Smartphones are helpful, aren’t’ they? Too bad they ALL look alike, especially the Google Android smartphones. You can personalize them all you want with a custom Screen Protector and phone Case as I’ve recommended in How to make your own Cleaning Fluid and Cleaning Tips for your Smartphone or Tablet. But they all STILL look like a rectangular slab of plastic, circuit board and Glass that seem to eat and drink power and show no signs of getting smaller. But what about the appearance of the Android OS in these smartphones?
Why does being part of the “Smart” Crowd means that my smartphone has to be boxy and have the same boring appearance as everyone elses? Well today, I’ll show you a cool DIY (Do It Yourself) for your smartphone that allows you to Dress up your smartphone in your Style using Android Launchers.
Aftermarket Firmware Replacements – ROM were once hot with the IT Crowd but they are so 2010
Back in the good ‘ole days i.e. 2010, all Google Android smartphones used to a little different. Fast forward to the Second Decade of the 21st Century in 2014! That’s changed somewhat with each successive improved Android OS up to Jellybean and now KitKat, but customization has been limited to mostly Wallpapers and Screensavers that come with Android OS or made from pictures on your smartphone.
Some very adventurous lot, whom I’ll heretofore refer to as the “IT” Crowd, choose to effectively jail-break their smartphones using what are formerly called Aftermarket Firmware Replacements or more colloquially ROM’s. These are programs packs that once installed, give your smartphone the equivalent of superpowers that were reserved only for….well…. the “IT” Crowd.
Quick note: The “IT” Crowd, a variation of the “Smart” Crowd, are a crafty, technical lot of picky Gremlins that love to modify their smartphones via Jail-breaking using ROMS.
Unfortunately ROMS are expert-level stuff, dear reader! ROMS are basically a reinstallation of a modified Google Android Operating System, akin to installing Linux OS or another version of Windows on your Desktop or Laptop computer. Consequently, not only is it time-consuming, but it basically voids your warranty.
If you find that amusing, being as you’re a Jamaican, then consider this; if you DON’T follow the exact instruction for the ROM, you can PERMANENTLY brick your smartphone! With that Sword of Damocles hanging over your head, ROMs have moved from being the in-thing to a pariah in the “IT” Crowd, with many looking to Jail-breaking as an escape from the design prison that’s Google Android’s bland cookie-cutter design.
Android Launchers – No relation to Jolly Rancher but a Sweet Dream for those in ROM’s Nightmare
Enter the Android Launcher to save us from bricking our smartphones with a ROM….or a lack of reading the instructions!
Android Launchers have become popular because of what they’re not. They’re NOT Android OS replacements but rather overlays on your existing Operating System. They basically programs that come with packs of icons graphics and firmware that modify the look and feel of your smartphone Home Screen as well as how it loads and runs Apps. Effectively they’re the Google Android equivalent of Theme Packs use on Desktop and Laptop computers that run the Windows 7 or 8 OS to change the Theme.
Interestingly, they’re installed in the same manner as you’d install and update to your smartphones Android OS, even requiring that you restart your smartphone. To this end, almost all Android Launchers fall into one of two (2) categories, based on their functionality:
- “Smart” or Adaptive Launchers
- Design Launchers
“Smart” or Adaptive Launchers are basically Home Screen Replacements. They rearrange the way your various Home Screen and the other screens displays Apps and other built in functions and create new and exciting ways to more efficiently access your Apps and Smartphone Functionality.
“Smart” Launchers have intuitive software built into them that also tracks your usage of your apps and actually re-arranges the placements of your apps. Some can even determine your mood and the time of day and change the Icons and themes to put you in a better mood! Hence why they’re called “smart”!
Design Launchers modify the Home Screen Icons and Wallpapers. They are basically a watered down version of the “Smart” Launchers and really adjust the appearance of your Wallpapers, Icons and custom settings for your Apps. Effectively, they turn your smartphone into a Personal Assistant.
Icon Packs offered by the various Design Launchers websites can you can download to customize your Home Screen to its zenith with a variety of themes that come with packs of screensavers and customized Icons designed by the community that support a particular Launcher. They are more hands-on, less intuitive and basic, hence the “Design” in their name.
Note to the Reader: “Smart” Launchers are harder to make, as they require more programming knowledge. To this end, they’re a rarified bunch compared to the Design Launchers but result in a more satisfying, more polished approach to modifying your Google Android smartphone.
How to Install a Launcher – Smart or Design, the Best Stuff is always Free
Using any Android Launcher can be a daunting task but trust me, they’re quite safe. Fortunately the best ones are free, with upgrade options that’ll cost you less than US$10 (JA$1200). Installation is easy; just go to Google and search for the name of the Android Launcher and navigate to the website on your Desktop or Laptop computer.
Here’s a list of some of the Best Launchers categorized by the Type of Launcher:
- Buzz Launcher
- Go Launcher EX
- Go Launcher Prime
Then download the Launcher and follow the instructions, which usually involve you connecting your smartphone via its Data Cable to your Laptop or Desktop computer and running the Launcher to install.
That’s It folks. Join the “IT” Crowd without bricking your smartphone with a ROM by strapping yourself into an Android Launcher and blasting off into a new experience on your Android Device.
T-Minus 10, 9, 8, 7, 6 ,5………..
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