If you’ve had your Android phone for a while, you might be looking for new ways to customize it or jazz it up a bit. Why not build a beautiful custom homescreen?
(Here’s a before-and-after shot of my own Android homescreen.)
You probably know how to change the wallpaper on your phone, but we’re going a step further this time. The first step on creating your new homescreen is to download a new launcher. What’s a launcher, you ask?
The launcher is the app that sits on top of everything else on your phone—it’s what shows you your homescreen, your app drawer, and your icons. As the name implies, you also use it to launch other apps on your phone. All Android phones come with a built-in, standard launcher, but there are a number of others that you can download.
I’ll be using Nova Launcher to demonstrate, but you can use any launcher you like—Apex, Themer, Buzz, or GO Launcher EX, for example.
The first step is to open the Play Store from your app drawer. Click the magnifying glass in the top-right corner, and search for “Nova Launcher.” You’ll see two options: the free version and the Prime version. For now, we’ll stick with the free one.
Tap on Nova Launcher and hit the “Install” button. Once it’s done installing tap “Open.”
You’ll now see the Nova Launcher settings screen. I’ll leave the discussion of the more advanced features of the launcher for a later tip.
For now, just press the home button on your phone. You’ll be asked which launcher you want to use; select Nova and tap “Always” to make sure that it opens every time you go back to the homescreen.
Once you get to your new homescreen, Nova will ask you if you want to import from another launcher or restore a previous Nova backup. Select “Import from another Launcher.”
And there you have it! You’ve installed a new launcher and you’re ready for the next steps of customization. For now, everything probably looks the same as it did before you set up Nova. But we’ll be making some more exciting changes in the next couple tips.
Before the next tip in this series, play around a bit with Nova. Open up the settings (you can tap on “Nova Settings” in the app drawer to open them) and have a look around.
Open the Desktop tab and try a few different homescreen scrolling effects. Change the dock style and number of icons in it on the Dock tab. Start setting up your phone the way you like it, and watch out for the next tip in this series, where we’ll discuss changing the look of your icons.