Nothing tastes better than the product of your own hard work. This applies everywhere, from cooking to Android, where you can modify almost every element of the UI either by editing smali code or by using an Xposed Framework modules. XDA is your source for a limitless supply of guides explaining what needs to be done in order to achieve the desired effect on your device.
One such guide was recently published by XDA Senior Member DanielFlorin who showed what could be done with the Sony Xperia phones to make their UI more beautiful. DanielFlorin’s guide contains instructions about how to make the status bar semi-transparent, how to move the toggles under the clock, and how to change the separator background in Settings. All these modifications can be done at the XML level, so you don’t have to dive into smali code, which is the result of old school APKTool decompilation.
The lack of smali edits make this guide easier than most to follow. Your device will instantly change its look after pushing the SystemUI.apk back to your device and rebooting it. And with some time and effort, the effect is sure to please.
If you want to learn about modifying your Android device’s look, this guide is a good place to get started. You can find it in the SystemUI, Settings small mods guide thread.
July 29, 2014 By: Jimmy McGee
Listen, we love innovative applications and modules that expand the functionality of your device. We cover those modules often. However, sometimes you are fine with the functionality you have, and you just want it too look different. So today, we celebrate that desire.
In this episode of XDA Xposed Tuesday, XDA Developer TV Producer TK reviews an Xposed Module that lets you blur your system UI. XDA Recognized Developer serajr created the Blurred System UI module. TK shows off the modules and gives his thoughts, so check out this Xposed Tuesday video.
June 12, 2014 By: Jimmy McGee
If you spend any amount of time on XDA, you probably also spend a lot of time in your recovery. Perhaps you hate blue, or perhaps you just want to change things up a little. And since we like changing things, wouldn’t it be great if you could apply themes to your TWRP Recovery more easily?
XDA Senior Member ScumpinatoS offers up an application that allows you apply themes to your TWRP Recovery very easily. In this video, XDA Developer TV Producer TK reviews TWRP Theme Manager. TK shows off the application, its uses, and functionality, and then he gives his thoughts on the application. Check out this app review.
GIMP is a popular image editor for various operating systems. It’s free, easy to use, and can perform many complex operations on various file types including PNGs, which are widely used in Android. It’s the primary image editor on Linux, and it has no real alternative (except perhaps Pinta). This makes GIMP’s user base quite large and devoted.
GIMP can be used to create an Android theme. But thanks to XDA Senior Member Kdio, theming is now quite a bit easier for GIMP users. Kool Android Transmutation Kit is a set of tools that create a ready-to-flash ZIP file with newly themed files and XMLs. These tools work both on Linux and Windows, and can theme every variant of Android to date, including HTC Sense and Samsung TouchWiz.
KatKit then builds, signs, and zipaligns files to make them ready to use. KatKit requires Java and GIMP to work. Linux users also need to have root privileges to set correct permissions onto the files.
If you are a theming enthusiast or wish to become one, make your way to the tool thread and give Kool Android Transmutation Kit a shot.
February 9, 2014 By: Tomek Kondrat
Every new version of Android offers a tweaked graphical style. KitKat’s UI differs a bit from the more prominent Holo blue from Ice Cream Sandwich and Jelly Bean, as that blue color was replaced by aesthetically appealing white. Unfortunately, some elements still appear to be taken directly from Jelly Bean, which is most likely true.
If you’ve ever wondered how “proper” KitKat should look, you should take a look at the guide presented by XDA Senior Member enricocid, who made a KitKat look more KitKat-like. Enricocid used some values from the SlimROMs repositories and shared the smali code, which can be used to complete the look of KitKat. Many elements were changed, such as the buttons, progress bars, page indicators, and more. More screenshots with applied changes can be found in the thread.
If you own a Nexus 4, 5, or 7 and don’t want to look deep inside into smali code, you can easily download a ready-to-use modifications that can be applied in the recovery. But if you want to play with smali code, don’t forget to download some tool to recompile the application, and of course make sure that your device is rooted.
January 31, 2014 By: Tomek Kondrat
Android is extremely popular largely due to the fact that users can easily modify its look, which applications to use, and basically anything else. Changing your look is not only a wallpaper, launcher, or new icons. Rather, some deep changes can be done with custom themes that are not so hard to create.
With elementary knowledge of photo editing and a willingness to learn, you can create your own theme. XDA Senior Member Ayush Singh wrote a thorough guide on understanding the process of making a theme. The guide initially was aimed at the Sony Xperia Z1, but it can be used with almost every device, as themes don’t differ much in their structure. Ayush Singh presents the process with text and some screenshots, so so you can easily compare them to your own work in progress. Theming brings a lot of fun and can totally change the look of your device. With slight modifications, you can build a theme alongside your personal ROM.
You can find everything you need to create a theme by visiting the guide thread. Make your way there and start reading. And while you’re at it, check out yesterday’s interview with a popular theme creator.
December 28, 2013 By: Tomek Kondrat
Theming has become an art on Android. Changing the look of your device is a complicated process, as sometimes very small elements need to be modified. To accomplish this, many themers often use really advanced graphical tools like Photoshop. But editing elements one-by-one is a time consuming task, so an automated process would be handy.
PNG files used in Android are saved as a NinePatch PNGs, which are a bit different than regular PNGs. The border has to be transparent and use a black one pixel width. In short, they differ. That’s why the batch tool presented by XDA Forum Member F4bioo might be useful.
This Windows-only tool gives themers the ability to work on several .9.png files simultaneously. F4bioo made a short tutorial detailing how to use this tool, along with screenshots and a YouTube tutorial video. 9Compile also has some extra features like InjectTheme, which allows you to apply the changes directly into the APK without breaking zipaligning.
If you are planning to start some theming, you should make your way to the tool thread and download the latest version.
December 26, 2013 By: Tomek Kondrat
Changing the look of open source apps is relatively easy. All you need to do is to download the source, add new images, and compile. Things get more complicated when the application’s author does not provide the source code and the app needs to be decompiled and recompiled using something like APKtool.
Aware of this situation, the XDA Forum Member Ankush menat created a tool to ease the process of changing the look of your favorite apps. This Windows-only tool allows you to modify application contents by extracting them to a specified output folder. Then, you can use popular applications like Gimp or Photoshop to edit the PNG files. After you’re done editing, you recompile the application and push it back to your device through ADB (or simply install it for non-system apps). The tool creator also provides a short guide on using the utility. The only things you need to use this tool are Windows OS and Java Runtime Environment 6 or 7.
More information and download files can be found in the original thread. So if you’re looking for a way to change the look of your favorite applications, go there and give this a shot.
December 23, 2013 By: Tomek Kondrat
Theming is one of the most interesting aspects of Android. Modifying the look of various UI elements often leads to as noticeable of an impact as getting new features. There are lots of ways to modify the look of your screen, but what to do when you want to modify only one element?
There is an app in the Play Store called ZipThemer. Basically this tool allows you to add some custom UI elements to your favorite custom ROM’s update.zip file. XDA Recognized Contributor matthew0776 gathered tons of interesting mods together and called it a Candy Shop, and it is indeed full of sweetness. The current set is intended for use with the Nexus 4. But with a little modification, it can be used with almost any device. Currently the lock ring, glow dots, lock pattern, search light and soft keys can be modified. The number of mods is impressive, and I’m sure everybody will find something interesting. For those of you who are less familiar with ZipThemer, an instructional video can also be found in the original thread.
If you are into theming and want a unique look for your device, visit the original thread to learn more.
October 6, 2013 By: Will Verduzco
One of the main reasons why many of us choose to use Android rather than a more locked down mobile OS is customization. Simply stated, Android allows us to tailor our devices to our own needs and tastes, in order to make them truly our own.
By virtue of its supremely modular nature and fantastic intent system, Android allows you to select default apps for pretty much anything. But what if instead of changing your default applications, you’d rather change the way things look? XDA Senior Member Snndev presents XThemer to help accomplish most theming-related tasks on Sony Xperia devices.
XThemer isn’t exactly new. In fact, the first version appeared a little over a year ago. However, two days ago, XThemer was given a massive overhaul to version 4, featuring a new interface that brings much easier theming. XThemer’s new interface allows users to create custom recovery-flashable themes to personalize exactly how the device’s UI looks and feels. And just as before, it is compatible with a wide range of Sony Xperia devices.
Make your way over to the original thread to get started with the customization fun.
So much of our Android experience is dependent on modifying various APKs. Modding, theming, ROM and app developing in one way or another often require some sort of tweaking, modifying, or refashioning of an APK. So XDA Senior Member XperienceD has decided to create a ‘Definite APK Modding and Theming’ thread intended for everything to do with modding and theming.
XperienceD starts this thread off with a thorough, ‘all-in-one’ guide on APK decompiling and recompiling, signing and zipaligning, .9PNGs, and flashable CWM zip files. Categorized into these respective sections, the guide comprehensively covers every tool, step, and code with sufficient detail and covered minutiae needed. He does so in such a way that any novice or aspiring developer without an engineering or computer science degree can follow. XperienceD eases the process with asides of advice, links to other guides, external resources and sites, and the inclusion of numerous helpful visuals and videos.
XperienceD’s guide is most definitely one of the more thorough and comprehensive guides that I’ve come across. Not only is it a great starting point for the beginner, but even the experienced folks may find the guide worth a read and a bookmark. So if this has gotten you curious, make sure to check out the original thread for more information.
June 23, 2013 By: Samantha
One of the first steps to theming brilliance for any aspiring themer is the changing of application icons, a skill that any experienced themer will undoubtedly need in their endeavors. And the great thing is, the process of doing so is not that difficult. Because of this, any novice can have a crack at it without the risks of the more complex activities.
Written by XDA Senior Member Rajeev, this simple and straight forward guide breaks down the process of changing app icons into ‘bite-size’ steps that are easily comprehensible and followed. Using the default phone book app as an example to demonstrate the procedure, the tutorial guides you through navigating the chosen APK with 7zip File Manager, finding where the right image files are located, and replacing them with custom icons of your choosing. The process is also illustrated visually with accompanying screenshots of the various steps. Of course, keep in mind that updating the app through the Play store will reverse this modification.
Changing icons of applications this way is usually recommended over using third party apps such as Desktop Visualizer since the changes will be consistent throughout your device rather than being limited to the home screen. So if you would like to give this a go, be sure to visit the original thread for more information.
[Screenshot courtesy of neizel]
Icons are some of the most commonly themed elements of the Android UI, and there is certainly no shortage of great looking icon packs available for download. The downside, however, is that some of these packs are designed to be used with specific launchers. And if you are anything like I am, quite attached to your launcher of choice and unwilling to switch, this can be frustrating. While there are ways of making use of any icons on any launcher, they can often be tedious if the compatibility isn’t there to begin with. With a little help from the Xposed Framework though, that process can be simplified considerably.
XDA Senior Member ruqqq developed Icon Themer, an Xposed module that allows you to use icon packs designed for specific launchers on a variety of other popular launchers quickly and easily. The module also offers a more consistent theming experience than other methods, as the icons are applied system-wide instead of simply on your home screen. The mod supports both paid and free icon packs available via the Play Store, and it will work on both odexed and deodexed ROMs. You need to be running Android 4.0+ with root access and of course have the Xposed Framework installed. After that, you can simply download the icon pack of your choice and apply it through Icon Themer.
Check out the modification thread for more information.