Every mobile provider offers its take on the Android interface -- there's HTC Sense, Verizon Motoblur, and Samsung's UI -- and each one has pluses and minuses. The good news is that, if you don't like the UI on your Android device, it's quite simple to change.There are a number of interfaces available in the Android Market, but one that I especially like is Open Home - Full, which will set you back $3.99. This Android UI adds features that I have not found on any other smartphone interface; also, I did not see a hit on my device's performance after installing it. I think Open Home - Full is far superior to the basic Android UI and the Samsung UI, although I don't like it as much as HTC's SenseUI.
- Hundreds of free skins
- Hundreds of icon packs
- Works with all Android phones
- Complete customization
- Hides app launchers from home screen
- Full screen mode
- Live wallpaper support
- Allows font/size changes to all widgets (menu/more/font)
- Instant folder like iPhone
- Experimental 3D cube
- App launcher drawers
Installing Open Home - FullThe first step is to go to the Android Market and search for Open Home - Full. You'll see a lot of entries (most of which will be themes, but the correct listing will have the OpenHome - Full icon (Figure A). (Although this screenshot shows it as Purchased, when you go to buy Open Home - Full, the price will be listed.) Figure A
When the chooser opens, select Open Home, which will launch the Open Home - Full UI.
Using Open Home - FullOnce you are in the Open Home - Full UI, you will see the default setup, which includes the weather app and a clock. The default setup is somewhat like that of the base Android desktop (Figure C); however, there are a number of differences. Figure C
Even with the drawer open, you can still open the main application drawer from the bottom of the screen.
To add launchers, simply open the main application drawer, find the application you want to add, and press and drag the application launcher from the application drawer to the launcher drawer. Adding launchers can be tricky at first, but once you get the hang of where to drag the launcher, it's easy. You can add as many launchers as you want to the side drawer.
Configuring Open Home - FullIn order to get to the Open Home - Full configuration window, click the phone's Menu button and then click More. From there, you will see a number of new options (Figure E). Click the Open Home Settings to get to the options. Figure E
The Experimental Cube doesn't add much in terms of functionality, but it is a pretty cool interface.
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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.