11 ways to make Android look even better than iOS 7

Your Android smartphone is a caterpillar trapped in a cocoon. Here's how to turn it into a beautiful butterfly

iOS 7's release saw Apple level the playing field against Android's cleaner and comparatively more modern experience. The end result? The most beautiful mobile OS in history.

Sir Jony Ive stripped away the virtual leather stitches and other skeuomorphic elements to create a flat, colourful and modern interface – one that's a million miles away from the stale iOS icons of old.

While Android itself isn't necessarily ugly by nature, the fragmentation of various launchers like HTC Sense and the cartoony assault-on-the-eyeballs that is Samsung's TouchWiz, mean that many Android phones feel downright frumpy next to iOS 7 devices like the iPhone 5s and iPhone 5c.

But where there is Android, there is hope. There's a reason tinkerers choose to fly the green flag of the Android camp. You can customise and dress up Android any which way you see fit, and you can do it straight out of the box with simple tools. And there's no jailbreaking or 1337 h4ck1ng required.

All you need is some taste (we're sure yours is impeccable), a little patience, and a sprinkling of apps...

What is a launcher?

Press the Home button on your Android phone. Boom. Say hello to your home screen.

The home screen is actually part of the launcher, along with your app drawer and all of your app icons. The launcher is therefore a pretty big deal - it's the soul of your smartphone and dictates its appearance.

Manufacturers like HTC, Samsung, Sony and LG replace Android's stock launcher with their own, using their own icons and skins to dictate your device's appearance. Samsung's rather garish TouchWiz (above) is one famous example of a pre-loaded manufacturer-made launcher.

But you don't have to shackle yourselves to what you're given. You can download replacement home screens and supercharge your Android phone with good looks and useful functionality. 

There are plenty of good launchers in the Play Store, and Nova Launcher is widely regarded as one of the best. If you like eye candy then you'll love its selection of 2D and 3D home screen scroll effects, which offer more exciting transitions between different home screens. You can even auto-hide the status bar for a cleaner style. But looks aren't everything…

More after the break...

Clever stuff

Nova also allows you to set gesture controls – a feature so useful that we couldn't ever go back to anything else.

For larger 5in-and-above smartphones it can be quite tricky to pull down Android's Notification bar one-handed. The solution? Set up Nova launcher so that swiping down on any of your home screens will bring down the Notification bar.

If you want to go for a minimalist approach, you can even do away with the app menu button altogether. All you have to do is set up a swipe up gesture to open up your app drawer, and you're done.

Oh look, that clever little trick means you've freed up an some space on your dock. And you can have up to seven items on it too.

Another useful gesture is the ability to use a single icon to open two different apps. Take the camera app icon for example. A single tap will open up the camera. But swiping up on the icon instead can fire up the Gallery app. Two apps, one icon, less clutter. Efficient eh?

And it gets better. One of our favourite features on the LG G2 is its ability to double-tap its home screen to turn off the phone, and you can use Nova to achieve the same effect. There's an app on the Play Store called Screen Off which, you guessed it, turns off your screen. You can set up a Nova shortcut to launch the Screen Off app everytime you double-tap one of your home screens.

You're pretty much only limited by your imagination. You can even make your app drawer transparent so that you can see your wallpaper behind your numerous apps, instead of the usual boring black background. Apps can also be arranged in folders to help sort out the chaos and you make the icons smaller so that you can fit more apps onto a single page.

And that's all just the tip of the iceberg...

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Comments

I would also suggest looking at apps like Awesome Icons in the Play store. They allow you to use icon packs without 3rd party launchers, so they're great for small-scale customization.

https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.momocode.shortcuts

Which theme is the one of the first image? The one in which the wallpaper is a poly mountain. Thx!!

Any reason you failed to mention Buzz launcher?  Much like Themer but it's been around longer and I'm finding it better at present whilst both in Beta.

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