My Quest for a Functional Android Homescreen

2012-11-30 21.36.41

A big reason I stick with Android is because I like to customize. I love the ability to make stuff my own, and Android allows me to make my stock device, well, mine. As most people who have dabbled with Android OS, the sky is truly the limit, even on unrooted devices.

The cool part is the possibility of numerous home screens. Different manufacturer skins paired with third party launchers (Apex, Go, Nova, SPB, LPP etc) and you have some serious magic going on.

I wasn’t satisfied with using multiple pages to store a gazillion apps. I got used to splitting my pages into categories — like Entertainment, Utilities, Travel etc. — and packed them full with widgets. But then, I had to take the time to manage widgets, and frankly, swiping through seven screens really didn’t slice nanoseconds off of just going into the app-drawer. I messed around with different launchers, and fell in love with SPB Shell 3D, which was pure eye-candy. Eventually, I craved theming, and took a break from it.

I decided to try and find the ultimate homescreen(s). For me.

Criteria? Minimum number of screens, minimalist look, with access to my major apps and services. I wanted access to my calendars, email, two texting services, mobile blogging and maybe, just maybe some quick weather information. And yes, I wanted it to be relatively clean.

It took me a while to find a template that invoked my affections. An XDA thread led me to the renown Boss Youtube tutorials, and after some wall-paper help from XDA peeps (thanks Racer For All!) and a self-thought crash course in Photoshop, I had my own non-original creation using Nova Launcher:

Yes, I still have goosebumps.

The original wallpaper started out looking something like this:

The wallpaper is static. I had to learn how to use Photoshop to take off the app names and change the names of the branches.

Most of the screen makes use of hidden folders overlayed on the wallpaper. Minimalist Text makes an appearance at the top (seven “day of the week” widgets mashed together, with the current day automatically toggled to red) and also at the bottom for the Between Realities text. The top day widget invokes my Business Calendar app, and tapping on the Between Realities text opens up the WordPress app which allows me to contribute to three blogs. Minimalist Text also controls the automatic location widget and Beautiful Widget controls the tiny weather widget.

The colored branches and circle quadrants have hidden  folders on top. Basically, they are folders with invisible icons. Tapping the yellow circle portion reveals my “Social” apps:

At the bottom is Nova Launcher dock. Each icons has dual invoke powers (tap and swipe). For example, tapping the icon at the far right pulls up Chrome browser, while swiping starts my camera. The middle icon pulls up the appdrawer or manage applications section. An added function of having a sliding dock is something I don’t use. Yet. This dock is fixed.

But wait… there’s MORE.

That cute Android symbol in the middle of the circle? Settings, baby. Yeah.

I know… is the ROI worth the work? For me, yes. I can get to anywhere on my phone with limited physical interaction, and I like being within a tap/swipe or two of my most used applications. There are a few other ROM-specific tweaks (like dual slide-down notification bar with custom icons and a hidden button to invoke notifications).

The cool thing is that though I use Pro/donate versions for every application listed (except the icon set and notification bar icons), there are free versions for all the apps I used except Beautiful Widgets.

Summary: Nova Launcher, Minimalistic Text, Beautiful Widgets and Trance Blue icon set on rooted HTC EVO 4G LTE. One bad screen.

Thank you.

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Tre Lawrence

Servant, husband, father, writer, learner.

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  1. says

    I like the stock Jellybean launcher. Fortunately someone put it up on the Play Store so that I could install it onto my Galaxy S3 (which was updated to Jellybean, thanks Samsung) without needing to root it and install a custom ROM on it.

    What I usually do is to add a weather widget to my main home screen, and then on either side I put most-accessed games and most-accessed applications. Anything else stays in the app menu.

  2. says

    I don’t think I gave MotoBlur on my Razr more than a day or so as my launcher. I used Go for a long time, but have recently switched over to ADW. It’s faster, leaner and updates less often than Go.

  3. says

    I played with MotoBlur a while back. It is better now, but my deep dislike remains LOL. I do like the stock JB launcher.

    I used to love Go till I started hearing how they were dabbling in air ads. I don’t think the launcher is affected though.

    Breaks my heart to see that LauncherPro has been pretty much abandoned, but Nova fits the bill for me. As long as I have weather and unread counts, I am mostly happy.

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