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home screen

It’s Customization Month on Android.Appstorm! Throughout March, we plan to share with you all our tips, tricks, apps and resources to help you improve your phone or tablet experience and make them suit your style.

At the heart of your Android experience with your device is the launcher — this is the program that allows you to view and start all your apps, add widgets to your home screen and customize the way you interact with your phone or tablet. Setting it up correctly will allow you to not only access the information and tools you need quickly, but also personalize the way the OS looks and feels, to suit your taste.

You’ll want to choose a launcher based on your version of Android as well as your personal needs and preferences, and there’s a vast array of them to choose from in the Play Store — but to get started, you should probably first explore the default launcher that your device ships with — especially if you’re running Android 4.x. Today, I’m going to go over some basic ways of setting up your launcher, with tweaks that are generally available across the spectrum of different launchers to help you get familiar with the possibilities and benefits of doing so.

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Chameleon is Teknision‘s bold attempt to re-imagine and re-invent the way Android home screens look and operate. Their view is that the home screen is what you look at on a device 90% of the time, so why shouldn’t it be fully customizable, tailored to your exact needs?

Earlier this year, the company launched a Kickstarter project, accompanied by a demonstration video of Chameleon. The project raised over $60,000 — over twice what they needed — and the beta has now been released.

In this Preview, let me take you through the current version of Chameleon…

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One of the reasons I chose to get an Android phone instead of one from any other platform was because of the ability to customize practically every aspect of the user interface. Whether you have a problem with the keyboard, need more functionality from the dialer or dislike the default SMS program, there’s an app to help you change and tweak these to your liking.

Similarly, if you’re looking to change the way your icons, widgets and shortcuts are presented, all at once, you can try an alternative launcher. Hi Launcher is one of the new kids on this block, with a functional screen layout, a boatload of options for customization and some clever new features to keep things interesting. Let’s take it for a spin and see if it can become the default launcher on your device.

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Entering an already crowded category of apps with not one but two distinct leaders can be a tough task. And when you actually go head-to-head and pull away a noticeable chunk of the leaders’ market share, it speaks volumes about the developers’ creativity and commitment to the cause.

The Go Dev team members have time and again proven in the last year that they can prove disruptive in pretty much any category they choose to release an app in, and Go Launcher Ex was the app that really established them.

I have to admit, it was the first launcher I gave a serious look. But even after multiple attempts to try the others out, I’ve found myself coming back to and sticking with Go Launcher Ex.

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When we did our first roundup of wallpapers for Android just over a year ago, the response was pretty overwhelming. It wasn’t very surprising given how much emphasis most of us put on choosing the right wallpaper for our screens – mobile, desktop or anything in between. Since it is the most visible part of your Android home screen and is most probably what you see first every time you look at the phone or tablet, to expect to see something beautiful there is quite natural.

Here we are then, a year later and with a fresh batch of 60 more wallpaper images for your phone (or tablet or even your desktop for that matter). A lot of the images we have linked below are available in a variety of resolutions and will therefore suit your needs just fine. Given the crazy variety of screen sizes and resolutions on Android today, you will most probably need to crop the image to fit your screen. Shouldn’t be a problem though, since the OS should take care of letting you do that at the right time.

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ADWLauncher EX is the higher-functioning bigger sibling of ADW.Launcher. It comes with a smattering of extra features and is arguably the most customisable alternative launcher available on Android.

Personally, I came to use ADWLauncher EX very late indeed; after being smitten with LauncherPro for a while, but disappointed when the development on that launcher ceased, I went looking for something else and found ADWLauncher EX. I remain completely open to new launchers and persist in trying new ones out. However, time and time again I always return to ADWLauncher EX. Why do I do this? Why keep coming back? Read on for more…

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If you’ve read other articles here at Android.AppStorm, you’ll notice that we absolutely love the way we can customize our phones’ user interface. The overall look, however, can be attributed to a certain theme for a specified launcher, depending on which one you have installed.

The themes I personally prefer are those that have fewer graphics and more texture; I find that these make it easier for you to view your app icons, and make your home screens look cleaner and clutter-free.

Here are 40 highly recommended themes for launchers like GoLauncher EX, Launcher Pro and ADW Launcher. All these themes are free on the Market.

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Launcher 7 offers an interesting alternative among the wide world of Android launchers. Taking a page from Microsoft’s book, it mimics Windows Phone 7, giving users a simple, tile-based interface. I spent a few weeks with it as my daily driver and although I am a diehard Android fan, it did more than just change how my phone worked. It made me want a Windows Phone.
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QuickDesk is an app that seems so simple in concept, but turns out to be extremely powerful once you begin using it. Once you give it a go, you’ll wonder why it’s not a built-in feature of the Android OS. By providing one-click access to a customizable dashboard, QuickDesk adds a whole different level of efficiency to navigating your device. To put it another way: it allows you to access an app from within an app.

QuickDesk was developed by Faruq Rasid, the man behind Helix Launcher and Calendr+. Given his creations, it seems that Faruq is definitely into being productive and efficient. QuickDesk fits the bill perfectly, allowing you to eliminate unnecessary swiping, tapping, and waiting when trying to get things done on your Android device. (more…)

Today, a majority of the phone’s functionality is controlled by those tiny icons that are arranged neatly on our home screens, launching apps, games and pretty much anything else that we need to do.

The unfortunate truth with Android apps, though, is that most of these icons are not exactly eye candy. And if you are the type who like your visuals co-ordinated and consistent, that’s pretty much a dream with a typical Android setup and a random selection of apps. Fortunately, changing apps’ icons is pretty easy, and there are a lot of beautiful icon sets available for free to help you make everything look sleek and sexy.

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