30
Sep
th

One of the best things about Android is the degree to which the system can be customized. That extreme level of customization has allowed the community to create some pretty stunning themes that can be applied to almost any device. It's easy – all you need is a new home screen, some backgrounds, some icon packs, a few additional widgets, maybe some skin files, some other odds and ends, and lots of patience. Yeah… that's actually not very easy, come to think of it. MyColorScreen's new Themer app aims to make the process of running a complex theme a simple one-click process.

I've had a chance to play with an alpha version of Themer for a few days to see how it works. So, is this going to bring killer themes to the masses?

How It Works

When you're applying one of those complicated themes manually, you need a robust third-party launcher like Nova or Apex. The Themer app is essentially a package that includes its own launcher tied into the Themer settings and widgets. You just set it as your default, and live life entirely in MyColorScreen's world.

T2

Most actions are accessed by long-pressing in an open area of the screen. From there you can jump into the settings or make some basic tweaks to the currently selected theme. There are about 50 themes currently available in Themer, and several of those have been added just in the last few days that I've been using it. You can page through until you find something you like, then just tap Apply. That's it – really.

In addition to the launcher, Themer has a few widgets that are automatically incorporated into the themes as you apply them. There's RSS, Reddit, calendar, dialer, clock, and an all-purpose widget called the "Everything Widget." You can configure these as you like in each theme, or even add new home screen pages with more widgets (regular and Themer).

2013-09-28 04.18.33 2013-09-30 15.33.53 2013-09-30 15.34.08

2013-09-30 17.03.43 2013-09-30 17.04.06

Themer also has built-in icons and groups. For example, many themes come with folders of games, financial apps, and others. When you open the folder, you get some pre-populated apps with neat icons. You can actually pick which app these will link to. So for instance, the first time you press the mail icon, Themer will ask if you want to use Gmail or some other app for that icon. Make your selection, and Themer saves the setting in your Google account.

The place you go for new themes also contains the full Themer settings so you can change the way your home screen behaves. If you want to show/hide the status bar or change the grid size, that's where you go.

But Does It Work?

Keeping in mind this is not the final version of Themer, it's fairly impressive. The process of going through and picking themes is super-easy. You've probably salivated over some of those slick, minimalist interfaces people are always coming up with – we've even posted about some of the coolest ones. However, the complicated setup stops most people from investigating further. You really want this to be easy, because let's face it, some themes look great but are totally impractical for day-to-day use. You certainly don't want to spend 30 minutes setting up a theme only to realize it doesn't suit you an hour later.

T3

The big win here is that Themer has the potential to bring awesome themes to more users. Instead of configuring multiple widgets, changing icons, and loading overlay skins, Themer just plugs in its own widget settings automatically. It works perfectly in most cases, even with this early version. The robust widgets even let power users modify and build interesting new things.

The basics are all here and it all works, but because this is a new launcher you're going to have to make some compromises coming from something like Nova. There are some advanced settings, but you'll lose things like swipe gestures, multiple docks, and extra scrolling effects. I suspect more features will be added later, but it's something to be aware of.

2013-09-29 23.30.54 2013-09-30 15.40.41

2013-09-28 00.33.40 2013-09-28 01.15.45 2013-09-30 15.42.23

Building your own widgets also takes some time to work out. The tools are powerful, but it's not always clear how to accomplish what you want. As the app evolves, I anticipate the features will be much more refined. In the same vein, the default apps for the Themer groups aren't very easy to configure – I'm not keen on having to remove a Candy Crush Saga icon from the game folder every time.

There are still some bugs and unfinished bits, but you have to expect that with pre-release software. The wallpaper sometimes acts up, and widgets settings don't always work. This is stuff that can be worked out, though.

The bottom line is this: many of the themes in MyColorScreen's Themer are gorgeous, others are a little tacky, and some are both gorgeous and functional. This app makes it so easy to flip between themes that you'll want to try different ones. If they don't work out, you haven't wasted time and energy painstakingly configuring anything.

T1

Even though Themer doesn't have quite as many features as a fully custom theme, I suspect it's going to be perfect for a lot of users who want to spice up their device with a new look. I can't wait to see how this app evolves.

Ryan Whitwam
Ryan is a tech/science writer, skeptic, lover of all things electronic, and Android fan. In his spare time he reads golden-age sci-fi and sleeps, but rarely at the same time. His wife tolerates him as few would.

He's the author of a sci-fi novel called The Crooked City, which is available on Amazon and Google Play. http://goo.gl/WQIXBM

  • leenephi

    Nice! Definitely going to try this.

  • http://www.ronakg.com/ Ronak Gandhi

    Can you do a comparison with Buzz Launcher? https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.buzzpia.aqua.launcher

    What does Themer do differently?

    • Themer by MyColorScreen

      Themer applies a theme in one click without making the user download and configure any third-party widgets. With Buzz, after applying a theme you still have to separately download and configure widgets, it's not a one click solution. Also, the themes in Themer have much more instant functionality and work seamlessly across devices and resolutions unlike Buzz.

      • Tony

        Applied for the beta a while ago, when will it be released? I am super eager to trying and also contributing to the themes. (mewdawn@gmail.com)

        • Themer by MyColorScreen

          We will start rolling out the beta tomorrow. We'll do our best to get it to you as quickly as possible!

          • ram

            I've been using Buzz launcher and extremely impressed to see such a great theme app for Android. I'm more excited to use the Themer app and was little late in applying for the Beta to test it out....would love to test the Beta...

            My best wishes for Themer App Developers...:)

          • mrjayviper

            thanks. can't wait! :D

          • idi

            Will it be rolled out to everyone on the list today?

      • John

        So its Buzz with less widgets. Gotcha.

        • Themer by MyColorScreen

          No, not really. Buzz technically has "less widgets" since they do not have ANY widgets packaged into its launcher. You can never apply a theme in literally one click and have everything set up for you as is the case with Themer. With Themer, the theme is ready to go after you apply. You don't have to go to the Play store and download more widgets. But you can add as many third-party widgets to a themes as you like.

          • John

            So same as Buzz. Buzz has its own widgets too. But people add as many third party widgets as they like. Does Themer include the widgets in the apk? Because that would be the only difference from my seat. Yes Buzz launcher and Buzz widgets are 2 separate downloads made by the same team *Warning* I have not tested Themer... But would love to give it a shot.

          • Themer by MyColorScreen

            Themer's widgets ARE included in the Themer apk, including an RSS widget, calendar widget, "Everything Widget" (as described in the article above), and more. No separate download required and no configuration of these widgets required. It's all done for you. You just hit apply.

    • Charles Monge
    • Subhojit

      Buzz is crap. I used it and dumped it right away. All fakers are there. Most themes are copied by someone else without giving any credit. I have seen A LOT of them and the app sucks as well.

  • Momen

    can't wait :D

  • Sean Lumly

    A great idea is a great idea. This single app (if popular), will make Android much more attractive to the masses that crave the ability to customize their devices identity, but don't have the skill or patience to do it themselves.

  • Thomas’

    Nice, awaiting patiently my turn in the beta test.

  • Edward Smith

    Can't wait to test it out.

  • atlouiedog

    I'm still really looking forward to this, but it doesn't quite work as I'd hoped, though it is how I expected. I've got my fingers crossed for an email soon as I signed up pretty early.

    MyColorScreen theme authors generally give you the pieces, tell you which apps they used (launcher, widgets, etc.) to achieve the look, and give you the settings for them. I was hoping this would automate that process with each theme coming with a set of prerequisites and then would build itself for you. I'm slightly less interested with having to use a new launcher as I can get great looks, but the functionality underneath it might not work the way that I like.

    • Patrick Beliveau

      I got an email the evening I signed up for the beta saying I was one of the first 2000... If you havent received your email yet, I wouldnt hold my breath.

      I am slightly disappointed, like you on what this really does... I was very much hoping for something you described...

      Hopefully, maybe it can turn into this in future updates.

      • atlouiedog

        The last email that I received said public beta starts tomorrow and they hope to get everyone on the list into it within a few weeks. I may not get in tomorrow, but maybe within a week or so.

      • Ibrahim Jadoon

        USE THIS INSTEAD! IT DOES WHAT YOU WANT!

        http://forum.xda-developers.com/showthread.php?t=2425353

    • Ibrahim Jadoon

      THERE IS SOMETHING THAT EXISTS FOR YOU!

      http://forum.xda-developers.com/showthread.php?t=2425353

      REJOICE!

      • atlouiedog

        Thanks. Going to try this out today.

  • jayray78

    60,000 people have signed up for the beta trial so far. Any word on how many they will let in?

  • Nabil L

    Coming October 1st to everyone.

    • Adam Dominiak

      private beta is coming

  • GigiAUT

    This is where I miss having MIUI on my phone. The themes on that ROM are the best I've ever seen. If I felt like having a JB look on my phone, boom! Maybe the week after that I felt like something more iPhoney. I need to buy a phone that supports MIUI :(

  • Ibrahim Jadoon

    If you guys can't wait or want something that literally copies home-screens, check this app out:

    http://forum.xda-developers.com/showthread.php?t=2425353

    • Charles Monge

      :-) As being the dev, I can only say that's true!!!

  • Joshua

    This may not be for me, but this is an awesome app regardless. This will reach that in-between group of people who are interested in using Android for its customization potential but who aren't ready or inclined to spend a day perfecting a UCCW or Minimalistic Text widget. Personally, I fall into the latter group: I've made two complete UCCW widgets and a minimalistic text widget, as well as modified someone else's icon pack to suit me. Of course, I'm always modifying this or that until it's perfect, so I don't think I'm ever really done with my handiwork.

  • SoWhy

    Finally. I love those designs but I never had the nerve to apply all that manually

  • QDigga

    As a themer with a few homescreens on mycolorscreen.com, this sounds great. Just one more thing to appeal to those that love to customize android.

  • Tamadrummer94

    I would really like to see Google unify theming in Android. If they included it in 4.4 mandatorily and with an option to use the stock theme, it would force OEMs to either give users an option for stock, or leave the non-compliant manufacturers behind. I'm sure they could rally a lot of designer support with it too, and it'd make theming way simpler and coherent.

    • Alejandro González

      It looks like you are new to Android world. Let me explain some stuff to you:

      1. You don't have to wait anymore, Google tried to unify android design already. They developed the Android Holo UI and prepared a wonderful design guidelines for all Devs to use. But they CANNOT force it on everybody.

      2. Android is open source, Google can not force hardware manufacturers to use stock theme if they don't want, Google can not even force them to give the option to users. IT's part of being open source. Even you can take Android's source code, apply the most horrible design you could ever come up with and no one will stop you.

      What Google *could* do is to deny the use of Google Apps on Android versiones featuring non-stock-looking UIs but do you know how much Google would be hated and accused to take advantage of their position if they'd do that?

      Google pretty much already did everything in their power to unify Android design without using just plain brute force.

      • Tamadrummer94

        Thanks for that totally irrelevant, self-evident information. I wasn't talking about the design guidelines, I was talking about theming. You know, like MIUI, TouchWiz, and the like. Google could take approval into their own hands and provided the software worked with all core Android functionality, allow in to a hypothetical "theme store" and even allow it to be preloaded on devices (like HTC and Sense). However, if the feature was a mandatory part of 4.4, manufacturers would have to either let users change themes - including going back to stock - or not be on the latest version of Android and lose potential customers. Very wishful thinking, I know, but it would totally benefit the end user and make customizing Android a far simpler and more elegant experience.

  • hyperbolic

    Great review.
    Still in beta phases but I really hope it will have no or minimum wakelocks.

  • PainToad

    They sure are some ugly themes. I guess this is why 17 year old pimple kids don't work as UX designers at Google, Apple, HTC or Samsung...actually maybe they do at Samsung.

    • Alejandro González

      Don't be so closed. Professional UI designers of the companies you mentioned above must design thinking about the needs of an incredibly HUGE group of people. They strive to make it easy, usable and "pretty" to the eyes of the majority.

      But the "17 years old pimple kids" as you so like to call them, don't. They design at their own taste and if you happen to like it as well, use it, if you don't, shut up, no one is imposing it to you. And if you are going to criticize them, go ahead, but criticize as an adult would, not as a 17 teenager, insulting and looking down on everything because they are just "so much betta".

  • Milind

    I was looking forward to this, but hadn't realized that it replaces the launcher. I don't think I'm ready to replace Nova, even for a slick theme.

    • Alejandro González

      Well, it was pretty obvious, wasn't it? A third party app cannot modify your launcher settings besides the wallpaper and adding icons to the home screen...

      But I do agree with you, I'm pretty happy with Nova, but hey, that doesn't mean that, in time, this launcher can get the nova features (or the most useful ones).

      I will keep an eye to this app and I'll be watching its progress.

      • Milind

        I guess it was obvious in retrospect. It would be nice if it got all Nova's features. But it would also be nice if somehow it could work with other launchers with some hooks.

  • Pramod

    Signed up just now , OMG 66,681 ahead of me !!

  • MrJayTee74

    Really enjoying the app. Agree that swiping docks and gestures missing will take some getting used to but it's great for basically having a different set up each day with out the grief of destroying a home screen that took you hours to build. Feature I'd like to see most would be "global settings" ala Minimalistic Text so that I don't need to swap Fahrenheit for Celsius each time and reconfigure the RSS feed when I swap themes. Great app

  • irking

    so i just got my htc one can you give me a step by step guide if possible?

  • Tom cunningham

    Im gonna stick with buzz launcher themes wont fucking load ive tried refreshing it and reinstalling it still wont load themes!!

  • Asher

    pls update a patch for phone oppo find 7!