If there’s one thing you can’t beat Super AMOLED displays at, it’s the way they render such deep black colours. And I for one simply love to see the colour black on the HD SAMOLED screen on my Galaxy Nexus, preferring to always have a completely black wallpaper. I’ve also got a fetish for text-based icons for two reasons — that they look awesome coupled with a completely black background on an SAMOLED, and I can customize any icon the way I like it because it’s otherwise hard to find custom icons for every app.
So I decided to customize my homescreen, and the result is what you see above. I’ve prepared a full step-by-step guide that tells you how you can achieve the same look on your phone. But before you start with the actual procedure, you’ll need to be on an Ice Cream Sandwich ROM on your phone, as the launcher app I’ve used is only available for Android 4.0. Oh, and it’s best if you have a phone with a Super AMOLED screen as well, as it doesn’t really look that good on LCD displays due to their inability to render such deep blacks.
Now, let’s get on with the procedure.
NOTE: The back, home, switch, kill and menu buttons at the bottom are only available if you have a Galaxy Nexus and you have installed a custom ROM that lets you customize the on-screen buttons, so I’ll not be covering those.
A) Downloading necessary apps and making some preparations
- Download and install the following five apps on your phone from the Play Store (aka Android Market):
- Apex Launcher. This is the launcher that we need to use in order to set up the homescreen like that.
- Simple Text – Text Icon Creator. This will be used to create those text icons, as the name of the app suggests.
- 1Weather. This is the weather app seen on my homescreen.
- Minimalist Text. This is for the time that is displayed on the homescreen.
- SwitchPro Widget. This is for the power control widget on the top of the homescreen.
- After installing Apex Launcher (and the other apps as well), press the Home button on your phone, then on the window that pops up, tick the Use by default for this action option, then click on Apex Launcher. This will make it the default launcher that shows up whenever you press the home button.
- Okay, now, press and hold the shortcuts on the desktop then drag them to the Remove icon on the top of the screen to remove them from the home screen.
- On the homescreen, press the menu button on the phone, then click on Apex Settings. Click on Folder settings, then tick the Hide folder name and Hide icon labels options. Also, select Folder Background and set it to None.
- Go back to the settings menu. Open Homescreen settings, then scroll to the bottom and tick the Hide icon labels option.
- Go back to the settings menu and into the Behavior settings menu. Here, click on Swipe up under the Gestures section and select Toggle status bar. Then exit settings and go back to the homescreen.
- Now, if you want to hide the status (notification) bar when on the homescreen, simply swipe your finger up on any part of the homescreen. It can be brought back again by swiping up as well.
B) Editing the icons to make text icons
- Go into the app drawer, and hold and drop all the icons that you wish to make a shortcut to on to your homescreen. Or add them to the homescreen by long pressing on an empty area of the homescreen, then click on Shortcuts, then add any shortcut that you want.
- Long press on any shortcut that you wish to create a text icon for. When a small menu pops up, let go of the icon, then click the Edit button.
- Now, click on the small square button on the left that shows the app’s current icon.
- On the window that pops up, click on ADW icon pack.
- This will open up the Simple Text app. Here, click on the image that says simple.
- Now we need to rename the text simple to whatever you want to name the particular shortcut’s icon. But wait, before you go ahead, keep in mind that text bigger than 4 letters tends to get cut at the sides on the homescreen. So you’ll need to think up short names for the shortcuts. For example, I named the Play Store as simply play, the Gmail app to simply @, file manager app to files, etc.
- So, edit the text to whatever you wish. You can also change the font of the text by clicking on the A button next to the input field, but i recommend the default one as that is what I use, as seen the screenshots.
- After you’re done renaming the text, press the menu button on the phone and select Save Icon.
- This will bring you back to the homescreen and to the Edit shortcut screen. Here, press OK, and voila, the graphic icon has changed into a text icon.
- Now, similarly for other shortcuts, repeat steps 1 to 8 to change their icons to text icons. Don’t forget to change the icons for the 4 shortcuts in the dock i.e at the bottom of the screen
- When you’re done editing all the shortcut icons, move on to the next step.
- Now, to group shortcuts together into folders, simply press and hold and drag one shortcut and drop it on another shortcut. This will group them together. Make the necessary groupings then move to the next step.
- After making all the folders, drag those folders and position them on the two rows on the bottom of the screen.
C) Placing the weather widget
- Open up 1weather from your apps menu, set up your city etc, then close it.
- Then, on the homescreen, long press and then select Widgets. Then, select 1Weather 2×2.
- In the screen that shows up, click on the circle next to the city whose temperature you want to see, then press on Choose location button on the bottom to add the weather widget to the homescreen.
- After the widget gets added to the homescreen, long press and drag it to the right and above the line of text folders (as seen in the image above).
D) Placing the time widget
- Long press on the homescreen next to the weather widget, select Widgets then click on Minimalistic Text. On the screen that pops up, click on Minimalistic Text 2×2. NOTE: Your phone might list all the Minimalistic Text widgets on the page right after you click on Widgets. This depends on the custom ROM you are running.
- Now scroll down to the Text Style section, then click on the Normal text.
- Click on Size, then increase the slider to at least 30 and above, according to your preference. But keep it at 30 minimum, as anything smaller that that doesn’t look too good.
- Then press the back button, then on OK to add the widget to the homescreen. Drag and position it on the left of the weather widget.
E) Placing the power control widget
- Long press on the homescreen next to the weather widget, select Widgets then click on Switch Pro Widget. Then, on the next screen, select SwitchPro (Size 4). NOTE: Again, your phone might list all the SwitchPro widgets on the page right after you click on Widgets.
- The SwitchPro Widget app will open up. Here, you can add toggles to the widget by clicking on the ones you need in the second row, while removing a toggle from the widget is done by clicking on the respective toggle in the top row of icons.
- After you’re done adding your desired toggles, click on the Style button, then select No Background. Then, press OK to add the widget to the homescreen.
That’s it. If you did everything as mentioned above, you’ll get an homescreen just like the one pictured above. Of course, you can make even more customizations now that you know how.
Making Text Icons on Gingerbread ROMs/Other launchers
ADWLauncher EX (paid) and Go Launcher Ex are two other launchers I know that let you edit the homescreen icons, though with Go Launcher Ex, you’ll have to first make all the icons by opening the Simple Text app from the apps menu, then select them from the gallery while editing the icons as Go Launcher doesn’t let you bring up Simple Text from the homescreen.
So, do you like how I’ve set up my homescreen or do you think it’s just okay or maybe just plain ugly? Don’t mince your words, I know it will not be to everyone’s liking, so let me know what you think in the comments below.