I used to have a lot of custom ROMs installed on my phones, playing with it around, now I kind of settled to a setup that completely suits my needs and preference. My current device is Sony Xperia Z3 Compact purchased about a year ago.
Nova LauncherThe first thing I do on phones/tablets is replacing the manufacturer home screen app with Nova Launcher. Brief list of advantages over any stock launchers:
- Grid size setting (both home screen and list of apps)
- Ability to hide app icons
- Number of icons in dock
- Auto rotate
- Widget resize
- Full themes/icon packs support
- Display of count of unread items with TeslaUnread (Nova Prime version only)
- Export/Import of the settings (meaning you can buy a new phone or flash a ROM with no stress at all)
The free version is completely usable however I recommend buying the full version to enjoy the notification counts and support the developers.
Nova Launcher Prime (~$5)
TeslaUnread for Nova Launcher
|Nova Launcher with DashClock Widget|
DashClock Widget + extensionsNow this is the real thing! DashClock is in my opinion one of the best things that happened to Android. It's almost the only master widget you need. I was using the phone with only one home screen with DashClock with a couple of useful shortcuts.
Why is DashClock so amazing? Extensions are the answer. There is a quite long list of extensions you can install and use with it. You can have the info you need all the time by choosing the extensions that are important to you and configure them properly. I especially like the fact that most of the extensions display content only if it's available. If there are no unread emails, the email extension won't take any of the valuable prime space on your home screen. You can make your own order of the extensions, prioritizing the important text messages/emails at the top, then fall back to weather, next calendar entries, next alarm etc.
I have set the background to be completely transparent and keep the font color white. The best results are with a dark background, I'm using Tapet app to automatically generate abstract motives wallpapers with a lowered brightness setting so the white text is always readable. To save space, you can hide the clock
These are my top picks:
- Missed calls (DashClock default)
- Text messages (DC)
- Gmail+ (https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=net.solapps.dashclock.gmail)
- BetterWeather (https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=net.imatruck.betterweather)
- BetterCalendar (https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=de.squareseven.BetterCalendar)
- World Clock (https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.brennasoft.worldclockextension)
- Sunrise and Sunset (https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=de.bashtian.dashclocksunrise)
- Next Alarm (DC)
I didn't use any screen lock security until it was required when I installed Android Pay. I spent one whole day in pain of entering the pattern every time I touched my phone. The app I found trying to find a solution is Gravity Screen. I set the phone's delayed lock (Settings / Security) to 10 minutes and tweaked the Gravity Screen's settings to work in the manner I found most convenient.
There are multiple use cases you want to have your screen turned off or on according to the data that comes from the proximity sensor and gyroscope. For example putting the phone on the table facing down, putting the phone into a pocket, picking it up. It even has an option to detect that the phone is lying face up on the table and you can extend the screen time out just by covering the proximity sensor for 1.5 sec.
Ultimate Rotation Control
My history with this app goes back to times I was a Samsung Galaxy S Relay user - that's the almost extinct species of the hardware keyboard phones. By working with an open keyboard, the display was in landscape and a lot of devs take a shortcut and build a fixed portrait design. And there are devs fighting back this trend and as a result we have apps forcing the landscape layout. It has a cool per app settings option that can override the global one. So after days of use you'll end up having all set up to your needs.
Ultimate Rotation Control
Voice NotifyThe motivation to find an app that will read the notifications came from mountain biking. I stopped the bike when in the middle of climbing the hill just to read an email message that was not important at all or a facebook message saying "ok".
The application itself looks like it's been around for a while (no fancy Material Design, more like Android 2.x interface) but it just works! I use it to read the notification content in case the screen is off and headset connected. The most valuable for me was the information if the incoming notification is important enough to have a look at the screen or it's something that can wait.
I'll be happy to read any your comments. Please, share your experience and favorite apps that do the same.