These days, the only thing your eyes view more than your phone's home screen is the backside of your eyelids. So it goes without saying that whatever picture you have as your background gets old pretty fast.
Every mainstream Android home screen app looks and behaves almost exactly like Google's Pixel Launcher. It's the trendsetter, like the Nexus Launcher before it. But when all your options are modeled after the same thing, that really takes the "custom" out of "custom launcher."
One of the easiest ways to change up your Android experience is by swapping out the stock launcher with a new one. The word "launcher" is Android lingo for "home screen app," and it's a common term because of how easy it is to switch to a new one. So if you're looking to revamp your home screen, this guide's for you.
Things tend to get noisy when you're in a big group chat, which is why the notification sound for that thread shouldn't be your standard, attention-grabbing ringtone. But you don't want to set the default notification sound to something too subtle, otherwise you'd miss messages that actually matter.
Android 11 made a pretty significant UI change to the menu that appears when you press and hold your power button. Google created an entirely new system that apps can use to populate quick toggles in this menu, but the trouble is, not many apps are using this system yet.
The Pixel 5's beautifully slim and symmetric bezels don't leave much room for extra hardware like a notification LED. But with the Ambient Display feature and an inventive app, you can turn the display cutout for the front-facing camera into an animated notification indicator.
Android's status bar is ever-present. It sits at the top of almost every screen in every app, making it the most prominent part of your Pixel's theme. So it only makes sense that Google would give you a way to change the icons it uses.
Android 11 has a new power menu with integrated contactless payment cards and smart home toggles. It's definitely futuristic — so much so that it pushed out a tool many of us use in the present: the screenshot button.
Customization has always been the main draw of Android for me, but Apple has an impressive feature on iOS 16 that lets iPhone users create customized emoji wallpapers for their home and lock screens. While Android doesn't have something like that built-in by default, it's easy enough to make emoji wallpapers for your Android phone.
While you can use Google Assistant on your Android phone to identify songs playing around you, you may still prefer Shazam's music recognition service, which has been available on Android since 2008 — a full nine years before Google Assistant's audio-fingerprinting technology. If that's the case, it's even easier now to Shazam songs in seconds, no matter what screen you're on.
Nova Launcher can be customized to do just about anything, but that can get overwhelming. If you're mostly interested in getting a Pixel-like experience, you'd normally have to spend all day tweaking mundane settings like dock padding and drop shadow placement. Well, we've already done that for you.
When an app needs to be absolutely sure it won't be cleared from RAM by Android's memory management system, it posts a persistent, ongoing notification. Another time you'll encounter non-removable alerts is when your phone or carrier really wants you to do something, like apply an update.
Google's "At A Glance" widget gives you the current weather conditions and upcoming events from your Google Calendar in a handy spot right at the top of your home screen. But on Pixel phones, this widget is permanently embedded into the launcher, so you can't just long-press it to remove it.
In Android 11, music player controls have been moved from the notification tray to the Quick Settings. The change frees up space for the new Conversations notification section. It also adds media output controls, making it possible to switch from your phone speakers to a Bluetooth device with only two taps.
Samsung's stock Galaxy Themes system leaves much to be desired with its restrictive and expensive theme packs. Back in the day, the gold standard for Android theming was CyanogenMod Theme Engine. And while it no longer exists, a successor has emerged to fill the void.
After more than a decade, iPhones are finally getting widgets on the home screen. They even have that Apple aesthetic that many people crave, with their uniform, squircle appearance. But fret not, as with pretty much any iOS feature, you can get them on Android with a tiny bit of work.
Not trying to gatekeep here, but if you're not customizing things on your Android phone, you're doing it wrong. Still, I won't shame you for not knowing what to do if you take this time to learn how to make one of the biggest changes you can make.
How To: Permanently Disable the 'Software Update' Notification on Your Samsung Galaxy — No Root Needed
Updating your Galaxy to the latest software version is optional, but you wouldn't know that from the persistent notification and status bar icon that are constantly reminding you to. Thankfully, you're just an app away from hiding these eyesores without the need to update your phone.
How To: Permanently Remove the 'No SIM Card Inserted' Notification on Your Samsung Galaxy — No Root Needed
Your Galaxy's lock screen already lets you know there's no SIM card installed if it's missing on your device, so there's really no need to have a persistent icon for it on the status bar. If you want to hide the pesky symbol and accompanying notification for good, there's a nifty app you need to check out right now.
Despite Android's flexibility in regards to customization, the options available in stock Android are pretty barebones. It is only with the help of third-party apps that we can entirely transform sections of the UI to our liking. And thanks to a new app, we can modify another part of the OS, the status bar.