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Android System and Theming
Google's Android system has as its biggest advantage its open source nature. Therefore anyone that knows how to is able to make any changes to it that he or she wants. As a result it is very much possible to theme your Android installation. Many telephone manufacturers have stepped up to this task and provided custom theming to their version of Android, a good example being HTC with their ‘Sense’ interface. For common users that get bored with their theme or for those who just do not like the default, there are many options for alternative Android themes. Here are the most common ones.
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Most Common and Easy Theming Method: Using Alternative Launchers
Alternative launchers are available in large numbers on the Android Market and all bring something unique to the table. The most common options that are used by many currently are either ‘LauncherPro’ or ‘ADW Launcher’. Especially with the latter one it is extremely simple to set up an alternative theme for your Android handset. The steps are as follows:
- Go the Android Market and Download the ADW Launcher.
- Once installed, an alternative theme is applied that can be slightly customized. However, looking for ‘ADW Themes’ in the Market will bring up a vast amount of alternative themes.
- Download and apply any of the themes to enjoy a brand new Android look!
LauncherPro itself is not represented by as many additional theming options in the Market but comes with an additional amount of ‘Sense-like’ widgets pre-installed. These widgets by themselves provide an additional number of theming options, which will considerably enhance your Android Experience.
When not judging by popularity alone there are many more options for Android themes through alternative launchers. Other launchers include ‘Helix Launcher, ‘ dxTop Pro’, ‘Home++’, ‘Zeam Launcher’ and ‘Sweeter Home 2’. Especially Sweeter Home 2 has a large set of customizability options that is unrivaled by any of the other launchers. Literally anything can be skinned to your preferences, and even though there is a bit of a steep learning curve, the app is widely supported by an active, theme-sharing, community.
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Other, Less Common, Theming Options
Besides the option of installing a variety of alternative launchers on your Android device there is the option of rooting it. Even though the above-mentioned launcher options are applicable on both a rooted or unrooted device, rooted devices have other options. Theming of the Android system for rooted devices happens through system alterations rather then installed applications, and therefore themes have the opportunity to run a lot smoother. As Android themes often replace defaults rather than just sit on top of the system, rooting is considered by many as ‘real theming’.
Theming on rooted devices is done through custom ROMs. The more popular devices usually have more ROMs to choose from. For those that are technical and know their way around making amendments to the Android system, rooting provides unlimited theming opportunities. However, those that aren’t as technical still have plenty of interesting ROMs to choose from. Many of the before-mentioned alternative launchers are also built into these ROMs, making them a default.
A good example of a more extreme form of theming for rooted devices is the MIUI rom, available on a variety of HTC devices.
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Theming on Android: Limitless Possibilities
The Android system is very capable of being themed and therefore can be transferred to carry any look imaginable. Contrary to popular belief this process really doesn’t have to be very complicated and even unrooted devices can do it. There are a variety of other ways the look of your Android device can altered, for instance through alternative widget downloads, but the methods mentioned in this article really include true theming of the entire Android look.
Theming on Android can really increase the lifespan of the phone, as there are too many options to ever get bored with the device. Therefore it is highly recommended to try different Android themes every once in a while!