Android

Customize your Android phone home screen with options to spare

Jack Wallen introduces you to yet another Android home screen launcher -- one packed with enough options and themes that it could easily usurp your current favorite.

Dodol Launcher

I happen to be one of those users who hops around, from launcher to launcher, in search of something new for my Android devices. It's a rare occasion when a home screen launcher really shifts the metaphor beyond the usual theming and varied options. Dodol Launcher isn't a paradigm shifter, but it offers enough in the way of themes and options to make it a viable contender on the market.

Here are some of the features you'll find with Dodol:

  • Tons of themes
  • App sorting and hiding (within the app drawer)
  • Screen transitions
  • Hide status bar
  • Transparent status bar
  • Dock hiding
  • Scrolling dock
  • Gestures

For many users, a home screen is only as good as its functionality and available themes. Dodol has plenty of both. Let's install this new home screen and see if it becomes your favorite.

Installation

As you've come to expect, the installation of Dodol Launcher is quite easy. Just follow these steps:

  1. Open the Google Play Store on the device
  2. Search for Dodol Launcher
  3. Locate and tap the entry by dodol.com
  4. Tap Install
  5. Read through the permissions listing
  6. If you agree with the permissions listing, tap Accept
  7. Allow the installation to complete

Once it's installed, tap the home button on your device. When you're prompted to select your launcher, tap Dodol, and then click Just Once (after you've decided this launcher is for you, you can set it as your default).

Theming

The default theme of Dodol is nice, but since it has so many themes to offer, you'll want to explore them. To change the theme, do the following:

  1. Long-press the home screen
  2. When the Dodol menu appears (Figure A), tap Theme
    Figure A
    Figure A
  3. Swipe the screen to the left until you see the More button
  4. Tap the More button
  5. From the Theme selector (Figure B), look around until you find a new theme
    Figure B
    Figure B
  6. Tap the desired theme and, when prompted (from within the Google Play Store), tap Install
  7. Tap Accept
  8. Allow the installation to complete
  9. Tap the device back button until you return to the Theme selector
  10. Swipe the screen until you locate the newly installed theme
  11. Tap the new theme

Customizing the home screen

There are plenty of ways to customize the home screen. To get to these options, long-press the home screen, and then tap Preferences from the Dodol menu. From the Preferences window, tap Home screen. Within the Home screen preferences (Figure C), you can:

  • Reorder your screens (edit home screen)
  • Change your screen grid (all the way up to 7x7)
  • Change the transition effect
  • Hide labels
  • Hide the status bar
  • Enable transparent status bar (this is in beta)

Figure C

Figure C

The Dodol Home screen preferences window.

The reorder screens is an outstanding feature. Say, for instance, you have each screen dedicated to a specific task — but you want those screens in a specific order. To change this order, follow these steps:

  1. Long-press the home screen
  2. Tap Preferences from the Dodol menu
  3. Tap Home screen
  4. Tap Edit home screen
  5. Tap and hold the screen to be moved (Figure D)
  6. Delete any unwanted screens by tapping its associated X
  7. Add new screens by tapping the plus sign [+]
  8. When finished, tap the home button to return to the home screen

Figure D

Figure D

Reordering the screens.

Customizing the app drawer

The app drawer offers plenty of customizations, such as:

  • Grid size
  • Direction of screen movement (horizontal or vertical)
  • Transition effect
  • Infinite scroll
  • Sort apps (alphabetical, recently installed, by install dates, and most used)
  • Hide labels
  • Hide apps
  • App drawer background
  • Fade app drawer background
  • Upper tab background

One feature I like is the ability to change the app drawer background. You can select a background from your device files. To change the app drawer background, do the following:

  1. Long-press the home screen
  2. Tap Preferences
  3. Tap App drawer
  4. Tap App drawer background
  5. Tap Custom (Figure E)
  6. Locate the image to be used and tap it
  7. Crop the image (if necessary)
  8. Tap Save (if prompted)
  9. Tap the home button to return to the home screen
  10. Open the app drawer to enjoy your work

Figure E

Figure E

Customizing the app drawer background.

You'll find plenty of other outstanding options with Dodol Launcher. Some of these options (such as gestures) can help to make your home screen launcher more efficient to use. But mostly, home screen replacements, such as Dodol, are all about customizing your Android device to best fit your needs and tastes.

What is your home screen launcher of choice? Do you think Dodol has what it takes to take over that prized spot? If not, what does your current favorite launcher offer that you prefer? Share your thoughts in the discussion thread below.

About Jack Wallen

Jack Wallen is an award-winning writer for TechRepublic and Linux.com. He’s an avid promoter of open source and the voice of The Android Expert. For more news about Jack Wallen, visit his website jackwallen.com.

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