One of the reasons for choosing Android over iOS is the extra customisation options you get—you can really dive deep when it comes to tweaking the appearance of Android, pixel-by-pixel, and there are a huge number of apps around to help. Make use of some or all of these to give your Android device a whole new look.
KWGT—or Kustom Widget Maker—lets you experiment with another of Android’s most customisable features: Its widgets. You get a whole host of example widgets to play around with, and you can then choose to adapt them if needed (or start from scratch completely if you’ve got something specific in mind). Clocks, calendars, media players and more are covered, and there’s the option to pay a one-off $5.99 fee to remove the ads inside the app.
KWGT (free or $5.99)
Phone wallpaper is a good place to start honing your Android customisation skills, and Resplash taps into the popular Unsplash library of free imagery—you’ll find everything from sweeping mountain landscapes to close-ups of gadgets here, with a simple-to-use search function and an ever-changing gallery of photos collected around various themes, curated by the Unsplash team. Applying a new wallpaper only takes a couple of taps.
Launcher apps are the ultimate tools for customising your Android phone, letting you change wallpaper, icons, menus and more with just a few taps. Nova Launcher is one of the leading options in this category, scoring highly in both the number of features it offers and the ease with which you can apply them. Some of the more advanced features, like notification and gesture customisations, require a one-off upgrade payment of about $7.
Nova Launcher (free or $7)
Walli gives you access to one of the best wallpaper collections around, with just about every conceivable topic and art style covered. We also like the playlist feature, which lets you select a group of your favourite pictures that are then rotated through automatically. The app shows ads, with payment split with the artists, though you can pay to remove them.
Zedge starts with wallpapers and then goes further, letting you customise wallpapers with your own flourishes, and replace the ringtones on your device too. After just a few minutes of using Zedge, you can have a phone that looks and sounds substantially different to before: Check out the video wallpapers section, for example, or the popular ringtones list. There’s both free and paid-for content, and you can pay monthly to remove the ads.
Switching up the keyboard on your phone can make a big impact to your experience using it—the keyboard is, after all, something you use almost every time you open up your phone. SwiftKey is one of the best in the business, and comes with a variety of themes to change up the colour and the overall look of the keyboard, besides offering a variety of other useful features (you can use your own photos to create custom themes too).
Action Launcher is another of the most popular and most fully-featured launcher apps on the Google Play Store, and together with a lengthy list of features—control over icons, wallpapers, the search box, notifications, docks, widgets, menus, and more—the settings pages are a breeze to get around too. It packs in plenty of intelligent customisation options, though some of the most useful ones require a single $US4.99 ($7) upgrade payment.
Action Launcher (free or $4.99)
Smart Launcher excels in its support for changing up individual icons, widgets, and wallpaper, as well as customising every other aspect of the Android interface fairly effortlessly. It works well at keeping themes consistent no matter what style you’re going for, too. Some of the more advanced features, including extra widget and icon options, need a one-off in-app payment of about $4.
Smart Launcher (free, with in-app purchases between $0.99 to $20.99)
PixBit Pixel Icon Pack
If you’ve got a launcher installed, you’ll find it supports icon packs, which (as the name suggests) replace the icons on your apps with custom-made alternatives. There are some fantastically designed icon packs on the Android app store, so take some time to browse around, but we’ll mention just one of our favourites—PixBit Pixel Icon Pack, which covers just about every icon that you could possibly need, and adds in widgets and wallpaper too.
PixBit Pixel Icon Pack ($2.29)