Launcher icons

Customization is one of the stronger points of Android. With a multitude of tweaks in UI and functionality, the platform enables users to incorporate more of their personality and needs into their devices, compared with, say, iOS. While for some, customization is skin-deep — like themes, wallpapers and graphics — others take rooting their devices as an avenue to do even more drastic customizations.

But even supposedly skin-deep customizations might require root. For instance, changing icon packs in stock launchers might sound mundane, but in most cases would require root. If you wanted to change icons, you could either switch to popular launchers like Nova, GoLauncher or Apex. At least, until now. An app called Beautiful Icon Styler will customize several stock launchers with custom icon packs, without the need for a rooted device. These include Google Now Launcher and proprietary launchers by Samsung, Motorola, HTC and LG.

According to the developer Calcium Ion Labs, users can apply third-party icon packs, such as those intended for Apex and Nova launchers. The free version includes three styles to try, and the app offers an in-app purchase to upgrade to the full version. The app is quite new, and your mileage may vary. But the developer seems to be actively responding to user complaints and queries, and has resolved quite a few, judging from the Google Play review thread.

What’s interesting here is how developers are trying to achieve these tweaks without the need for root access. Upcoming changes in the next version of Android are reportedly going to make it difficult for apps that take advantage of root functionalities. SuperSU developer Chainfire earlier pointed out how changes in AOSP will likely break root functionality in many apps. The intention is not likely to prevent rooting in the first place, but rather to make Android a more secure platform.

Therefore, developers and users will need to look to other alternatives in obtaining the functionalities commonly achieved through root. Should we expect other app developers to start pursuing these alternatives in the future?

J. Angelo Racoma
J. Angelo Racoma has written extensively about mobile, social media, enterprise apps and startups. Angelo develops business case studies for Microsoft enterprise platforms, and is also co-founder at WorkSmartr, a small outsourcing team that offers digital content and marketing services.
  • enrico

    i think this is a good step forward in customization in general-giving the simple android user the chance in customizing the device to suit his or her needs without any hassles or worrying about rooting. :O)

    Its great that we can start making such changes without compromising security and improving the android experience to the end user.

    good work guys.

  • Antonio

    Thanks for let me now this app. I always go back to GEL because I love only swipe left to open google now, but I miss the ability to change icons, now with this app is the best of both worlds without rooting my nexus 5

  • McPoulsen

    What the app called?

    • Vincentius Phang

      Beautiful Icon Styler Trial, and yes, this post didnt emphasize it enough. I had to read it all over again to find the app name.

      • MasterMuffin

        Well the link is always in the source (that people always miss though :D)

  • Vincentius Phang

    how much RAM will this app take ? does it work on xperia launcher ?

    • Rav

      not working !

    • Daniel Collins

      Probably not much, all it does is place shortcuts on the home screen. It shouldn’t require running in the background.

  • Ruz

    Why a root is required to do simple task like changing icon or anything like that? This is pathetic

    • Jayfeather787

      You need jailbreak to do the same thing on Apple. This is not pathetic at all. Did you even the title? No root required!!
      Jeez Ruz. Plus rooting phones is good. Root your device and you free their device. Using root, you can actually do a ton of customization and everything! Then there is Xposed framework, which is the greatest thing ever created. I say thing, because… I do not really know any other way to describe it. So, root is not required for this, and even if it was, it is not pathetic.

      • K2

        Doesnt rooting void the warranty?

        • Marc Perrusquia

          For most devices, but it’s easy to do a factory reset.

        • Jayfeather787

          Yes, but you can just flash stock images, and it looks untouched.

        • MasterMuffin

          Not with all OEMs and not in Europe

      • Ruz

        Do u need to root ur desktop OS for chaning icons? Cant u do endless possibilities with ur Windows OS? If the answer is No then comment

        • Jayfeather787

          Huh? I don’t use Windows. I am running Ubuntu. Well, Ubuntu on my laptop, Linux Mint of my desktop. I do not like Windows. You need to give Ubuntu/Linux Mint root for some things, like giving it permission to apply themes and icons. Comparing Ubuntu/Linux Mint to Android is more common than comparing Android to Windows because Ubuntu/Linux Mint and Android are all based on Linux. They are a lot more similar and so do not compare Windows with Android. I guess that my desktop. Plus, to install an icon pack in Windows, you might have to give it administrator permissions, which is roughly the same thing. Either way, advanced permission may be required for this task, and it may not.

          • Ruz

            U got my point then

  • Trina Morgan

    Bought and love the idea of it. Unfortunately, it doesn’t seem to work with many icons packs. Nox/Stark works but not Paper or Seriously Crazy icons. I’ve never gotten a reply from the developer.

  • Hafni

    I read in the description of the app’s page in Play Store, that it will only change the icons in the home screen. The icons of the app drawer will remain the same. Is this confirmed? If it is, then this app is disappointing. Wouldn’t it be a bit distracting having 2 different icons for the same app? But I like the overall concept of this app.

    • MasterMuffin

      That’s because it doesn’t have root permission, so it can’t actually change the icons. It’s “just” making shortcuts to the apps with an icon from some icon pack (or that’s how I believe they do it).

  • Da Fuq

    I use Unicon. It’s paid and requires root, but it gets the job done (on all launchers).

  • Spencer Rue

    I used to use beautiful icon styler to change icons on stock launcher, but this app is broken for 5.0 Lollipop. I notice the title of the post is how to change icons WITHOUT root. Is there a good way to do it with root?

  • TJ

    Awesome, this app doesnt even exist anymore. Why does android have to be a bitch about letting us customize our phone? Is it really that big of a deal for the devs to give us freedom of options?