KitKat introduces a lot of much-needed features into Android, like better support for low-memory devices, a new storage framework, SMS integration with BLAH BLAH BLAH. We all know what the people want: transparent user interface elements! Following Nova Launcher's update to better visually match the KitKat launcher on the Nexus 5, popular alternative Apex Launcher now has a beta version that does much the same thing.
The beta version was released to the Apex Launcher Beta Google Group, which you can find here. Then click this link and follow the instructions to download the APK itself (it won't let you through if you're not a member). Read More
So you didn't get a Nexus 5 – that's okay. You can still get that shiny new KitKat look and feel with the new Nova Launcher beta. It won't get you all the way there (the transparent nav bar is limited, for example), but the new version of this third-party homescreen has a lot of little visual tweaks to make it look almost like the real thing.
The Nova Launcher developer posted recently about the changes that were coming in light of KitKat, and now here we are. The beta app can be downloaded from the Nova Launcher site directly if you want to try it out. Read More
One of the more drool-worthy aspects of the software from the Nexus 5 (and not necessarily Android 4.4) is the homescreen and launcher, which includes a ton of new features tied directly into Google Now and Google Search. But you might want to curb your enthusiasm: according to a report from The Verge, Google isn't interested in expanding that launcher to other devices at the moment.
Google tells us that the new Launcher on the Nexus 5 is exclusive to the phone — though the company may change its mind and offer it for the Nexus 4 and perhaps even put it on the Play store someday.
So it looks like a lot of you were excited by Themer, MyColorScreen's custom launcher which promises no-hassle installations of some of the fantastic homescreens featured on the site. After a month in closed beta the service is now open, so you no longer need a code to get access to those sweet, sweet themes. The free app is available on smartphones (and only smartphones) running Android 4.1 or later.
MyColorScreen was eager to share two key statistics with us after four weeks in full operation. One, a whopping 550,000 users applied for invitation codes to the closed beta, proving that there's quite a market for these beautiful and easy-to-apply custom themes. Read More
The Fallout series has had a unique retro-futuristic aesthetic for nearly its entire run: it's a strange mix of post-apocalyptic settings sprinkled with themes of 50s and 60s Americana. Android customization enthusiast Turner Davis has applied this unique aesthetic to a massively-customized homescreen based on the game's PipBoy gadget, now on display at MyColorScreen. Best of all, he's detailed the steps needed to recreate this masterpiece.
For the uninitiated, the PipBoy is a wrist-mounted computer, sort of like a mix between an Apple II and Turanga Leela's ever-present watch thingy. The PipBoy functions as the game's immersive inventory and menu system, and its unique combination of style and utility has spawned several real-world copies. Read More
Widgets are an indispensible part of Android for many users, including yours truly. It's just too bad that they're so ugly - who wants to use a 1080p screen for looking at Twitter feeds or checking emails when you could stare at some fantastic wallpaper instead? All joking aside, Popup Widget is a pretty fantastic solution for those who prefer their homescreens without clutter.
It's a simple idea: instead of having a big, space-consuming widget sit there all the time, hide it in a shortcut. Tap the shortcut and the widget appears, then tap somewhere else so that it disappears. Read More
So you want more than Google Play can deliver, and the Amazon Appstore leaves you cold. Russian Google competitor Yandex is here to help: they've just launched their own branded app store, creatively titled Yandex.Store. The APK is a freely-available download for any Android device, and after a standard account setup process, you've got access to an impressive selection of mainstream apps. Big titles like Angry Birds, ES File Explorer, SoundHound, Twitter and Opera Mobile are all sitting on the front page. Beneath that is a cache of apps 50,000 strong and growing.
The vast majority of apps on display are free, but there are paid options as well, with support for credit card and cell phone bill payments from dozens of countries including the United States. Read More