Recently, I was updating the design of a friend’s Android home screen after they asked me how to create a custom Android home screen for low vision, and how to design the best Android home screen. While everybody has different preferences for how they use technology, I was happy to share different design considerations I use when creating custom Android home screens for friends and family members. Here are my tips for how to create a custom Android home screen for low vision or to make Android home screens easier to see.
First, download Buzz Launcher
In order to create a custom home screen in Android, I highly recommend downloading Buzz Launcher, as it is a free customization app that has no ads and is easy-to-use. I have had Buzz Launcher for almost eight years now and have had nothing but positive things to say about it, and my entire family uses it on their Android phones. I’ve included a download link for Buzz Launcher below.
- Buzz Launcher Download
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Should I have several screens?
One of the first things I think about when creating a custom Android home screen is if the user should have several screens or pages filled with apps or widgets. Personally, I prefer to have one screen since I don’t like having to scroll for apps and normally open apps with my voice or gestures. However, I know some people like to have all of their apps on their home screen or to have multiple widgets, so some users may prefer to have 3-5 pages with well-spaced icons and widgets.
A cool thing about Buzz Launcher is that users can customize the icon grid size so that icons are larger on the screen, and they can also customize the animation effect between screen changes for layouts with multiple screens or pages. I recommend also turning on the infinite loop setting so that users can easily switch between the bottom and top screens.
Think about your most-used apps
When choosing what to put on your home screen, think about the apps that you use the most often and are always looking for. I recommend including the following apps:
- Web browser
I also recommend apps that people use at least five times a day. For some people, these can be messaging apps, social media, news apps, or similar. My dad also likes to have a weather widget on his home screen so he can access this information quickly.
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Consider designing custom icons
When I was in high school, I frequently designed custom icons for my home screen that I would extend to be the width of my screen on the 12 x 12 grid layout. I could fit 5-6 large icons with this method and could personalize it in fun ways. My favorite home screen layout sophomore year had large, bold text labels of app names added on top of pictures of me with my best friends, which I created in PicsArt.
To change icons in Buzz Launcher, follow these instructions:
- Make sure the icon is on the home screen
- Long press the icon and select the “edit icon” option
- Click the picture icon in the top right corner of the screen
- Select your desired picture from the gallery
- Resize the image as needed
- Adjust the image size on the home screen by long pressing the icon again and selecting the “edit size” option
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Choose a wallpaper that provides good contrast
While this hasn’t been a problem on my phone, I once thought I lost a bunch of icons on my computer, when they actually just blended in with my computer wallpaper. Because of this, I recommend choosing a wallpaper that isn’t the same color as any of your icons and that isn’t too distracting. I have an entire post about selecting wallpapers and backgrounds for low vision below.
- Choosing Wallpapers and Backgrounds With Low Vision
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My current Buzz Launcher home screen is strictly gesture-based and has no icons. This way, I can use my phone without looking and don’t have to worry about tapping a specific area on the screen. Users can customize gestures by doing the following:
- Long press on the home screen until the white pop-up menu appears, and swipe to the second page for the gestures option
- Turn on gestures
- Configure individual gestures by turning them on/off, or by tapping on the gesture and choosing an action, app, or shortcut to open when the user does the gesture on the home screen
- Settings will automatically save after they are configured
I love having a custom Android home screen for low vision, and love designing home screens for people so that they can optimize how they use their phone. I hope this post is helpful for others who want to customize their Android phone or make their Android home screen easier to see!