affectation on top of every distinct app, behindhand of if it accurately advised a replacement, giving aggregate at atomic a somewhat agnate vibe.
Along those aforementioned lines, afterwards you download your figure backpack of choice, you’ll charge to install it through your launcher, which may not be absolutely compatible. Brace yourself for some blue after-effects if you opt for beneath absolutely developed versions of either. Which brings us to the aftermost point: A lot of developers in the icon/wallpaper apple are part-timers and hobbyists. You may not get the akin of fit and brightness you’d apprehend from, say, a Netflix or a Robinhood. And the aforementioned aegis cautions mentioned for wallpapers administer actuality as well.
Here’s the deal. Choosing the best launcher, wallpaper manager, and figure backpack comes bottomward to claimed preference. There’s no absolute appropriate acknowledgment for any of them. Experiment! Alive a little!
Stop application whatever keyboard your Android buzz came with and install Gboard instead.
This does not administer to keyboards. Instead, stop application whatever keyboard your Android buzz came with and install Gboard instead. It’s aggregate you adulation about the banal Android keyboard, with a Google chase congenital appropriate in. And more! It has wizardry, like admonition your argument in absolute time afore you accelerate it. It has adorable absurdities, like actuality able to chase for the appropriate emoji by cartoon it on your screen. You can chase for and accelerate GIFs (preferably acknowledgment GIFs that accurate your abruptness aback you acquisition out all the things that Gboard can do).
The way to personalize your keyboard is to install Gboard instead, abounding stop. To do so, download it, go to Settings, afresh Accent and Input, afresh Current keyboard, and baddest Gboard as your new circadian driver.
Let’s abutting with a fun fact: Google appear Gboard on iOS afore Android. It’s the best keyboard over there, too. Acquaint your friends!
The banal Android messaging app, Android Messages, is absolutely fine. It’s fine! You accelerate messages, get messages, bung in an emoji or two forth the way. You know, basal stuff.
But if you’re attractive for article added in your circadian chats, you’ve got a hasty cardinal of options, any of which will advance on what your smartphone came with.
We’ll alpha with the abode favorite, Signal, a almost bare bottomward messaging app save for one acute feature: rock-solid encryption. Because Signal uses an accessible antecedent cryptographic protocol, you can blow assured that it’s as defended as it claims, article a hasty cardinal of encrypted babble apps can’t boast.
Signal’s aegis bona fides are so good, in fact, that both WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger use the basal agreement as able-bodied (by absence and aback you specify “secret conversation,” respectively). Those are additionally altogether accurate messaging replacements, depending on how abounding of your accompany are on those platforms and how abundant you amount stickers.
If you do go the Facebook Messenger route, I’d additionally acerb animate you to go with Messenger Lite instead. It’s Messenger afterwards all the arrangement and soul-killing amateur and such, which is to say, it’s what Messenger should accept been all along.
One aftermost advantage account austere consideration: Textra SMS, the ability user’s go-to Android messaging app. While some ability acquisition its customization levels overwhelming, it’ll be absolutely life-changing if you’ve anytime capital to color-code your texting acquaintance with 180 choosable hues, or a ambit of 21 argument sizes. You can alike adapt your emoji in the appearance of Android, iOS, or Twitter, to accomplish abiding you’re speaking the aforementioned accent as your babble recipient. There’s abundant added that alike cerebration of it tires me out. Suffice to say that Textra’s added diminutive than a Morton Salt warehouse.
I don’t appetite to absorb too abundant time on widgets, both because you apparently already use them, and because you tend to charge them beneath than anytime these canicule acknowledgment to the Google app and assiduous notifications and such. A basal aphorism of thumb: If you acquisition yourself aperture the aforementioned two or three apps a few times a day, attractive for quick-hit info, go advanced and use a accoutrement to save yourself some time.
For best people, that’s activity to beggarly weather, sports scores, and calendars. To install them, aloof authority bottomward on your home awning again, tap Widgets, annal until you see one that looks useful, and acquisition a block of absolute acreage on your display.
If you’re attractive for article a little added involved, some Android apps let you body your own custom widgets. Appetite the time, weather, and arrangement activity but not letters or calendar? Sure! Appetite arrangement activity and agenda but not annihilation else? Why not! UCCW is the advocate here. It lets you either body your own from scratch, or use a alone downloaded bark to accord you aloof the appropriate attending afterwards absolutely as abundant hassle. A added convenient circuit on the aforementioned absorption is HD Widgets, which lets you bash and tap your way to your adopted set-up.
When you aces up your smartphone, your lock awning about greets you first. What’s on castigation appropriate now? Notifications? Some banal wallpaper abstraction? The time and date? You can do better! You should do better.
You can adjudge for yourself the admeasurement to which you appetite to aroma your lock awning up, but you owe it to yourself to accord it a little added action than it’s got appropriate now.
First, some basal housekeeping. You’ve already got a PIN or a arrangement attention your accessory (a PIN is safer, for whatever it’s worth). You can fine-tune your aloofness a little further, though. Go to Settings, tap Lock awning and security, and arch to Notifications on lock awning (these ability accept hardly altered names depending on your specific accessory and Android version, but it’ll be appealing bright area to go). From there, you can adjudge which apps are accustomed to bug you—we acclaim “none” if possible—and how abundant agreeable they’re accustomed to show. About speaking, it gives you the advantage to adumbrate what’s in your texts from your lock screen, about a acceptable alarm if you alive with or adjoining to snoopers.
But why stop there? Accept a little fun! (Note: “Fun” actuality is acutely relative).
You’re not activity to get a ton of new functionality out of a lock awning app; you’re mostly activity for the attending here. Also, apperceive that they’re disproportionately buggy. Accomplish abiding to analysis not aloof for ratings and reviews, but the date of the best contempo update, and abstain apps that attending like their developers accept bare them.
All that said, there are a few abeyant upgrades out there. Go Locker offers a agglomeration of capacity to accept from (including, yes, an iOS look), as able-bodied some advantageous shortcuts. Microsoft has a solid access actuality as well; its Next Lock Awning shows your notifications, agenda appointments, and notifications, and messages, but you can additionally configure it to specify what you appetite to see, say, at home against at work.
Full disclosure: I aloof stick with the banal lock screen, because I’d rather aloof use the fingerprint scanner to skip it and get to the acceptable stuff. But hey, it’s still acceptable to accept options.
If afterwards all of this you’re still not annoyed with your Android device’s attending and feel, I accept two pieces of advice. First: Keep fiddling! The appropriate aggregate is out there. Second: Get Tasker.
Tasker’s about as admirable an app as you’ll acquisition in Google Play, and while it’ll amount you a few bucks, it’s account it for the acute akin of ascendancy it gives you over how your smartphone behaves.
It does way, way, way too abundant to awning in an overview adviser like this. But at its heart, Tasker lets you acquaint your accessory to do assertive things beneath assertive circumstances. For instance: Do you like auto-rotation generally, but accept that one app you ambition would break in account mode? Tasker can accomplish that happen. Appetite to accessible Chrome anon into anonymous mode, you sly dog? Tasker’s got your back. Appetite to barrage your admired music app automatically if you bung in your headphones? Not a problem.
Well, maybe tiny problem. Tasker’s interface has gotten added convenient over the years, but abyssal all of its corridors remains, for abridgement of a bigger word, bonkers. There are some solid all-embracing guides out there that will at atomic get you started. And already you accept the basics, well, allotment of the fun is the joy of discovery.
And there you go! An Android smartphone that looks and acts aloof the way you appetite it to. Or at least, abutting abundant for now.
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