Android Free App Recap October 30th – Replacement Home Screen Launchers

Android Free App Recap October 30th – Replacement Home Screen Launchers

Oct 30, 2012

One of the coolest things about owning an Android is the ability to change the look of the home screens. I don’t mean just changing the wallpaper, I mean really changing the look; colors, icons, fonts, you name it. To make these changes, there are a couple of steps. The first is what we will talk about here; changing the home screen launcher.

A launcher is an application made to replace the layout of the Android phone or tablet. Changing the home screen launcher can have benefits other than cosmetic changes. In some cases, changing the launcher can extend Android battery life. For some great theme ideas, take a look at the weekly Theme Thursday article where a new theme for a launcher is reviewed each week.

GO Launcher EX

GO Launcher EX is arguably the most popular home screen launcher in the Google Play Store for phones and tablets. There are tons of add-ons and themes for this and all of the GO Dev products. Add plugins like Go Locker, Go Notifications and different widgets. GO Launcher EX also has more themes than I can count. GO Launcher EX is the base or framework and can be easily changed using a theme. Some themes simply change the colors while other themes change the icons and fonts. Themes range from seasonal to holiday to cartoon characters and everything in-between.

Download GO Launcher EX


ADWLauncher is another popular Android home screen launcher. In fact, ADW is used in many custom ROMs. However, ADW only works on phones. The layout of the launcher is pretty simple. At the bottom there is a 3 application dock. One of the spaces in the dock is set to open the app drawer. If desired, gestures can be used to evoke actions. Swipe a finger to open the app drawer or pinch the screen to go to an app. ADW can also be customized with thousands of themes.

Download ADWLauncher

Nova Launcher

Nova Launcher is a fairly new Android home screen launcher. One of the neat things about Nova is the option to use both GO Launcher EX and ADW themes to customize the home screens. Another unique feature is being able to change the colors of parts of the launcher without adding a theme.

Download Nova Launcher

Theme Thursday: ColorWarp

Theme Thursday: ColorWarp

Oct 25, 2012

For those here who are looking for a way to add a little craziness to their phone, or even something to add that slight touch of wonkiness. For Willy Wonka fans there is a great theme that will certainly transform any Android running ADW Launcher into something that certainly will be more festive and colorful. This week on Theme Thursday, we are looking at a crazy and wonderfully simple theme in ColorWarp. Honestly, I did not have very high hopes coming into this week, but I was pleasantly surprised. The effect given by this crazy and off kilter theme really added a lovable touch to my phone, but beware, the effect may not be liked by all and is targeted at a very specific audience.

The inevitable shortcoming in all themes is the limited amount of custom icons. Some themes have a ton, and some have a disappointing few, but with Color Warp, ever icon has a themed pair because all ColorWarp does is invert these icons to create a bizarro icon that really brings a great and unexpected splash of color. Spending a cool $1.50 delivers some great, and appropriate wallpapers that really add to the intended impression. Whether this is worth it is up for debate, there is a Lite version and with plenty of good trippy wallpapers on the web the only real reason to donate would simply be convenience and kindness to the developer.

In total, anyone who is looking to make their phone a little more interesting should make sure to check out either version of ColorWarp as it will bring a truly unified and unique look to the typically reserved Android home screen. It has been a while since I have seen a theme that is truly this unique and offers a way to completely overhaul an entire launcher this seamlessly. The change really is stunning and delivers a great sense of quirkiness and keep it slightly askew.

Theme Thursday: Scratched for ADW

Theme Thursday: Scratched for ADW

Jun 14, 2012

After a long run of GO Launcher-related themes, this Thursday we will be looking at an ADW Launcher theme by popular theme designer ADDesignes. Scratched is the name of the theme, and like most themes, the name is very indicative of its style. Featuring three different wallpapers that incorporate a worn sheet metal design, “Scratched” is probably the most appropriate title for this theme.

As far as the actual design of the theme goes, there is really a lot to be desired. The icons are surrounded by a battered square backing which is actually very well done, with little bright areas of freshly chipped metal adding an impressive level of detail. The problem is that the app icons are only noted by a recessed etched out area that is very hard to see and makes it tough to quickly scan through a page of apps. The biggest problem is the dark and light hatching that is used for these icons, as the light hatch marks almost exactly match that of its backing. For those who are fans of the icons, however, there is a generous selection here, although I would have liked to have seen some of the more common features like Phone and SMS drop the square backing and stand out a bit more.

It is hard to decide weather or not I find this theme particularly attractive or not, seeing as the whole metallic idea is not usually my ideal as it tends to become too busy. The hard edges of the icons, in my opinion, make the screen look too cluttered, and my suggestion to those employing this theme is to try and limit the number of icons on one page to lessen the confusion. For anyone who does not immediately find this theme stunning, I would advise against it; especially with its $1.49 price tag.

Theme Thursday: Fluxed

Theme Thursday: Fluxed

Mar 1, 2012

One of the biggest selling points for any theme is continuity; the more seamless the integration, the better. One of the biggest obstacles of this is the fact that introducing custom icons alienates those apps that do not have theme-specific icons. Nothing will kill a great looking theme faster than a limited app icon selection, and fortunately our theme this week, Fluxed for ADW Launcher, comes strong with a massive list of represented applications (somewhere close to 350). The icons all look amazing as slightly beveled, matte squares with the application image cropped nicely in the lower right corner. I have found that some themes use overdone icons that look strange and out of place in the app drawer, but because of the design and just sheer number of icons this is not the case here for Fluxed. One problem I found was that certain apps didn’t automatically switch icons and had to be done manually, and these changes only applied to icons on the homepage and not in the app drawer.

Unfortunately, the included background is nothing to write home about, and I found myself immediately changing it. As stated above, Fluxed is available for ADW Launcher which, unlike GO Launcher, only supports one background per theme. This is not a massive problem though as finding good Android wallpaper takes just a simple trip to Google’s Image page, but with so much attention given to each app icon it would have been nice to see a little more effort go into the wallpaper. For the dock bar, Fluxed removes it entirely and just adds a small shadow. I would recommend turning reflections ‘on’ in the ADW settings as this adds a nice, simplistic touch.

For those running ADW I fully recommend Fluxed simply because of the amazing icon selection and top notch quality. With just a little effort by the user, this is one theme that could really liven up any dreary or stale looking phone.

Theme Thursday – Thanksgiving and Forever Thankful

Theme Thursday – Thanksgiving and Forever Thankful

Nov 25, 2011

Editor’s Note: Do the Black Friday crowds have you down? Want to remember why this is a holiday weekend in the first place? Then enjoy this week’s Theme Thursday on a Friday. Freaky Friday will return next week at its scheduled time and place! Happy Thanksgiving weekend to all!

This week’s Theme Thursday is another double-feature, each with a Thanksgiving theme to help you celebrate the holiday. The first ADW Launcher theme to be featured is called, aptly enough, Thanksgiving.

Thanksgiving comes with a cornucopia of 150 custom icons, each featuring a different app icon within its very own horn of plenty. As you can also see, the custom wallpaper depicts a scene of the Android decked out in Pilgrim’s attire as he hunts the wild turkey for the feast.

This theme, which runs on ADW Launcher is only US$1.25. You can find it here on the Android Market.

The second half of our double-feature is Forever Thankful from MommaDeuce.

This theme depicts several decorative Autumnal scenes and items inspired by the season. It contains 35 wallpapers in addition to assorted custom icons, docks and other elements to give your Android device the look and feel of a Fall harvest time scene.

You can find Forever Thankful on the Android Market for US$1.49.

Each of these themes will require ADW Launcher, a home replacement utility. ADW Launcher allows you customize several different elements of your Android’s graphical user interface all at once simply by switch themes or customizing existing themes to use any icon, wallpaper, dock or other element already installed on your Android device. Even the way the app drawer behaves can be customized to your liking, making it an extremely versatile utility that allows for a truly unique experience. ADW Launcher is available for free on the Android Market. However, to use custom docks, you will need ADW Launcher EX, available on the Android Market for US$3.32.

From all of us here at Android Rundown to everyone out there, have a safe and happy Thanksgiving!

Theme Thursday – MIUI Cartoon Mob

Theme Thursday – MIUI Cartoon Mob

Nov 17, 2011

The theme chosen for this week’s Theme Thursday, MIUI Cartoon Mob, is an interesting one, no doubt. For one thing, I find it to be fun and visually appealing. The cartoony, hand-drawn style of the icons, backgrounds and other elements all look great. For another thing, it comes to Android and ADW Launcher by way of the very popular MIUI ROM.

I admit that I’m not quite brave enough to install a custom ROM on my phone. For whatever reason, I just don’t want to do it. As I said, I understand that this is kind of a weird hang-up, but it’s my hang-up and I don’t really want to go into it. Even so, to get this theme on my phone, I’d almost consider taking a risk and going through the process of installing MIUI. Well, thankfully, I don’t have to go through that process, I can just purchase MIUI Cartoon Mob and set it as the current theme in ADW Launcher. It’s that easy!

Of course, it’s easy because ADW Launcher makes it easy. The custom home replacement utility allows you to customize your Android’s user interface in a number of amazing ways. From custom backgrounds to completely new icon sets, everything is customizable — even the way the app drawer displays and behaves. It’s very powerful.

So, if you’re like me and want to install a cheerful looking theme without getting your hands dirty dealing with custom ROMs, buying MIUI Cartoon Mob and installing it in ADW Launcher seems like the easiest way to go. You can even mix and match it with other themes for a truly unique user interface. Just another one of the great things about Android; the sky’s the limit when it comes to customization.

You can find MIUI Cartoon Mob on the Android Market for US$1.49.

Theme Thursday – Tha Flesh

Theme Thursday – Tha Flesh

Oct 20, 2011

As Halloween shambles ever closer, we prepare for its arrival with a theme that is certainly not for the faint of heart! It might be a good idea to turn back now, if you have a weak stomach. However, if you dare to witness the grisly screenshots of this terrifying theme for ADW Launcher, well, we won’t be held responsible for whatever happens next. This week, for Theme Thursday, we present to you Tha Flesh.

Tha Flesh is a bone-chillingly gruesome display of blood and gore, done up with shreds of ripped skin, stitches and the living dead. It’s the perfect “gross out” theme for any horror fan or zombie fetishist looking for a darker take on ADW Launcher themes.

As a theme for ADW Launcher, obviously, you’ll need to have ADW Launcher in order to see the changes made by installing and running Tha Flesh. ADW Launcher is a home replacement utility that allows you to completely customize the graphical user interface of your Android device. Icons, wallpapers, dock bars and so much more. Even the way your app drawer behaves can be customized a number of different ways with ADW Launcher. With ADW Launcher, you can give your phone a radical new look simply by selecting a different theme. It’s that easy.

With Tha Flesh comes more than 720 disturbing, custom icons; a set of nightmarish wallpapers and hideous custom docks. (Note that custom docks require the purchase and installation of ADW Launcher EX).

You can find Tha Flesh on the Android Market for $2.99, but there’s always the chance that it may find you, first. Or, if you prefer to take it for a test spin and see if this theme bites you the right way before purchasing, download the free version which comes with considerably fewer icons and features, but gives you a good idea of the sick and twisted imagery that will haunt your nightmares for weeks to come.

Theme Thursday – Droid Genesis

Theme Thursday – Droid Genesis

Aug 4, 2011

It’s hard to beat a classic layout and structure, and there’s just something I like about having large, colorful icons with rounded corners splashed across the screen. Droid Genesis, this week’s Theme Thursday, features just that.

Now, the great thing about ADW Launcher is that you have the luxury to pick and choose every aspect of your user interface. Take these icons, for example. You might want to use them across your phone, but completely ditch the wallpapers. No problem! Maybe you just want to assign some of the icons and blend in another icon set? Again, with ADW Launcher, the world is your oyster. The home screen replacement utility allows you to completely customize the look of your Android device. It’s a lot of fun to play with.

There’s not a whole lot to this theme, aside from the fact that it features 300 attractive icons, a few “spacey” wallpapers and seems reminiscent of iOS. It’s a very subtle theme, but that may be all some people are after. If you’re among the group of people out there who don’t care for the default Android icons and simply want something different that’s not too over-the-top, this theme’s for you.

One of the best things about this theme is that it isn’t restricted to just ADW Launcher. Droid Genesis is compatible with Go Launcher EX and Launcher Pro. This means you can use 3 different launchers and still maintain the same look without downloading 3 different versions of the same theme. It’s a good idea to support multiple launchers, and this isn’t the first theme I’ve seen that does it.

Droid Genesis is available on the Android Market for US$0.99. The author also accepts icon requests, so if you notice a custom icon for your favorite app isn’t included, be sure to contact the developer.

Theme Thursday – SpaceBound

Theme Thursday – SpaceBound

May 19, 2011

Prepare the hyperdrive and get ready to touch the stars! This week’s theme is SpaceBound, and I am really digging it.

SpaceBound is another theme by ADDesigns, the same people who created BlackGold, a theme I featured last week. I really admire the work they do and the daring risks they seem to be willing to take. SpaceBound is a great example of that. It’s so crazy and different that it really grabs your attention.

Like all of the themes featured on Theme Thursday, SpaceBound is a theme for ADW Launcher, a highly-customizable home replacement for Android. Using ADW Launcher, you can quickly install any of the themes featured here on Android Rundown and our “Theme Thursday” feature and switch between them with just a few button presses.

SpaceBound features 7 amazing wallpapers splashed with bright colors that seem to clash with everything, yet complement each other in such a way that they become uniform. It’s a psychedelic look at the planets, and beyond. In addition to the wallpapers, you get over 300 custom app icons and more than 150 extra icons for use with ADW’s shortcuts.

As you can see from the screen shots below, the orange icons all share a circular shape to go along with the wallpapers. Of course, while it does a great job of pulling the theme together and keeping a consistent look, it might get a little confusing as to which icon is which unless you pay closer attention to the image or choose to turn labels on.

If you like the look of SpaceBound as much as I do, the theme costs US$1.49 and is available to purchase right through the Android Market. Also, note that the clock in the screen shots is a free widget called SiMi, which is also available in the Android Market.

Theme Thursday – BlackGold

Theme Thursday – BlackGold

May 12, 2011

I’m of the mindset that you have to be careful about adding gold accents to things. You can go from classy to trashy if it’s not done right. That said, I think this week’s theme sits somewhere comfortably in-between.

This week, I’m looking at BlackGold from ADDesigns, a theme for ADW Launcher.

ADW Launcher is a highly-customizable home replacement for your Android device. You can customize everything from the wallpaper to the icons. You can even customize the dock and app drawer to work in a variety of ways that take it beyond your stock phone settings. BlackGold is a theme for ADW Launcher that will instantly customize most of those features.

There’s something very solid and sleek about BlackGold. The gold accents in the black icons, plus the general shape and sharp lines make it look very precise. It almost reminds me of a wrist watch that has just enough of a stylish flair to take it beyond a mere timepiece.

When you consider that, most of the time, the only reason people pull out their phones is to see what time it is, you begin to feel that the cell phone is the modern day equivalent of the pocket watch. Therefore, I would assume it only makes sense to have a theme that suggests the more luxurious side or your Android phone. After all, smartphones don’t exactly come cheap.

BlackGold costs US$1.49 on the Android Market and comes with more than 250 custom icons, an additional 170+ icons in an icon pack for use with ADW’s custom shortcuts and 6 wallpapers to match the theme.

If last week’s theme, Tha Shag, was too rustic and retro for you, see if BlackGold isn’t more inline with your chic fashion sense.

Note: The clock widget featured in the screen shots is called SiMi, available in the Android Market.

Theme Thursday – Windows XP

Theme Thursday – Windows XP

Apr 28, 2011

Hard to believe it’s already Thursday again, but here we go with another Theme Thursday! One more day ’til the weekend, and one more fancy shmancy theme to show off on your Android-powered phone or tablet.

Last week, we showcased Hand Carved, a great theme that conveyed a lot of warmth and feeling. This week, we’ve got something entirely different.

The week’s theme is, well, it’s Windows XP.

I have to admit, I’m having a hard time figuring out who would actually want their phone to look like Windows XP, but there is kind of a strange appeal to this theme. I guess you could call it nostalgia, considering how old that operating system is. At the very least, it’s been a good conversation starter!

As usual, this is another theme for ADW Launcher, the highly customizable home replacement for Android that allows you to do some very interesting tricks with the user interface, either making it easier to use your device or to simply make it look really cool. Although, it’s arguable how “cool” it is to have Windows XP on your device.

Aside from the obvious wallpaper and custom icons is the “Start” button which you can assign to the app drawer. Makes sense, doesn’t it? Hit the start menu to access all of your apps and games, just like on a desktop PC. The developer has included instructions on how to do it, as it might be a bit tricky if you’re not used to customizing.

I’ve been getting quite a kick out of showing it off to friends and family. I even managed to convince a few gullible souls to believe I’d actually installed Windows XP on my phone. So, at least it’s worth it for the fun factor!

The Windows XP theme costs €0.59 (about $0.86) on the Android Market.

Theme Thursday – Hand Carved

Theme Thursday – Hand Carved

Apr 21, 2011

Well, it’s time for another Theme Thursday where, once a week, I go trolling the Android Market for themes that are compatible with ADW Launcher. For those unfamiliar, ADW Launcher is a highly customizable home replacement for Android devices.

Last week, we looked at a theme called Minimalist, which I liked because of how clean and simple it was. This week, the theme I wanted to highlight is called Hand Carved by Dan Josiah.

Hand Carved is a really fun theme that applies a neat wooden texture to the look of your device. Featuring several custom backgrounds (which you can access through the wallpaper menu) and a custom icon set, it’s a look that’s sure to appeal to those who are looking for something with a little more warmth and feeling.

The icons are the real stars of the show, here. If you take a look at the screenshot, you’ll notice that they each appear to be carved out of the wooden background. Some have touches of color in them while they all appear to be slightly transparent, allowing the wood grain to show through and complete the effect.

Most of your device’s basic functions and pre-loaded apps are represented, with icons for the dialer, text messenger, contacts, GMail, Maps and YouTube. You’ll also find icons for Facebook, Twitter, Pandora and more.

The only problem I have with the icons is that you don’t seem to have access to all of them. For example, if you wanted to use the custom browser icon on a folder, it’s not available. You only get access to a small number of generic icons.

Despite this small issue, I really like Hand Carved. I think it’s a very unique theme that is sure to get plenty of attention from anyone who sees it in action. Follow this link for more information on how to install it to your device.