My Android Home Screen
and my Lock Screen, too
This is a quick guide to the most visible apps on my phone. Which ones enjoy prime real estate?
I feel strongly about enabling Android’s full-device encryption feature, although there’s some debate over its value. As such, the lock screen must be set to prompt for a PIN or a password, there is no way to enable the face-unlock, pattern or swipe-to-unlock prompts with this security feature enabled.
Android 4.4 allows custom widgets on the lock screen. I’ve replaced the default Clock widget with DashClock. This widget is, itself, extensible with additional plugins. I’ve got DashClock Battery Extension to add current battery information, and DashNotifier for DashClock to make selected notifications more glance-friendly.
Also, a swipe from the right-edge will bring up Google Camera, which is the stock camera app for Nexus devices. It’s worth a look if you have Android 4.4 and aren’t in love with your current camera app.
Notice that none of the apps on this screen have icons recycled from iOS. If an app developer can’t produce an attractive icon for Android, then they don’t make it to this screen. This obviously hurts me more than it hurts them, but I have principles and I like my icons to be consistent with Google’s suggestions.
My wallpaper is provided via the Muzei Live Wallpaper app. Each day, a random famous work of art graces the background. This app is extensible, so other art packs can be added by third-parties.
Rather than put Google Calendar’s launcher icon on my Home screen, I have it’s 2-by-2 widget instead. It uses quadruple the space, but it shows my most immediate appointments at a glance. I can also tap it to open Google Calendar, so there’s no loss of functionality.
I have the Google Play Store icon on my Home screen. I love using the latest versions of apps, so much so that the automatic background update process is just not fast enough for me. The Android 4.3 launcher conveniently had a dedicated Play Store icon in the top-right of the app drawer, but that’s gone in Android 4.4, hence its presence on my Home screen.
Pocket Casts is the best podcast app for Android. You can install it on multiple devices and they are kept synchronised. It’s also highly-attractive, and the developers show thoughtful use of Google’s Android design suggestions.
I’m currently using the Photos gallery app provided by Google+. At this time, I’m not entirely convinced that it is superior to the stock Android gallery, but this isn’t critical functionality for me so I’ll indulge Google with more time to impress.
Timely replaces the default Clock on my phone (and my tablet). It synchronises alarms and alarm state between devices. So I can configure an alarm to (optionally) go off on both, and a snooze or reset action on my phone automatically controls my tablet, too. The app also offers stopwatch and timer functionality.
I’m curious about the placement of the Phone app on the dock. How long until this app is the least-used of all the default apps for the majority of smartphone buyers? If people move to WhatsApp, Skype, Hangouts and Facebook for voice calls, will carriers even need to offer traditional voice services?