Don’t like the wallpaper preset on your smartphone? Do you want other app icons or a different user interface?? All this is easily doable with Android smartphones. Namely, except for a few details, your smartphone can be completely personalized.
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Wallpapers for Android with and without animation
The first and most obvious change is the background image. Either you take a nice photo and select it as background in the gallery or you download one of the many backgrounds to be found on the net. Alternatively, there are also animated live wallpapers. They will cost you a few minutes of battery life, but give you vivid images on the home screen.
There are even live wallpapers with swimming fishes. / © NextPit
A completely new look with an alternative launcher
The next big hit in terms of smartphone personalization is to change the launcher. The launcher is the area you see after turning on the device or pressing the home button. It manages your app selection and acts as the logistical center for all your app activity.
Here are now countless different variants to choose from. From complex launchers with countless customization options to minimalist variants with special controls and gestures. Be sure to try out different launchers, because they can make it easier for you to use them. Some smartphones even get a little faster with alternative launchers.
Some launcher turns your smartphone into an iPhone clone. / © NextPit
New icon packs
Some alternative launchers allow you to set up and use icon packs. This puts an end to the annoying problem that the different icons on the homescreen and in the app drawer don’t have a consistent look. Icon packs are therefore hugely important for an ambitious change of interface. There are free and paid ones in the Play Store. Here you can find some inspirations:
Some manufacturers like Huawei, Honor or OnePlus have already integrated the possibility to select other icons for the home screen into their own operating system. Here is even the option with so-called themes to make the complete surface look different.
New tones for Android
Of course the own ringtone may not be missing. On Android, switching to your favorite song or a downloaded audio is done relatively easily:
- Copies an audio file (list of compatible formats) from the PC into Ringtones, Notifications or Alarms.
- Then go to Settings> Sounds (alternatively: Sound and notifications) > Advanced And selects the downloaded file as a ringtone or default notification tone.
Ready is your personal ringtone. You can find more detailed instructions here:
An appealing ringtone makes for less monotony. / © NextPit
Two of the most popular apps and good sources for free ringtones for your Android smartphone are:
Zedge is also available as an app and finances itself through full screen advertising videos. Preferably opens the app in WLAN. In Zedge you also get wallpapers and icons.
Improve handling: Optimize notifications and lock screen
Do you receive many emails, push messages and other notifications?? Do you want to have your smartphone on the table, but want to have a quick look at incoming messages?? Of course! For this, many manufacturers now have always-on features or those with names like At a Glance, Inactivity display or Ambient Display integrates.
Notific : Lockscreen Notifications
If your smartphone doesn’t offer this feature, the app Notific will help you with it. And it goes like this: Notific shows you incoming messages even when the display is off. This gives you an immediate view of the received message. Of course you can filter which apps you want to be informed about.
Notific / © Screenshots: AndroidPIT Notific : Lockscreen Notifications
Start Lock creen
The Start Lock Screen reminds a bit of the popular, but discontinued Next Lock Screen by Microsoft. The goal of the app is to provide you with as much information as possible from the lockscreen, so you don’t have to unlock the phone at all. There is a web search, various password locks, widgets, tools, news, weather, app shortcuts and more.
For hobbyists: customize your smartphone with and without root
A new launcher is quickly installed, just as quickly a wallpaper is set up. With these means, you can already customize a lot, but you still can’t get to some functions and design aspects of your smartphone this way. For example the notification bar. If you want to make adjustments here, you have to be prepared to install more than just a simple app, if the manufacturer doesn’t give you this option on its own.
Substratum: The theme engine for Android
For smartphones with Android Oreo, there is for example the theme engine Substratum, which you can also install without root. But it takes several steps to set up Substratum. Especially without root you have to face a multi-step process. First, install the theme engine from the Play Store and the optional plugin that allows Substratum to work root-free – the latter costs a one-time fee of 1.99 Euros.
But that alone is not enough. You have to enable USB debugging in the developer settings and install the substratum client on your Windows PC, Mac or Linux computer. Now start the substratum app. Connect smartphone and PC and follow the instructions on your smartphone. The activation of substratum via PC you have to repeat after each restart of your smartphone, which is either annoying or impractical. Root users have nothing to do with activation via PC.
Only now can you get started with substratum. But how! Themes can be found in the Play Store and downloaded via the app. substratum allows to customize all aspects of the UI, so complete mods are possible. You prefer that your smartphone sees black?
Or you want your homescreen background to shine through each app?
Meanwhile, there are a lot of themes for substratum in the Play Store and you can be sure that hardly any other user has this design on his smartphone.
Xposed: Nothing works without root
Large scale changes to Android are possible with the help of Xposed. This framework requires root, so that you can install it at all. So first root your Android smartphone. After rooting, you can install a custom recovery and then install modifications on the system level. And this includes just the Xposed framework. We’ll introduce you to this along with a handful of other rooted apps in the separate article.
Most modules change only small aspects of the Android interface. Occasionally they only close functional gaps or even fix bugs. In the case of GravityBox, however, it goes much further and allows you to completely rebuild your interface. However, the module is only recommended if you have a fairly stock Android; Samsung Experience or Huawei EMUI will probably crash with GravityBox.
On some devices, you can also change the entire firmware (will also be ROM called) exchange. Third party developers are often dedicated hobbyist programmers who have either developed their own ROM close to the Android Open Source Project (AOSP) code, or who have compiled and tested LineageOS for your smartphone. If they are listed as Release If you are using a virus scanner that is mentioned in this list, it is considered to be stable and is a useful replacement for the pre-installed firmware. We have prepared a custom ROM type advice in a separate article.
What do you use to customize your smartphone to your liking?
These tips and tricks are updated regularly. Existing comments may therefore refer to earlier variants of the article and appear out of context.