Personalize your Android home screen

The Android home screen that comes pre-built (also called as stock) has limited customization options. There are apps, launchers that spices up your home screen giving you more options for customizing it. Most of these launchers doesn’t work on lower resolution phones. I am going to talk about 3 launcher apps, out of those 2 works on low-screen-res phones. These are Smart launcher, Go launcher EX and Launcher 8. Launcher 8 is different, it puts a Windows 8 skin on the home screen, and is yet to be updated for low-screen-res phones.

Smart Launcher – on Google Play

If you are on Android version less than 4, or you don’t have Android ICS (Ice Cream Sandwich) or Jelly bean (JB) installed yet, Smart launcher gives you that experience. There’s a ICS/JB skin, that you have to install it separately, once you have installed Smart Launcher. You can do that by going to the preference, which is found on the top right of the screen (image below), and then find “skin” on the preference list. There are many skins to choose from, about 35 skins and each one of these is a separate install.

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Your home screen will look like the first image above, and the apps is bought into view by tapping on the bottom-left (3×2 square icons), The apps are categorized – utilities, music/video/cam, games, internet and phone. Youtube app goes into Internet category.

The smart launcher has support for widgets, gestures and plugins. The basic gestures are available in the free version, advanced ones are only available in the pro version. Similarly a lot of things are in the free version, just a few ones are in the pro. Pro version is about $3.99. Not sure thought, it might vary by a few cents, as I only see it in my local currency. From settings, you can set the status bar visibility – show or hide, you can set the screen orientation – portrait or landscape and more options…

Long press on the home screen to add items to it, change wallpaper and lock the phone. Like wise long press on the existing ones to remove. You can also change the icons from there.

You can revert back to the default stock home screen only by force stopping it from the Android settings, you don’t have to remove it.

GO Launcher EX – on Google Play

While the ICS/JB skin on the Smart launcher is cool, what if you already have ICS/JB on your phone, and want to have a change. You might want to give Go launcher EX a try. Some features of Go launcher is similar to IOS, for example long pressing the icons on the apps screen, makes the icons shake like in the IOS. So there are lot of bells and whistles in this launcher. If you are tired of horizontally scrolling the apps, you can change it to vertical scroll.

When you first install, you need to download about 5 – 7 widgets for each of the functionality. For instance you need to download the weather widget.

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The apps screen is interesting that has recent and running tab. You can see the apps ran recently or the ones currently running on the background. You get to the apps screen by tapping the middle icon. The middle icon is a toggle home/apps screen.

There is Hide app feature, that hides the app you set to hide from appearing on the app screen. There are others as well (image below),

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Clean cache again takes you to the play store to download an app that does this job. I am not becoming a fan of this app, because there are so many parts that needs to be installed separately. Atleast if the weather app comes pre-installed, it wouldn’t bother me much, but taking a look at the downloads this app has got, looks like I need to spend more time on the app to learn it before liking.

Launcher 8 – on Google Play

This is a colorful launcher, with Windows 8 like tiles, ability to change background wallpaper… This is a unique launcher. If you like the windows 8 phone then this is for you to try. With the live tiles, and a bigger tile for apps, it is easier to access the basic apps. Yes you can resize the tiles. The wallpapers are attractive.

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Windows 8 fans, rejoice!

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