1. Download our Official Android App: Forums for Android!

How much can Android be customized?

Discussion in 'Android Lounge' started by Jaycob, May 1, 2012.

  1. Jaycob

    Jaycob Lurker
    Thread Starter
    Rank:
    None
    Points:
    26
    Posts:
    8
    Joined:
    May 1, 2012

    May 1, 2012
    8
    1
    26
    I'm about to buy Sony Ericsson's Xperia Mini Pro, but am not a big fan of the manufacturer's Android UI. The icons and other little elements make the interface look rather ugly to me. Can these be modified or changed? Are other things that manufacturers have changed about Android in their phones usually somehow locked so tightly that they can't be changed?

    For example let's take the home screen corner icon thingamajiggy. Can it be removed and replaced with a standard Android home screen?

    The Xperia Mini Pro would be my first smartphone, until now I only have been using Nokia's where much of the content is locked in the phone and the themes are really ugly too.
     

    Advertisement

  2. DonB

    DonB ♡ Truth, Justice and the American Way !! ♡ ™
    Moderator
    Rank:
     #19
    Points:
    1,423
    Posts:
    19,531
    Joined:
    Nov 30, 2009

    Nov 30, 2009
    19,531
    8,435
    1,423
    Male
    18th Hole Of the Golf Course
    I would say if it can be rooted then the sky is the limit, check this section, I am sure someone there will best answer your question.


    Sony Ericsson Xperia Mini Pro
     
    apk x64, Granite1 and Jaycob like this.
  3. Jaycob

    Jaycob Lurker
    Thread Starter
    Rank:
    None
    Points:
    26
    Posts:
    8
    Joined:
    May 1, 2012

    May 1, 2012
    8
    1
    26
    Thanks for the quick reply! Will check that forum out.
     
  4. mplevy

    mplevy Android Expert
    Rank:
    None
    Points:
    123
    Posts:
    862
    Joined:
    Nov 13, 2009

    Nov 13, 2009
    862
    135
    123
    New York, USA
    You can install an alternate launcher. DxTop and GoLauncher are 2 examples of many.
     
    apk x64 and Jaycob like this.
  5. Omar Days

    Omar Days Android Expert
    Rank:
    None
    Points:
    193
    Posts:
    1,226
    Joined:
    May 19, 2011

    May 19, 2011
    1,226
    339
    193
    Also if you don't want to install a new home launcher to just change icons, then you can always get Desktop Visualizer from the app market to change icons
     
    Jaycob likes this.
  6. Hadron

    Hadron  
    VIP Member
    Rank:
     #7
    Points:
    2,218
    Posts:
    22,666
    Joined:
    Aug 9, 2010

    Aug 9, 2010
    22,666
    16,038
    2,218
    Spacecorp Test Pilot
    Dimension Jumping
    Jaycob likes this.
  7. MSUgEEk

    MSUgEEk Android Expert
    Rank:
    None
    Points:
    313
    Posts:
    3,696
    Joined:
    Apr 22, 2010

    Apr 22, 2010
    3,696
    1,418
    313
    Electrical Design Engineer
    Northwestern Alabama
    All of the above. Download a replacement launcher from the market, check to see if you can root and install custom ROMs and/or themes, and if you're any good with photoshop type stuff and can learn a few basic commands you can easily edit your own icons.
     
    Jaycob likes this.
  8. Jaycob

    Jaycob Lurker
    Thread Starter
    Rank:
    None
    Points:
    26
    Posts:
    8
    Joined:
    May 1, 2012

    May 1, 2012
    8
    1
    26
    Thanks for the replies! Not the most clever system that a separate app has to be downloaded each time you want something changed about the UI. I had hoped for some kind of simple "Revert to standard Android" or "Undo all Sony Ericsson's UI modifications" function :D But oh well, maybe I have to get familiar with this "rooting" then. Is there even a "standard" Android icon set or UI, or does every manufacturer have their own?

    Oh and by the way, the phone seems to ship with a lot of useless promotional apps, can they all be deleted i.e. can apps be locked into an Android phone at all?
     
  9. Hadron

    Hadron  
    VIP Member
    Rank:
     #7
    Points:
    2,218
    Posts:
    22,666
    Joined:
    Aug 9, 2010

    Aug 9, 2010
    22,666
    16,038
    2,218
    Spacecorp Test Pilot
    Dimension Jumping
    Manufacturers see their additions to android as enhancements, so bake them into the build. So in general the only way to get vanilla android is by rooting and installing a custom firmware build, aka "ROM". One based on the Android Open Source Project, AOSP, will be more "standard android". Rooting techniques depend on the handset, so visit your device forum's "All Things Root" subforum for more information.

    Some third party launcher apps will allow you to use custom icons though - just download the icons you like and use them in place of the default ones. I do this with Go Launcher.

    Promo apps are probably from the network rather than SE. I don't know SEs, but with HTCs there are ways of loading "unbranded" versions of the software in place of the network-bloated ones. Otherwise, you can remove these things if you root.

    Explanation: the system apps, which generally includes all pre-installed apps, live in a storage partition called /system which the user does not by default have write access to. This does mean that the general user can't render their phone unstable or unbootable by messing with stuff they don't understand, and makes it harder to install serious malware, but also means you can't get rid of unwanted stuff that's in there. Rooting gives you "superuser" access, which you can use to get write access to that area (some models will have additional security flags which need to be disabled as well). Of course this also means you can mess the phone up completely if you poke stuff you don't understand, so always back up before trying this type of thing, and don't remove stuff until you are sure nothing else depends on it ;)
     
    MSUgEEk, Jaycob and ScandaLeX like this.
  10. MSUgEEk

    MSUgEEk Android Expert
    Rank:
    None
    Points:
    313
    Posts:
    3,696
    Joined:
    Apr 22, 2010

    Apr 22, 2010
    3,696
    1,418
    313
    Electrical Design Engineer
    Northwestern Alabama

    Each manufacturer wants something to differentiate their Android phone from all the others, so they customize the UI. That's the reasoning behind it. Some aren't just visual enhancements, some actually have functions plain Android doesn't have. Regardless though, it can all be removed/changed by either downloading an app or rooting and installing a custom ROM. With Apple you don't even have those options really. ;)

    And as stated, the promotional apps are usually because of carriers promoting something, not from the manufacturer. Verizon fills theirs with Verizon account manager, VZ Navigator, NFL Mobile, etc etc....:eviltongue: Rooting will be able to take care of that as well. Most of that stuff can be removed or hidden after root has been achieved.
     
    Jaycob likes this.
  11. ScandaLeX

    ScandaLeX Wasn't Me
    Rank:
    None
    Points:
    223
    Posts:
    3,829
    Joined:
    May 4, 2010

    May 4, 2010
    3,829
    966
    223
    Female
    PhiLLy
    Hadron that's the best explanation for a newbie I've ever seen. Very detailed and not riddled with stuff folks can't understand.
     
    Hadron likes this.
  12. Jaycob

    Jaycob Lurker
    Thread Starter
    Rank:
    None
    Points:
    26
    Posts:
    8
    Joined:
    May 1, 2012

    May 1, 2012
    8
    1
    26
    Indeed, thanks for the great answers Hadron and svt_gEEk! I don't know if I want to get into rooting considering the dangers if I just want to change a few quirks, so the icon changer app will probably suffice just fine then. Will the icon changer app (and similar UI-modifying apps) always be "on" and consuming energy, or do I only have to have it installed on the phone?

    I'm planning on buying the phone as "SIM-free" (or whatever it's called when there's no carrier associated) so there won't be any carrier stuff on it. In this review it said that there were indeed a lot of SE apps built in too, which "are not that welcome". Although it says also that "You might want to spend 10 minutes deleting stuff to free up space." so apparently they can be deleted after all, presumably without having to gain root access!

    In reality I'm not as critical about the appearance and apps as I may sound, I just want to make sure the phone is as nice as a Huawei one my friend has in terms of UI appearance :)
     

Share This Page

Loading...