Posts Tagged

Personalization

I am an Android customization addict and, to be honest, even the word “addict” is an understatement. Two months ago, I would have told you that there should be AA meetings for the kind of compulsion that I had. I kept hundreds of folders of iconsets ready in my Dropbox account, I mastered the dark corners of UCCW and Minimalistic Text, I spent hours every week on MyColorScreen, and even maintained a Google+ photo album as a visual history of the different homescreen designs I have made since 2010.

But most importantly, I installed Nova Launcher on any Android device I had in my hands for more than an hour, and enjoyed tinkering with every single setting the app allowed from gestures to grid layouts and more. Then I got an invite code to join the Aviate Launcher Beta, installed it on my LG G2 and … well, life wasn’t the same anymore. I haven’t had the impulse to switch back from Aviate to Nova in more than six weeks, I haven’t felt the need to change my icons either, and given my history with Android customization, this is the geeky version of a personal miracle.

In the following post, I’ll explain how Aviate won me over from Nova — and Apex, ADW and all their brethren — and why it squashed my urge to tinker with my homescreens every couple of days.

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The personalization of news is a nice idea. It should strip out unrequired stories, leaving behind only those pieces of writing that excite, educate or entertain — AppStorm posts, for instance.

But in my experience, most tailored news apps tend to be a bit…meh. They certainly filter, but rarely with the desired result. Some try to sort stories by keyword — always an inaccurate, spam-ridden approach — while others simply provide broad brushstroke subjects, gathering plenty of content you would otherwise avoid.

So, I’m interested to see how Material, an app which claims to deliver news that is tailored to each user, copes with this challenge. The product of an accomplished developer (Inq), Material has recently been updated with a sleek new design and a batch of new features; critically, though, can it deliver a great mix of content?

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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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Who says Android has to be dull and ugly? This is a misconception that has been perpetuated since the days of the T-Mobile G1 and the first version of Android. The UI might have been basic and quite square back then, but fortunately this isn’t the case now. Thanks to the openness of the ecosystem, a slew of launchers and themes, and various mods, it is now possible to customize every single nook and cranny inside your phone.

As a matter of fact, this world of customization is the main reason I love Android and never get bored of it, even after a year of tinkering. Below, you will find an assortment of tools to help you get started, improve and even master the art of modding your Android interface.

BAZINGA! The Sheldon Cooper homescreen, one of my own setups

BAZINGA! The Sheldon Cooper homescreen, one of my own setups

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A few weeks ago, Joe Casabona wrote an article here detailing the main reasons he loves Android and chooses it over other platforms, with his focus being on the openness of the ecosystem and its advantages towards developers. Although I agree with Joe’s point of view, I have to admit that the reason I moved to Android in the first place was a lot more selfish.

I was a veteran Symbian user but, as a pharmacist, I needed access to more medical applications which Symbian’s Store failed to provide. Medscape‘s availability on Android was the app that made the balance tip and I went for Android. That was a year ago, almost to the day.

However, over this year, I started carefully venturing into rooting, custom ROMs and the modding scene. Just then, Android (excuse the corny metaphor) opened itself to me like a beautiful rose. I love customizing my experiences, especially on mobiles, and Android literally blew me away with how much you can change in order to suit your personality.

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