Be together. Not the same.
One of the things that people love about Android is how easy it is to customize and personalize. The companies that make the phones we all love have no desire to restrict us to keep the design and style they use, and nobody cares how beautiful or gaudy we make things. Some even provide a theme engine to make it easy to mix things up with one tap.
Everyone does things a little differently, and that includes the staff here at Android Central. This week we’re going around the table so each of us can show how we do it, and of course, we want to see how you do it, too!
For me, it all starts with Google Now Launcher — or, the stock launcher when using my Pixel. I don’t necessarily mind the stock launchers on most other phones, but when it comes to keeping things visually consistent between phones I like to toss Now Launcher on them all. I also really like having the Google Now feed just a swipe away.
I use a single home screen, with a large portion dedicated to the Google Calendar widget so I can always see what’s happening at a glance. I only use a couple of folders — primarily my “tools” folder that has things like Drive and Dropbox, travel apps and banking apps. The rest are single apps arranged from bottom to top in terms of how many times I use them.
I think it’s a pretty standard roster of apps, but I really don’t end up going into the app drawer all that often. This dozen or so apps on the home screen get me through most days.
I used to be ambivalent about setting up all of my phones the same way. I’d either use the default launcher and haphazardly create folders on my main screen, or I’d just leave the home screens alone and use the app drawer. Well, old me is disgusting.
These days, I have a Nova Launcher backup on Dropbox that I use for every new phone, and it’s amazing. I have my 15 most important apps on the home screen and a number of secondary important apps in folders on the screen to the right. Then, simple Google Calendar and Todoist widgets and I’m good to go.
Nova Launcher recently got even better with a recent beta update that added native Google Feed support. I’m in love.
As for icon packs, I messed around with a bunch of them before settling on the simplest: Pixel Icon Pack. This set of icons mimics what you’d find on the Google Pixel, round icons and all, and it’s great. I have yet to find an icon that’s not perfect.
I’ve experimented with other launchers, and on devices like the OnePlus 5, Google Pixel and Moto Z2 Play I tend not to change the launcher since I’m quite happy with the stock experience. Aside from Nova, however, I’m quite fond of Evie Launcher, which is new and still growing in popularity. My next go-to icon pack is Dives, which has a great selection of icons and is perfect for when I feel like something different.
I don’t tend to change what’s on my home screen very often, primarily because once I find a setup that I like, I tend to stick with it. I installed a Beauty and the Beast theme a few months ago, and haven’t really touched or adjusted anything since.
I’ve got a widget up top for my music player, the weather, and a few groups of the apps I use most often. This includes the Google Suite, all of my messenger apps, and social media. I’ve also got it set up so that Google Play and my camera can both be launched with just the press of a button.
I don’t spend too much time thinking messing with themes or tweaking the app icons on my phone because I prefer a minimalist look and like to keep things simple. If I’m going to install my own launcher, it’s typically going to be Google Now. Currently, my home screen is quite bare, with just a few widgets (Spotify, Weather, and Google Search) and my home row of the stock apps that I rely on a daily basis.
I use the second screen to store all my most-used apps, and I’ve actually been testing out a new layout on the taller Galaxy S8. By default, new apps populate from the top-left corner down, but that’s quite the stretch for my thumb when I’m using the phone with just my right hand. So I determined the natural range of motion of my thumb and mapped my go-to apps within that grid. Also props to Samsung for their Game Launcher app, which keeps all my games in one place without cluttering the home screen.
Well, my home screens change a lot for my many, many theming articles, but they’ve been especially chaotic of late as I deviate from my modus operandi of dock folders. I’ve been using dock folders for the last five years, and while they’ve worked wonders for me, I get that not everyone is onboard with them. So I’ve ditched the dock entirely and taken to have a small array of apps scattered about the home screen in various places depending on the theme.
While the icon layouts have changed a lot in the last month, my widgets have barely changed. I’m still in love with the themeability of Material Music Komponent for KWGT, which I can easily color match to my wallpaper using the hex codes extracted by Kolorette. 1Weather’s widgets might not be quite as themeable as KWGT, but they’re a hell of a lot easier to set up, and they link to my favorite weather app when I need to see forecasting outside the newscasts I direct. I will say that Google Search widgets have been making a comeback on my recent themes, both to remind me of the Google Now pane Nova Launcher Beta added and to help add another color pop on my screens.
Check out my many home screen themes from this month on Google Photos and tell me if there are any themes here you’d like to see instructions for on Android Central. I’ve also been experimenting with themes in Action Launcher and Evie Launcher to give my beloved Nova Launcher a break, so if you want theme instructions for another launcher, give me a shout!
Florence “my home screen is plain af” Ion
This is my home screen. It’s the stock Pixel launcher, with stock fonts and stock icons and everything is stock, stock, STOCK! I want none of your fancy graphics or crazy involved theming engines. All I want out of life is a simple home screen that’s easy to navigate.
I’ve been honestly working on my perfect home screen since the first day I brought home an Android smartphone. Do you remember how limiting iOS was/is/will always be? And how you could only display your icons in a grid across various screens? Why bother with all of that when you can do what you like with the Android interface? I certainly did what I like. I kept it simple.
My home screen life is pretty tame. I’ve got the most important apps in my world all at the top, including Snapchat, Instagram, and Twitter. There are also two small widgets provided by HDWidgets that help indicate when my next alarm is and when the sun will rise and set. Below that, I’ve shortcuts to all the important Google stuff; I’ve got Allo and Android Pay in the application dock, wedged right there between the stock camera app, the dialer, and Android Messages. The apps in this row are the ones I rely on most frequently and I’ll swap them out depending on where I’m at in life.
The BlackBerry KEYone and the launcher’s keyboard shortcuts mean I don’t need home screen icons.
Android 7.1.1 and its System UI Tuner means I don’t have to have a buttload of icons across my status bar. Except for that pesky VPN notification.
I put a clock and weather widget there so I know when the screen is on. The widgets are part of the Lines icon set, which is pretty close to the way old BBOS 7 themes looked.
Less is more, yo. I’m good like this.
We all really want to check out how you do it.
Take a minute to dump a screenshot post in the AC Wallpapers, Ringtones, and Themes forum then kick us a link in the comments. We know some of y’all can do amazing stuff, so share it!