Customize Your Android Home Screen With Widgets and Themes

The Android home screen is like your desk: It’s where you use and organize your applications in a way that’s most effective for you.

Because you go to the home screen after pressing the convenient Home button, you should dedicate it to shortcuts for your most frequently used applications. Out of the box, Google puts several of the most commonly used applications (Maps, Gallery, YouTube, Market, Phone, Gmail, Browser, and Voice) on the home, along with two widgets: the sleek Google search box across the top and the new News & Weather widget at the bottom.

Customize Your Android Home Screen With Widgets and Themes

The best feature of the home display is that it’s completely customizable.

Long-press a shortcut, widget, or whatever, and a slight vibration (known as haptic feedback) tells you that you that you can move that item. Longpress an empty space on the home, and you’ll be prompted to add a shortcut, widget, folder, or wallpaper to that screen.

In addition to apps, the Nexus One’s home screen can display widgets, which are little apps that display dynamic information on the home. Power Control is another useful widget which allows you to toggle various Nexus One settings; many other widgets display everything from clocks to the weather to your Twitter timeline.

Another great feature of Android’s home display is that there are five of them, so when your primary home screen fills up (as it inevitably will), you can easily add apps and widgets to any of the Nexus One’s four additional home screens. Just swipe your finger left or right to navigate to the additional screens.

When you fill all five home display, you’re maxed out. Android 2.1 currently has only five home screens that you can customize with shortcuts, but the only limit to the number of apps that you can store on your phone is the amount of memory in it.

If you forget which home screen a particular app is in, you can invoke a cool thumbnail view by touching the left/right dots at the bottom of the screen. When you do, you see five miniature home display, complete with miniature app icons and widgets.

When you spot your app, touch its thumbnail to be whisked directly to that particular home screen. Good stuff.

Managing apps and widgets

When you want to remove an app or widget from the home (and this will happen), simply long-press its icon. You’ll notice that the gray Launcher icon turns into a trash can. Simply drag the item’s icon to the trash can to remove it from your home. The icon and the trash can glow red when they touch, confirming the deletion.

This procedure doesn’t delete the application itself from your phone-just the shortcut or alias to the app. To permanently remove (or uninstall, in Android parlance) an application that you’ve downloaded, simply follow these steps:

1. Launch Android Market.

2. Press the Menu button.

3. Touch Downloads.

4. Scroll to the app that you want to uninstall.

5. Press the Uninstall button.

You can also manage certain applications by touching Settings >Applications > Manage Applications and then touching the app’s name to open the Application Info screen. In this screen, you can press the Manage Space button to manage the amount of space that the application is using or press the Uninstall button to uninstall an app update that’s causing problems..

Using the Launcher

The home display is where you store frequently used apps, shortcuts, and widgets. Touching the gridlike icon in the bottom center of the home screen opens the Launcher, which displays a scrolling list of all the apps installed on your Nexus One.

Applications are sorted alphabetically. You can scroll through them vertically by flicking upward or downward anywhere inside the Launcher screen. You can launch an app from this screen either by touching its icon or by pressing the trackball when the app’s icon is highlighted.