If you ever come across someone complaining about the way an Android OS looks, tell them they are gravely mistaken.
Androids are all about customisation. If you don’t like how a manufacturer’s setup your phone, say Xiaomi’s rather unexciting take on Android or Oppo's adaption of iOS, all you'll need to do is slap a new launcher on and tweak it to your heart’s content. Launcher’s aren’t just themes; they significantly change the look and arrangement of apps and how the phone is organised in general. That’s how you really get the most out of an Android.
The focus today is on Nova Launcher, the most popular and customisable one of the lot. It comes with plenty of options and features, and today we’ll run through all you need to know to fall in love with your phone all over again.
Import your old layout
Not the first time using Nova? Or perhaps you’ve been eyeing your friend’s beautiful layout and wish it was yours. Nova allows you to transfer layouts via files, so simply open "Nova Settings > Back up and import settings > Import", and follow the instructions to get your layout back.
Bear in mind that not all your data will be successfully moved from one phone to another, so you may need to head back and re-do some of your setup. But this should save you a lot of time.
Change your home screen icons
Not all editions of Android allow for alternate icons and skins, but you can with Nova Launcher. Head to the Google Play Store and download pretty much any icon pack you like. A personal favourite is the Pixel Icon pack based on Google Pixel icons – they’re all in a standardised circular shape which is really nice to look at. You also have access to an entire pool of other icons to mix and match to your heart’s content – we’ll talk about that later.
Apps vary between each Icon Pack, but it generally requires you to select your specific Launcher (not all icon packs are compatible), and hit apply. Click the home button and you should see a brand-new home page.
Further edits to the icons
After applying your icons, head over to the main page to further edit these icons. There are several things you can change here - The app label (you may find you don’t even need one), the type of notification badge, and if you tap on the icon, it’ll bring you to icon customisations which we are incredibly excited about.
Here is where you can edit the shape of your app icons, and even access libraries of icon shapes and designs. With the Pixel Icon Pack, you have an entire database of designs to choose from – not a fan of how the Pixel Camera app looks? Change it with another one of the many camera icons in their list.
This is particularly handy with folders, which don’t need to look like a collection of mini-icons against a shadow, but can have its own unique icon to suit your needs. Check out mine in the image above – an icon with a suit for all my apps for work and school.