Home Screen Android Customization

The Android home screen is configurable in many ways.The wallpaper, or background, of your home screen can be personalised using an image, photo or even a ‘live wallpaper’ (an animated or interactive wallpaper).

Widgets are simple plug-ins that control apps like music and settings or display information like weather or social networking status.

Shortcuts allow you to store handy links to contacts, bookmarks, map directions, and other such content. Special folders, sometimes called live folders, allow information from apps to be easily accessible from the home screen.

You can use wallpapers, widgets and special shortcuts to customise your home screen. Learn how to personalise your home screen for productivity or aesthetic reasons

1 Finding the Customisation menu
You can modify your Android home screen in two ways. To launch the customisation menu, you can  either long press on an empty space on the screen or press the Menu button and choose the ‘Add’ option. From this menu, you can add items to your home screen or modify its appearance and behaviour. The next few steps talk about each option in greater detail.

2 Customising your wallpaper
From the customisation menu in Step 1, choose ‘Wallpapers’ to set your home screen background to any image available in your Gallery, including downloaded images and those taken with the camera. You can also choose from a number of stock wallpapers that come with the device. Press the ‘Set wallpaper’ button to pick one of these still art graphics. Now your home screen will display with its new wallpaper background.

3 Configuring a live wallpaper
If you choose ‘Live wallpapers’ from the Wallpaper menu, you’ll see a list of different live wallpapers to choose from. Some may be visualisations synchronised to the music playing, others may be fancy clocks, and still others may display animated scenes. There’s even one that displays your current location using Google Maps. Each live wallpaper, when selected, shows as a preview. Many live wallpapers are configurable from a settings screen. Pick the live wallpaper of your choice and press the ‘Set wallpaper’ button. Now your home screen will display with its new, interactive wallpaper. Try pressing somewhere on the background in an area that isn’t covered by an icon; the background may react in an interesting way.

4 Using shortcuts
Shortcuts are most commonly used to access data within an application that would normally require numerous clicks to get to. For instance, you can create a shortcut to a specific destination in Google Maps.To do this, simply open the home screen customisation menu, choose ‘Shortcuts’, and then choose ‘Directions & navigation’. You’ll be presented with a screen like Fig 4. You could enter your home or your favourite coffee spot. It can even be a search term.

5 Using shortcuts from downloadable applications
Many downloadable applications also support shortcuts, although not all. Shortcuts can be incredibly useful. For instance, the downloadable Aldiko book reader allows users to create a shortcut to a specific book, saving the hassle of launching the application and then picking the book. Next time you download a new application, check to see if it has a useful shortcut.

6 Using folders
Folders (aka ‘live folders’), like shortcuts, are just a single item on your home screen. Unlike shortcuts, when you click on a folder, it displays its content: generally a list of items, with each acting much like a shortcut. When you click on a specific item, something appropriate happens. For instance, to add a folder that shows just your starred contacts, bring up the home screen customisation menu, then choose ‘Folders’, and finally choose ‘Starred contacts’. Another useful folder for organisation is to choose ‘New folder’ at the top of the ‘Select folder’ list. This creates an empty folder that you stuff with whatever you like – application links, shortcuts, etc.

7 Using folders from downloadable applications
Downloadable applications allow for home screen folders full of application content. The downloadable Pandora application, for instance, supports a folder that holds your custom music stations. The folder for the Facebook application shows a list of your friends that have shared their phone number; you can even click on a friend to call them. When you download applications, check to see if they include useful folders.

8 Using widgets
Widgets are like little app plug-ins – they can greatly enhance the information and features available on your home screen. To add a widget to your home screen, go to the home screen customisation menu and choose ‘Widgets’. You will be prompted with a list of all of the widgets available on your device. Pick a widget to add to your home screen. If there wasn’t room for the widget – some of them are pretty big – you will see the message: ‘No more room on this home screen’. If this happens, try installing the widget on a different page or do some cleanup first.

9 Configuring homescreen widgets
When you first select a widget to display on your home screen, you may be prompted with a configuration screen. For instance, the News and Weather widget (available on most devices with Android 2.1 and higher) has a configuration screen that asks if you want to display news, weather, or both. Similarly, the Picture Frame widget allows you to choose which picture you want to display.

10 Downloading new customisations
In addition to the many built-in customisation features available on the Android platform, you can download lots of customisable content from app stores as well. The Android Market is full of widgets, wallpapers, and live wallpapers – some are free, some come at a cost. Take a look at the themes category for live wallpapers, widgets, and various other customisations.
Note: Widgets are often components included as features within full Android applications. However, some widgets are standalone, such as many of the clock widgets found on the Android Market.

11 Cleaning up your home screen
If your home screen gets cluttered, you can move items around and organise them. Perform a long press on any shortcut, folder or widget to select and drag it to a new location. You can drag the selected item to the edge of the home screen to move it to a new page. You can remove an item on your home screen by dragging it to the garbage can icon, typically at the bottom of the screen.

Home Screen Android Customization
Source : Android Tips, Tricks & Apps - Volume 1, 2013