Spruce up your Android Phone (2016)

Do you have an Android powered mobile phone and it’s starting, if not already to feel dated? Spruce it! Let’s assume you are happy with it’s performance and physical appearance and you don’t want to upgrade it but you want to get the most from it. Here’s a few options to improve your phones visual appearance;

1. A different Launcher

Spruce it with Arrow Launcher
Spruce it with Arrow Launcher

The first port of call to improve the visual appearance of Android is the launcher. The launcher is what you see when you unlock your mobile. It should be pleasant and accessible to your frequently used apps and/or settings.

There’s a raft of launchers available from the Play Store to choose from. Recommending one to you would be audacious as everyone has a different view on what is considered an improvement.

Below is a list of some of the more popular launchers in use today. Just because they’re popular doesn’t necessarily mean they will work for you however;

I have tried each of them and they all have their niche features and appearance, I currently use Arrow Launcher because of the following;

  1. It’s low memory footprint which helps to maintain stable mobile performance.
  2. Vanilla Android like interface which makes navigating apps, content and settings a breeze.
  3. Apps are ranked based on daily usage which means the most popular apps are found at the top of the screen.
  4. It’s appearance is great out of the box and it has icon pack support which helps to standardise all app icons – including third party apps downloaded from the Play Store.
  5. Notification badges for text messages, calls and emails etc.
  6. Custom/daily wallpaper support.

If you try a new launcher let me know how you get on in the comments below.

2. A different lock screen

Spruce it with Next Lock Screen
Spruce it with Next Lock Screen

Sometimes you want to improve the visual appearance of your phone without even using it. This is where a different lock screen comes in to play. A lock screen does exactly what it says on the tin. It changes the default screen you see when you receive a notification or press the power button to wake up your phone from sleep.

Again, there’s many lock screens available from the Play Store. My favourite being Next Lock Screen. I find it simplistic, visually appealing and also very useful when I want to access a specific app after unlocking my phone as it launches immediately afterwards.

Have a try of some of the lock screens available and see which one tickles your fancy. If you do decide to give one a try let me know your thoughts in the comments below.

3. Different Icon Packs

Spruce it with Sunshine Icon Pack
Spruce it with Sunshine Icon Pack

By now you are most likely sick of or starting to get sick of the icons you see on a daily basis. This is where icon packs come in.

The primary advantage of an icon pack is standardisation between most if not all the apps on your phone – be it system apps and apps downloaded from the Play Store. They attempt to make all your apps icons follow a specific theme. Which in turn can also be tied in to your wallpaper to try and pull everything visually together.

My favourite icon pack is Sunshine Icon Pack. I like it because it is subtle and appealing. Of course there are a raft of icon packs available from the Play Store.

Please note however that in order for them to work you need to be using a third party launcher such as the ones listed above.

4. Extras

Navbar Apps

Spruce it with Navbar Apps
Spruce it with Navbar Apps

I have recently discovered an app called Navbar Apps. If you have a device like mine (Sony Xperia M4 Aqua, yes I know) which doesn’t have physical Back, Home and Menu buttons but instead an on-screen replacement then you’re in for a real treat.

The Navbar Apps app allows to you to style the background behind the on-screen Back, Home and Menu buttons to match your chosen theme as well as adding new features such as; a dynamic background colour based on the active app colour, displaying battery life as a percentage bar over the background and more.

Navbar Apps even lets you select an image from the built-in gallery to display instead of the default black background. For an in-app purchase of £0.99 you can download community created backgrounds to apply which also supports the developer in adding new functionality to the app.

Block This!

Spruce it with Block This!
Spruce it with Block This!

If you’re sick of ads like I am then you’re in luck. The Block This! app can block ads from all websites and apps with ease. It will save you battery life by not displaying ads which could potentially be a video – which we all know are CPU intensive and also save your monthly mobile data allowance by not downloading and displaying advertisement content such as images and videos.

Of course this may not be aligned to your ethics on supporting the apps and websites you love by allowing them to display ads which generate them revenue. To make this clear; I am all for displaying ads on apps and websites I actively use and visit respectively.

To install Block This! you will need to allow unknown sources as the app is not available on the Play Store for obvious reasons.

SD Maid – System Cleaning Tool

Spruce it with SD Maid - System Cleaning Tool
Spruce it with SD Maid – System Cleaning Tool

Let us assume you have had your phone for years. Over the years you have installed and uninstalled many apps as they come and go in and out of fashion. What happens to all the temporary data that the app created whilst it was installed and used? The answer is nothing, it says there as temporary files clogging up your Android file system.

I present SD Maid – System Cleaning Tool, although the name of this app is misleading as it is not strictly targetted to data that only resides on the SD card in your phone but it can also recover space from the on-board system and data partitions too. I’ll not go in to too much detail about it as it’s a quite involved app but it’s a good addition to keeping your phone performing at its best – at least where storage is concerned.

If you have any other sprucing tips let me know in the comments section below!


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2 thoughts on “Spruce up your Android Phone (2016)”

  1. I couldn’t find your contact information so I’ll ask here. Would you mind sharing where you got this WordPress theme? I really like it and would like to use it on my new blog.

    Friendly x 1
  2. Hi, the theme is Twenty Fifteen which comes as a default WordPress theme. I have changed the colours in the customiser to;

    Background Colour: #09172b
    Header and Sidebar Text Colour: #ffffff
    Header and Sidebar Background Colour: #0f243f

    Hope this helps.

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