Customizing Android: how to install an icon pack on any device

moonshine_icon_pack_valient_pixels

One of the many benefits Android has over iOS is its deep and rich customization possibilities. There is no Android phone or tablet out there that is the same to another. Some prefer the custom launchers over the OEM skin while others prefer a wide variety of custom wallpapers over a select few shipped with their device. Another group of people prefer customized ringtones over presets. There are just so many different ways to adapt your Android device to fit your personality.

Beyond launchers, wallpapers, and customized sounds, you can also customize your icons with icon packs. That’s right. You don’t even have to use the icons developers and OEMs have designed. And we’re going to show you how to do just that.

Launchers

The first step to setting up a new icon pack is getting a launcher. However, I’m not going to go into all the details of what launchers are and what they do. We’ll delve into that another time. In the meantime, launchers are what you see on your home screen and app tray. For those that have a Nexus 6, what you see on your home screen is the Google Now Launcher, and for those that have a Galaxy device, what you see on your home screen is the TouchWiz launcher, and etc.

action_launcher_3_app_icon

For our purposes, we’re going to download Action Launcher 3 from Chris Lacy, which is arguably one of the best third-party launchers available. It also supports icon packs, which is a plus for what we’re trying to accomplish.

Once that’s downloaded, open Action Launcher 3 (or hit your home button) and set it as your default launcher. From there, getting a new icon pack is easy.

Icon Packs

icon-packs-for-android-google-play

Head on over to the Google Play Store, and search “icon packs” in the search bar. You can pick any icon pack you want, just make sure in its description that it says its compatible with Action Launcher 3 or whatever launcher you’re using. For my example, we’re going to use the Moonshine icon pack created by Valiant Pixels.

Find the settings of Action Launcher 3 and choose Display > Icon Pack. From there, you should see a new option available, Moonshine. Select Moonshine, and depending on how fast your phone or tablet is, it should take just a few seconds to load up the new icon pack.

Look at the before and after of using the Moonshine icon pack with Action Launcher 3:

nexus_9_screenshot_without_icon_pack_or_launcher

nexus_9_screenshot_with_moonshine_icon_pack_and_action_launcher_3

Of course, you aren’t locked in to just one icon pack. You can have multiple favorites downloaded on your system. Whatever launcher you’re using, whether it be Nova, Apex or Action Launcher, as long as it supports icon packs, it should be able to detect all the ones you have downloaded to your device. It makes switching between various icon packs seamless. After all, you never know what style you’ll feel like after you wake up the next morning.

One thing to keep in mind when using custom icon packs is that the developer doesn’t have icons for every app you download on the Google Play Store. However, if you really want a custom icon for that new app you downloaded that your icon pack doesn’t support, some developers, such as Valiant Pixels, will let you request icons. It may appear in the icon pack’s next update.

Wrap Up

The old adage rings true, you get what you pay for. However, that’s not the case with icon packs. Many developers who have developed icon packs do an extremely good job and are always adding icons to their packages with great consistency. There’s really no reason to pay for an icon pack unless you see one that you must have because of the quality of free options remains high.

You don’t have to spend a dime to add this extra layer of customization to Android, although supporting developers is a noble feat. Chip ’em a few dollars, and who knows? You might just see a bevy of new icons for your favorite apps in the icon pack’s next update.

Do you use launchers or icon packs? What’s your favorite setup? Let us know in the comments!


About the Author: Brad Ward

Brad is a tech enthusiast, writing and tinkering with all things technology since 2011. He currently bounces between the LG G3 and his beloved Moto X! His interests include reading, entrepreneurship, the gym, and of course, queso.


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  • rsrhodes76

    I use Nova Launcher. Have used it for years. It’s always staying up to date and very good at staying up to date with it’s UI as well as staying at the pace of the constant changes with devices and device upgrades.