Whilst everybody knows how to change the wallpaper on their Android homescreen to make it feel a bit more personal, not many people know about all the other customizations that can be done to it. Android is a great mobile operating system when it comes down to personalization and customizations, so if you'd like to make your Android homescreen a bit more unique, read on!
Changing launcher app
Completion time- 3-5 minutes
This is one of the easier ways to change the look and feel of your homescreen but it definitely has one of the biggest impacts on the appearance of your handset. A launcher is in essence the homescreen you see, the app dock you browse through when choosing apps, and a few other menu options that are dedicated to the homescreen.
There are many free launcher apps out there, and most can be downloaded from Google Play. Some launchers offer something new and unique, whilst others are based on Vanilla Android and allow for great levels of customization.
If you're looking for something unique or wacky, check out Splay launcher
If you want a simpler design to customize on top of, ADW, Nova and Apex are all good choices. Dodol launcher is a nice one for those looking to snazz up the Android homescreen without making things look too alien.
Once you've downloaded a launcher app, click on it from your app draw. If you like it, press the home screen again and then confirm it as a permanent launcher so that each time you press home it goes to this launcher instead of your default one. You can also revert to defaults via your settings menu, although depending on your version of Android (Ie. Sense, TouchWiz, Stock) there are different ways to do this so make sure to have a Google before you go ahead and change your launcher so you aren't stuck with something you don't like.
Using UCCW and Creating your Own Launcher
Completion time- a few minutes to a few hours
UCCW is an application that allows you to place custom widgets on top of your homescreen. You could create an image of the world, and then create an invisible widget on top of this image that links to your preferred internet browser.
This is just a simple example but there is a lot UCCW can do to make customization a breeze on Android. It's a bit complicated at first, so i'd advise having a look at some tutorials (a good place is mycolorscreen's Youtube page) to get to grips with it.
Once you've had a look at how UCCW works, there are generally three things you'll want to do. You'll need to create a wallpaper to place on your phone with photoshop, paint or Gimp. You can get really creative here and grab images from the internet without worry because you'll only be using it as a wallpaper. For example, here is something I made in a few hours:
You can then add widgets on top of the wallpaper once it's on your phone to make each piece of writing clickable. And also add widgets to display time, date, battery life and other variables with UCCW.
You'll need a custom launcher, particularly Nova, Apex or ADW if you want to make the most of UCCW. With these launchers you can change the spaces allowed on your desktop for widgets and also remove the notification bar and app dock.
If you want inspiration for a design, check out mycolorscreen.com where you'll see plenty of user submitted designs.
Using UCCW can be tiresome and tricky, and I wouldn't advise it if you have trouble with tech. But if you're a tech-minded user and like to get creative, I highly suggested putting a few hours aside to create something really nice for your phone as it is a great experience.
If you don't particularly like any of the techy stuff, thanks to the power of Android and a great Android developer, you have a much easier alternative. Buzz Launcher is an application that allows you to download and apply user-created homescreens to your own homescreen. They may be made by someone else, but a lot of them look spectacular!
If you want something truly unique but don't want to go through the hassle of making it yourself, Buzz Launcher is definitely the way to go.
When I look at my smartphone everyday, I always feel the need to find something unique to me and my own needs. If you're the same, then hopefully this guide will help you.
If you do find something spectacular, how about posting it in this thread over here and discussing it with the rest of the community.
Zerodudex333 is the username I use on the giffgaff community. I work as a fulltime freelance writer in the mobile & gaming industries. You can learn more about me here and follow me on twitter here.