Monday, 23 July 2012

Stock Android Theme Without Rooting or Flashing

I have got bored with TouchWiz, i kind of hate the style and look of it on my Galaxy S2, I was thinking of Rooting and installing Cyanogenmod onto it, but i thought against it. Maybe if Samsung don't update the S2 with JellyBean, ill root, or even buy a Nexus phone. Here's a little guide that can let you have the look and feel of Stock Ice Cream Sandwich/JellyBean.

Launcher - Nova Launcher



I've tried alot of Launchers previously before using Nova, but Nova provides a great look and feel, and is stable enough to use daily, I find it better than Touchwiz. It uses the stock ice cream sandwich look of the home screen and App drawer, which is nice to look at and use on a daily basis. I was going to upgrade to the Prime version of the launcher, which adds more features such as gestures, hiding of apps and different scroll effects. But i find the free version is good to use.

Check out the developers site at : www.NovaLauncher.com



Icons

With TouchWiz, or any other Skin added onto high end Android devices these days,  the icons are different to the stock Android ones you see on Nexus devices. Nova Launcher will allow you to change the look of the application icon on the homescreen. I would love to be able to change the icon of the app in the app drawer too, but i haven't found a way to do that yet. There are alot of icon packs available in and out of the Play Store, but the one i use is the Stock ice cream sandwich pack, which comes with the ice cream sandwich theme, You don't have to use the Theme to use them, but you just need to keep it installed.

By long tapping a icon on the homescreen, Nova will allow you to edit the name and the image of the icon. Once you click the image, it will give you several options on where your customised icons are, The pack i use will be located in the "icon pack" option. From there, there is a wide range of icons that you can use, which are used on Stock Android.


Play Store: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=kov.theme.ics

Lock Screen

I tested Go Launcher and its lock app, Go Locker, to try and get that Stock Android feel and use of the lock screen, but i found it quite hard to find. Then i came across Holo locker, which is the JellyBean android lock screen which is almost identical to the one on Stock Android, it has a quick app launch for the camera, and a general swipe to unlock, with the look and feel of JellyBean.


Holo Locker is from the Developers of Holo Locker, which is also a highly recommended Launcher, i just prefer to use Nova. Holo can also be used on Android versions 2.2 and upwards. 


Live Wallpaper

Theres a few Live wallpapers out there to mimic the Jellybean look, but Theres in particular which i have had one my S2, for the longest. the JellyBean Live wallpaper provides the look of the stock version, without any lag or crashes. it also comes with various settings, to change the quantity of animations, the type and Speed of them, the default settings works perfectly.




Other JellyBean flavours:

Keyboard

The Keyboard works well, with the new auto correct implementation, but it crashed a fair amount of times when i used it, so i went back to Swiftkey or the S2 keyboard.

Play Store: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=jellybeankeyboard.f.g

Clock

It provides a nice look and feel, similar to the stock clock. But by reading user reviews, it lags a fair bit, i didn't install.

 Play Store: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.chilisapps.android.icsClockFree


I feel as though this is the closest im going to get to Stock Android without a Nexus device, i am glad that Developers put time and effort into these themes and looks, its what makes Android better than the rest, right?

*edit* Apex Launcher allows you to change the icon of an app in the App drawer also*

*edit * Nova also has a setting in "look and Feel" where you can change the default icon pack*

Wednesday, 18 July 2012

The Verge official App - First Impressions



After months of speculation, Today Joshua Topolsky (Editor in Chief of The Verge) tweeted about Sending the Application to the Play Store and the App Store. With the app being rejected from the App store, it finally got released a few hours later. I am reviewing the Android release, as i don't have an iPhone, we are still waiting for an iPad/Tablet supported version.



The overall design of the application is pretty good, it has taken a few things from the Mobile version of the website, such as the “Top stories” feed, which you can scroll between the top stories of the day and the basic design of the home page. The home screen contains the normal news feed with a row of links at the top of the screen relating to News, Sections of the website, Media and Following and also 3 links to Stories, Reviews and Features at the bottom. Sections has deep links into the Verge’s product database, where you can search for a specific brand, Operating system or a type of product. Here you can find links to user and official reviews of products.


In my opinion, the Media section is the best looking section of the app. Videos, Photos and podcasts look beautiful and are easily viewable. The photo Galleries are scrollable with small Thumbnails and with a larger image above.

The Following page lets you follow a certain Story Stream which is on the Verge, such as the iPhone 5 rumours, you can be notified every time there is a new story in the story stream, which is pretty handy when you want to be kept up to date about a certain Story.
As i said above, the app doesn't support the iPad or Tablets in general, and i cant see a Windows Phone app coming any time soon. I hope The Verge staff stay true to their word and keep the app updated and adding new features, such as the forums and a tablified version.
Overall, the App works nicely, its on par with the likes of Flipboard and Google Currents. Videos, podcasts and Photo's are nice to view, and work in tune with the rest of the application. In the next update of the app, id like to see the links that are within posts to be directed within the app, without loading the browser. A Forum section would be nice, if it was similar to the comments feature. A "Read now/Offline" view would also be nice for when your not on Data/Wi-Fi, similar to Instapaper. Id also like to have a full iPad/Tablet version, even though the full website works nice, i find it hard to sometimes touch the smaller URL's within posts, and buttons on the home page. Its going to be one of my daily used apps, as i read The Verge daily, this is a nice addition to my reading.

PS - The Photo's were taken with my iPad 3, ive never really used the camera before, it worked out ok :).