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Google has an odd quiz called the #myAndroid Taste Test that will choose your wallpaper, launcher, icon pack, and more for you

In the age-old comparison between Android and iOS, one of the biggest talking points for Google's mobile OS is the level of customization it offers. No matter what Android phone you buy, you can make it look like your very own through different launchers, widgets, icons, and much more. To capitalize on this, Google has released a strange quiz of sorts that aims to curate homescreens for users.

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Roman Nurik's Android Asset Studio gets a dazzling visual refresh

The Android Asset Studio, a tool developed by Googler Roman Nurik, is indispensable for developers and designers alike. Need to generate a nine-patch without stopping to think about where your 1px black lines need to go? How about a quick icon or two? The Asset Studio has you covered. But for all its useful functions, the last time we had a major visual refresh to cover was back in 2012 when it adopted all the #33B5E5, #holoyolo goodness of Android's older design language.

That changed overnight when Nurik launched a massive visual refresh for the studio, along with cleaner code in an effort to make contributing easier.

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[Update] ADW Launcher 2 leaves beta with discounted premium unlock for a limited time, users disgruntled by the change

ADW Launcher was one of my first introductions into Android customization. For the longest time, it was the cornerstone of my homescreen strategy and I'd spend hours perfecting a setup with icons, colors, widgets, until I'd start again a couple of days later. Heck, one of the first Android roundups I ever wrote (warning: not an AP post) was about customization and had ADW Launcher as the first recommendation.

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[Deal Alert] Nova Launcher Prime is $0.99 ($4.00 off) on the Play Store until January 1

Nova Launcher needs no introduction - it's arguably the most customizable and polished third-party launcher for Android. The base version supports all the usual home screen stuff, as well as icon themes, color controls, multiple app drawer and home screen styles, the ability to import layouts from other launchers, and much more. Nova Launcher Prime (the paid upgrade) goes even further, offering the ability to hide apps, create tabs or folders in the app drawer, unread counts on icons, and more.

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Material design guidelines updated with guidance on cross-platform design, app shortcut icons, help, & more

Since Google introduced material design in 2014, the questions of whether and how to use the design language on other platforms like iOS has lingered. But Google hasn't been a stranger to material on iOS. Inbox users for instance should feel right at home moving between iOS and Android, as many of the interface's core components are shared.

In an update to the material guidelines today, Google is taking a more explicit position on the matter with new guidance for bringing material design to iOS and web. The guidance definitely isn't comprehensive - it doesn't dive very deep into the more nuanced considerations for cross-platform design like platform-specific feature sets, esoteric navigation and action patterns, etc.

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Opinion: My early thoughts on Google's round icons (and consistency for its own sake)

By the time this post goes up, I'm sure most of our readers will have seen Google's circlified icons in the new Pixel launcher, bound for the new Pixel phones. I've been asked a few times what I think about the new launcher and, for the most part, I don't have a strong opinion. But I do have some thoughts about the circlified icons, some guesses at the rationale, and some thoughts about the downsides of consistency for its own sake. As with any written-from-the-outside post about design, I want to note up front that we aren't privy to any research, data, or other information Google used to make its decisions, so the best we can do is respectfully speculate and ponder.

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Pixel Launcher and Android 7.1 Sneak Peek Part 2: The return of Launcher Shortcuts [APK Teardown]

Part 1 of this teardown broached the subject of a new set of circular launcher icons Google is creating for use on the homescreen, possibly just for the Pixel Launcher. It likely speaks to future plans for the look and feel of Android, but there's no denying that new icons are cosmetic – they don't actually do anything. Part 2 of this teardown switches over to the functional side as evidence shows Launcher Shortcuts will return with Android 7.1.

The Launcher Shortcuts API was introduced with the second Android N Developer Preview and quickly gained attention as a spiritual copy of the Home Screen Quick Actions introduced with iOS 9, and inspired many theories that pressure-sensitive screens would become a standard in Android.

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Pixel Launcher Sneak Peek Part 1: Google's new circular launcher icons [APK Teardown]

If there is anything you can count on to remain the same in Android, it's that Google is continually looking to change it. The visual style of the world's leading mobile operating system is updated every year as new versions are released, but it's with Google's own apps that there are almost constant shifts in what we're seeing. As we all know, Android 7.1 is in the works, and it's expected to be released alongside the upcoming Pixel and Pixel XL phones, which themselves will include a brand new (and much leaked) Pixel Launcher. For its latest daring design move, Google appears to be adopting a new look for the home screen, and it's all about circles.

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[Hands-on] ASAP Launcher is a familiar launcher with no homescreens, no widgets, no folders, and several cool features

Over the past couple of days, I've been trying a new Android launcher called ASAP. Although I am not sure the name fits the launcher well, or is appropriate enough for my use — after all, I have perfected Nova's folders to my habits — I do appreciate several of ASAP's features and think it could be a great fit for many users.

What you need to know about ASAP though is that while it looks like most Android launchers, it doesn't work like them at all. There are no widgets, no multiple homescreens in the traditional sense, no app folders, and not even icons on the homescreen itself. ASAP does away with all of that and focuses on quick access to the app drawer, an expandable dock, and several cards to complement the main homescreen. It might sound horrid to some of you who are accustomed to many of the missing features, but it does work in its own quirky way.

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[Deal Alert] Nova Launcher Prime is 99¢ ($4 off) in the Play Store for a limited time

There was some stiff competition for alternative launchers in the early days of Android, but now thanks to tireless dedication and improvement from the developer, the excellent Nova Launcher stands at the top of the pile. Nova has been one of our favorite apps since it debuted way back in the Ice Cream Sandwich days, and while it's quite serviceable as a free app, the $4.99 upgrade to the Prime version is worth every penny. Luckily, you won't actually have to pay every penny today: it's on sale for 99 cents.

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