There are countless things you can do with your android phone to make it look much better and make it more productive as well
In the smartphone universe, there has always been a huge battle waging between two technological powerhouses – Apple and Google. Much like the rivalry between Mac and Windows, the smartphone sphere also consists of fanatics who support one over the other. In many ways, Apple and Google are at par when it comes to usability and features, but one sphere where Google leaves Apple in the dust is customization. Many people like to customize their phones to their liking and get rid of the firmware and bloatware that comes with many smartphones. If you’re a Samsung user, your phone’s bound to come preinstalled with features that you may never use at all, like the SocialHub or their much hyped social chat system ChatOn. HTC is bound to come with these applications as well.
Even the base operating system comes with different flavors in these different phones. HTC has its own User-Interface called the HTC Sense, and Samsung comes with their TouchWiz.
But there are countless things you can do with your android phone to make it look much better and make it more productive as well. Google’s Nexus phones usually comes with the basic version of Android that looks much better and is free from various forms of bloatware, those preinstalled applications that you never end up using.
There are many ways for you to spice up Android smartphones, some as easy as downloading an app from the Google’s Android Marketplace, the Play Store, other much more complex as flashing your base operating system. Installing apps on your phone are relatively safer than installing a third-party system (ROMs) because if something should go wrong while you’re installing a custom ROM, your phone might be rendered completely unusable but the chances of this happening is rather slim if you follow the right procedure.
The easier way of add more spunk to your phone would be the countless apps available on the Play Store. You can completely change how your Android looks by changing the home screen, the screen that greets you as soon as you unlock your phone.
LauncherPro is one of these home screens that provide you with a lot of new features and visual effects. It comes with an abundance of screen transaction effects, and what’s more, it offers you three docks at the bottom of your screen that you can scroll through.
GoLauncher is another choice that doesn’t just limit itself to the home screen because it comes with a lot of system applications that are equally well designed, like the Go Task Manager.
If you want a more Windows phone kind of an interface, then you want to consider trying out MetroUI.
Customization on Android, however, isn’t only limited to Home screens, as you can even change how your lock-screen behaves. One underrated lock-screen replacement application that was a joy to use was Livelocker because of its circular unlock bar that comes with many new android phones. But if you happen to be stuck with an older version of Android, this will be a joy to use.
GoLocker is another application that performs equally well and comes with an abundance of themes to make your lock screen look just as you want it to.
WidgetLocker is another great app and is unique in the way that it lets you pin applications to your lock screen. You can add up sliders and configure which application they open up right from your lock screen.
Now we come to the difficult process of installing custom ROMs on your phone. Bear in mind that installing these ROMs can brick your phone, rendering it completely unusable. Also, to install these, you need to root your phone, meaning you need to force your phone to give you access to the restricted parts of it. This will dissolve any kind of warranty you might have with your smartphone dealer.
But rooting is extremely easy. Google up rooting for the phone you own and you’re sure to find countless results. You’ll also need to install a third part recovery system, which is the BIOS of your phone.
Then comes the process of installing a custom ROM. It’s highly recommended that the installation of a third-party custom ROM be taken very carefully because of the complexity of its nature (you’re throwing out everything your smartphone company put into your phone and installing built by a community).
Custom ROMs are built differently to the plethora of Android phones out there. So if you want to flash your ROM, all you need to do it go to forum.xda-developers.com and look for your phone and the ROM that you want or a Google Search would come up with countless results, although the complexity of the process of installing these ROMs can be beneficial in many ways. Like if you have an old phone that’s not getting an update to the latest version of Android, a custom ROM will bring you up to par (my old Samsung Galaxy Ace is running Ice Cream Sandwich). They also don’t come with any bloatware which would mean a lot of free internal space for applications.
If you do plan to install custom ROMs, I would recommend looking up CyanogenMod because of its wide device support and because its stability and default Ice Cream Sandwich look. It runs Ice Cream Sandwich and comes loaded up with many of its features and it also seems that a Jellybean (latest Android) is also under development.
Another very well designed ROM that boasts a clean white interface would be the MIUI Rom. It’s very stable and has a wonderful design. MIUI offers a more iPhone-like navigation because it doesn’t offer an app drawer and all of your installed apps appear on the home screen itself.
An Android phone is yours in its truest sense. So have fun with it. Customize it, change it and play with it as much as you like. iPhones lack this capability because Apple expects its users to stay limited to their own software; but with an Android phone, the reins are in your hands.
The writer is The Week’s much loved tech guru. Email us your tech queries at firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll have him answer them for you.