Smartphones

DIY: How to replace the UI on your Android smartphone

Jack Wallen answers a reader question about how to replace the UI on an Android phone. He notes the answer depends on which phone you use.

TechRepublic member lmhargreaves wrote in with this question regarding the Android UI:

Q: I need a physical keyboard and that is why I am looking into this smartphone...how do I replace the ui with the vanilla android and how much does it cost...can a rep from Verizon do it for me? Thanks, Linda A: The answer depends upon the phone you are looking to purchase (or own). For example, if the phone is an HTC phone, the vanilla Android is already running (just underneath Sense UI). To run the basic Android UI on an HTC phone, do the following:

  1. From the home screen, tap the Menu button and select Applications.
  2. From Applications, tap Manage Applications | Running.
  3. Locate Sense.
  4. Tap Clear Defaults.

When you tap the Home button, you will be asked what you want to use to view the home screen; select Launcher (not Sense UI), and you will have generic Android.

This isn't so easy with other mobiles; in fact, with some devices your best bet is to install a new ROM over the current UI, which is not something I recommend. You can, however, install other third-party launchers from the Android Market. I would look at ADW Launcher or GO Launcher EX. Neither launchers are basic Android, but are highly configurable and might get you where you need.

Ask Jack: If you have a DIY question, email it to me, and I'll do my best to answer it. (Read guidelines about submitting DIY questions.)

About

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 getjackd.net.

9 comments
curtisneal
curtisneal

The google account that I received with my first android has been hijacked. The assount has beeen disassociated from my alternate email account. It has also been transfered to a differ4nt phone number/ I have been unable to get any customer support from Google. M mobile carrior has refused to correct the problem. The password and security questions hveen cahanged. Does anyone know how to get Google change this\?

T3CHN0M4NC3R
T3CHN0M4NC3R

I think it's time to treat smartphones as PCs these days where users can choose what OS to install on it. With youtube and some set of instructions, all these aren't as hard as they seem. I'm still having a HTC Desire on MiUi developer ROM. It's simply still running buttery smooth and withstand-ed a lot of torture that I have no reasons (or excuses) to replace it with a brand new phone. I'd look into tablets if I need more. But if I'm buying a new phone, I'd make sure it's a phone listed on Cyanogenmod or MiUi site before buying. There's no better ROMs than them out there. Unless it's a Sony Ericsson.

awraynor
awraynor

I tried the iPhone 4S, nice phone but the screen was too small for me. I went back to my Droid X, updated to Gingerbread, rooted and installed the MIUI ROM. It's not for the average user, but a few internet searches and YouTube videos with step by step instructions (RageXMods) and it can be done, all for free. Blur is just ugly, MIUI is smooth, and ultimately customizable.

RockerGeek!
RockerGeek!

For those who don't want the vanilla Android, but also want to remove MotoBlur or Sense, you can install a different launcher from the market. I've rooted and installed a custom ROM *many* times, and it's really easy. I'm currently running CyanogenMod 7 w/ADW launcher. But if you don't want to void your warranty (or risk turning your phone into a $200 paperweight) then you should be able to download a UI from the android market- many for free! I have 2 favorites right now- ADW launcher and LauncherPro. I don't believe you need to root for either to run on your phone, and besides being free, they have lots of themes, too. First you want to download one of the launchers from the market. Once it's installed, you can follow the instructions in the article to clear the default UI settings. Then when you hit the home button, select the launcher you downloaded. Don't forget the check the box to remember your choice ;) Remember, have fun with it! :)

edglock21
edglock21

I would assume that if one tried this that Sense UI could be restarted with the same procedure; but I know what happens when one assumes... I have an old Eris that is getting a little long in the tooth, but can't see spending $300 on the latest and greatest (just yet, anyway). If I could get down to the vanilla Android OS and still have all the functionality - minus the Sense stuff, of course - I think I'd be able to hang on to the phone a bit longer.

RockerGeek!
RockerGeek!

...that I can think of is to reset your phone back to factory defaults and use a new account as the primary on that phone. Remember to back up your memory card and contacts (you can export the contacts to your memory card and then back it up). After you have a backup of your information, press the settings button on your phone and navigate to Location and Security. In that menu will be a "factory data reset". When you reboot the phone, it will require you to start over w/a google account. Use the one that hasn't been compromised. If you're able to restore your other account, you can either add it as a secondary account on the phone, or reset the data and use it as the primary again. Good luck!

RockerGeek!
RockerGeek!

is terrible... When I first rooted and flashed Gingerbread to my phone (droid 2) my battery life increased

jeb.hoge
jeb.hoge

Honestly, you have nothing to lose on that phone by looking up the procedure to root it and install Cyanogenmod or another ROM. You should easily be able to refresh it with a little bit of research (just search for "Eris root and rom" for starters). My LG Ally is newer than the Eris, but not by too much, and last summer I replaced the battery and installed a custom ROM tailored to my device...the difference is night and day and it's better than it was when new.

Jye75
Jye75

revert back to Sense just by selecting it when you hit the Home button.

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