Android enthusiasts will always argue that Google’s mobile operating system has one key advantage over Apple’s — its seemingly limitless customisation options.
By default, you can drag and drop app icons and widgets wherever you please, add extra home screens for quick access to your favourite apps, and switch out skins.
But there’s only so much you can do with Android out of the box.
That’s where launchers and lock screen replacements come in. These are customisable skins that are made specifically for adding more functionality to your smartphone’s lock screen, homescreen, or app launcher.
They’re one of the best ways to get more out of your device without having to hack it, which poses the risk of voiding your phone’s warranty and possibly damaging it if it’s done incorrectly.
It’s not the only launcher of its kind. There are dozens of other options, some of which that have been very well-received among Android users such as Buzz Launcher. Although Start doesn’t offer as many customisation options as Buzz, it has plenty of themes to choose from and an attractive, smooth interface.
Here’s a quick look at how Start changes your Android lock screen.
After installing the free Start app from the Google Play store, your lock screen will look like this. Notice the list of icons along the side of the screen and the ring toward the bottom. These icons are called plugins, which are quick shortcuts to certain apps such as Twitter, your image gallery, abd an RSS feed among others.
When you slide your finger over the ring, a few different app categories will jump out such as messaging apps, camera apps, contacts apps, and more. These can be customised too, which we’ll get into a little later.
To access all of the plugins along the left side of the screen, simply hold your finger over an icon and slide it out. Here’s what the Twitter plugin looks like in Start.
If you don’t want to use your lock screen wallpaper, Start offers a bunch of different free themes to choose from through the Google Play Store. We decided to go with the Star Wars theme.
You can browse for themes, switch out the apps that you can access by holding your finger over the ring, and edit your plugins through this menu. You can launch this menu by tapping and sliding out the menu icon in the upper right hand corner of the screen.
Through the settings menu, you can customise the app shortcuts you access through the Start lock screen. In the messaging category, for example, you can choose to add any messaging apps you use most frequently such as WhatsApp and Snapchat.
If you get sick of Start and want to return to your standard lock screen, you can disable it by heading over to the settings menu in Start and tapping the Enable Start switch.
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