I might be an oddball, but at this point in the Android game, I really don’t spend a lot of time customizing my Nexus devices. I’ve got a Nexus 4, and Android has been really usable and very friendly since 4.1 — I haven’t felt like it’s really required me to make any changes. And in all honesty, I prefer it when my phone just works like it should. Android is pretty much there.
But sometimes, I still get the temptation to just fiddle with it and see what I can do and it’s a bit of pain mostly. At this point, there are so many ways to customize your Android device that you’ll have to start Googling just to figure out a good place to start. Kitty Play solves some parts of that problem by aggregating a ton of customization resources within one app. The last time I got the itch to customize, I gave it a whirl. Read on for my thoughts.
For a more thorough approach to customization, check our complete Guide to Customize Everything About Your Android Device.
Kitty Play isn’t exactly the most laboriously explained app in the marketplace. It’s not a launcher and it’s not exactly a store, although it does link straight back to Google Play. It’s more like a marketplace for themes, wallpapers and fonts. Not everything is free, but most of what I checked out was.
As you browse through the app, you’ll notice the insane amount of categories. It’d be hard not to find something you’d like if you’re interested in getting new wallpapers. There are more font options than you could shake a stick at, although they do require root access and some of them leave more than a little to be desired (although I was glad to see high-quality stuff like Quicksand available).
The app supports all sorts of launchers, which is great, and it’s easy to sort themes by launcher. So if you’re using Nova or GO, you won’t find any shortage of themes to try out. That’s a good thing. The app is a little geared towards GO apps, though. It’s got themes for GO Locker, GO SMS and GO Weather as well.
There’s nothing inherently wrong with that, unless you’re like me and you’re not really a big fan of GO in the first place. In that case, Kitty Play might leave a little something to be desired. But it’s hard to blame that on Kitty Play — after all, most of the Android community seems nuts about the GO lineup of apps.
More than anything else, quality matters with a product like this. It’s an aggregator of all of the “best” and “highest-quality” customization tools on the market. It’s supposed to make customizing your phone even easier. But if it doesn’t make your phone more beautiful, why bother?
The app has mostly good content, although I’m certainly not one to say it’s all priceless. I don’t like a lot of the fonts, and I’m extremely picky about my wallpapers and themes. I’ve tried out a couple of nice-looking ones, but the list is far from exhaustive. If Kitty Play is an editorial team looking for the best themes and customization options, they’re making some fine choices, but I wouldn’t make them my one-stop shop.
My Real Complaints
If that was the end of the app, not only would this be an awfully short review, but it’d also be a little bit of a cop-out. Kitty Play is supposed to make customizing your phone easier. (Side note: It’s worth noting there’s not a lot of tablet support here.) The real question I need to ask is simple: Does it?
Truthfully, one of the things I like least about customizing an Android phone is that it’s not as user-friendly as it could be. It’s not the simplest of procedures. Nobody’s breaking down the process for users and explaining it in the phone itself, which is a shame because even Windows seems to do that part right in their documentation.
With an absence of documentation, Kitty Play is going to be an exploration of patience for some novice users who realize they have to download a “launcher app,” or that wallpaper just can’t be tapped, but it has to be downloaded and then set as a wallpaper. I know these things, and because you’re reading this blog, it’s likely you know these things. But my barometer for simplicity is based on whether or not my mother could pick up an app and know how to use it. She wouldn’t understand Kitty Play, and since my mother isn’t stupid (for a woman approaching fifty, she’s actually quite tech-savvy), I have to assume that others won’t “get” Kitty Play either.
This isn’t necessarily Kitty Play’s fault. I don’t think it should be up to any one developer to hold a user’s hand throughout the entire process of customizing a phone. In fact, part of the fault lies with Google for not finding better ways to address this purpose within the Android documentation.
But in the absence of instructions from Google themselves, Kitty Play should be striving to make updating the phone as simple as possible. A little documentation and hand-holding couldn’t hurt the app, and might actually further differentiate it from its competition.
I’m not going to rain on anybody’s parade here — customizing an Android phone can be a lot of fun. Kitty Play tries to make that more fun by offering a central hub where people can find new themes and launchers and get easy access to them.
For the most part, Kitty Play succeeds. It’s not quite good enough to make it a one-stop shop, but beginner Android users are going to appreciate the aggregation that the developer is doing. I only wish that some of the in-app instructions were a little more user friendly. If that were the case, Kitty Play could be a great and instant recommendation for any new Android phone owner.