Despite its numerous detractors, Android is now the most widespread and most used mobile operating system in the world. There is more than enough written about the technical details of Android, but I just wanted to highlight a brief vignette of how I have found the customization options available to be absolutely incredible.
Slightly more than a year ago, I purchased an HTC Desire HD running Android 2.2 (Froyo) after being impressed with my friend Hendrik’s original HTC Desire. It was my first touchscreen device, and I had been leery of them before. The device was not my first smartphone as I had been using the Nokia e63, which was a very capable device, but apps did not integrate well and it was a bit on the slow side.
One of the first large customizations that I made to the device was installing Swiftkey X as the default input method. This virtual keyboard is much better than the default HTC keyboard (which I found to be better than the default Android keyboard). If someone like me, who is not highly technical, had been using a device from Android’s main competitor, something like this would not have been possible.
In late December 2012, HTC sent out an over-the-air update which updated the Android version and also updated HTC’s own user interface, also known as HTC Sense. When I first had the phone, I liked HTC Sense, but after a couple months of using the new HTC Sense 3.0, I was getting annoyed by the animations, random reloading for no reason and generally sluggishness.
A friend of mine, Michael, has a Samsung Galaxy Ace, and one time when we were hanging out, he showed me that he had installed GO Launcher, which completely changed the main homescreens, app drawer and lockscreen. I was impressed and installed it myself. It ran well, but I wanted something more.
After doing a little more research, I settled on Launcher Pro, an app that I’d tried previously, but never really given a fighting chance. However, with this second iteration of me trying Launcher Pro on the aging HTC Desire HD, the phone seems to have come alive all over again. Scrolling through the homescreens is fast and smooth and transitions are well done.
Perhaps the best thing about how the device is running now is that I have certain aspects of HTC Sense 3.0 that I like (i.e. app access from the lockscreen, quick settings from the pulldown menu) along with the beauty, customization and speed of Launcher Pro. This, along with the countless other tweaks and customizations that I’ve done with the phone over the course of a year have solidified my admiration for Android and the countless app developers out there who have made such wonderful things possible.