This list focuses heavily on changing or theming UI elements specifically. If you want home screen themes and visual customizations, we recommend checking out our best theming apps list here.
We’d also like to give an honorable mention to OEM tools to change things up. For instance, stock Android lets you choose between navigation buttons and gestures. Samsung has Good Lock and that lets Samsung users do all sorts of crazy things to their devices. It’s worth Googling around a bit to see if your phone OEM has some hidden or extra tools to customize your experience.
- 10 best Android themes, theming apps, and customizations
- 10 best icon packs for Android (by developer)
Gboard or SwiftKey
Gboard and SwiftKey are arguably the two best keyboard apps on Android. They both feature extensive theming, decent features, gesture typing, and a variety of other features. The experience is a little different between the two. Gboard is a little simpler with more mainstream features while SwiftKey is a little more power user friendly. In any case, you use your keyboard a ton and you can make both of these look basically however you want to. This is a good place to start if customization is your goal. Both apps are entirely free with no advertising. SwiftKey used to charge for themes, but not anymore.
Energy Ring and Energy Bar
Price: Free / Up to $24.99
Energy Ring and Energy Bar are two decent Android customization apps. Energy Bar puts a battery gauge along the top of your phone in the form a bar that goes down as your battery does. Meanwhile, the Energy Ring variant turns your punch hole camera into a battery gauge. It’s a neat way to kind of lean into the whole hole punch thing while still giving yourself some functionality. The apps support most modern Samsung devices and the generic Energy Ring app adds several more. Everything else can use Energy Bar. The apps have various customizations to make them your own and they seem to work pretty well without any ridiculous battery drain. The price varies but only because the developer works on an optional donation system.
IFTTT is an exceptionally powerful app. You use it to automate a variety of tasks. It works almost seamlessly between 600 different apps, including Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa. You can have it do a variety of things and there are a ton of IFTTT recipes on the web. This app customizes the stuff that your phone does rather than how it looks. With all of the compatible apps and the thousands of recipes, IFTTT does so probably better than any other app aside from maybe Tasker. It’s also entirely free with no in-app purchases or ads.
KWGT, KLWP, KLCK
Price: Free / $5.99 (each)
KWGT, KLWP, and KLCK let you custom make a bunch of stuff for your phone. KWGT is a widget maker that lets you add a bunch of information, skins, and designs. KLWP is a live wallpaper creator that does basically the same thing as KWGT but for wallpapers. Finally, KLCK lets you custom design a lock screen. All three apps have steeper than average learning curves, but you can also find pre-made themes on the Play Store and in other places in case you just want to borrow someone else’s design. You can do a lot of seriously cool things with these apps if you take the time to learn them.
Price: Free / $3.99 per month / $29.99 per year
Reddit is a decent spot for a lot of Android customization. There are various subreddits dedicated to the task, including ones for popular customization apps like IFTTT and Tasker along with a generic AndroidThemes subreddit with a bunch of neat home screen ideas. Most posts show you or tell you how to achieve a certain affect, which apps to download, and how to set up everything. There are icon packs, KWGT templates, wallpapers, and anything else you can think of. Here is an example of the kind of stuff we mean. It can get a bit confusing and there is a lot of information and a few idiots here and there, but generally it’s a decent overall experience. We’d also like to give an honorable mention to TruePick’s (Google Play link) which does the same thing on a smaller scale.
Sharedr is one of the more unique customization apps. This one deals with the prompt that comes up whenever you share something. These days, the prompt shows a list of apps along with a random list of your favorite contacts. Sharedr brings order to the chaos. You can customize the prompt to only show the apps you actually want and remove the random contacts entirely if you want to. It takes a little work to set up. However, this app makes sharing stuff a lot easier once you put the time into customizing it to your tastes. It’s also entirely free with no ads or in-app purchases.
Substratum or Synergy
Price: Free / Varies
Substratum and Synergy are theming frameworks for Android devices. They use Android’s OMS (Overlay Manager System) to theme your phone. These are rather complex pieces of software. Both also work without root on some devices. However, you get the best experience with both of these on Android Oreo with root. There are a variety of themes in the Google Play Store that work with these frameworks. The prices vary, but none of it is very expensive. These are both excellent customization apps, but if push came to shove, we’d recommend Substratum first unless you own a modern Samsung device. Synergy is better for Samsung devices.
Tasker is arguably the most powerful app in the entire Google Play Store. It can do basically anything. The app can automate tasks, create new actions, and do all kinds of other stuff. Seriously, we have limited space here and it’s not nearly enough. Of course, with great power comes great difficulty. Tasker is not an easy app to use. Additionally, there are many apps with direct Tasker support and a bunch of apps, like AutoTools, that add even more stuff that it can do. Prepare to tackle a steep learning curve. The app goes for $2.99, but has no additional in-app purchases or advertisements.
Volume Control Panel Pro
Volume Control Panel Pro is one of a few decent customization apps for your volume panel. This one lets you switch between horizontal and vertical sliders, use your actual volume buttons to active it, and even do neat stuff like control your media with double taps. Additionally, you can change the colors and themes of it to match what you have going on with your current theme. It’s cheap and it worked pretty good in our testing. Volume Styles (Google Play link) is another volume panel customization app in case Volume Control Panel Pro doesn’t work for you.
Price: Free with in-app purchases
Zedge is one of the most popular customization apps. It has wallpapers and the selection is fairly decent. However, Zedge’s big draw is its ringtones, notification tones, and alarm tones. You can find a swatch of excellent sound effects, songs, and other content for that kind of stuff. Additionally, you can upload your own on Zedge’s website if you have something you want specifically and also want to share. This is one of the few really good apps for ringtones and notification tones that don’t require you to make it yourself. It’s a must try for customizing your Android device.
Bonus: Basically any launcher
Price: Free / Varies
Android launchers are where your home screens come from. You can switch them out with other launchers and each launcher brings its own set of customizations to the table. Additionally, most of them support universal customizations like icon packs. You can get a very specific look and feel depending on your launcher choice and some of them go off the rails entirely. One notable example is Armoni Launcher (Google Play link) which makes your phone look like iOS 14. We have Nova Launcher linked at the button because it’s as good a place to start as any. You can check out our full list of the best Android launchers here.
- 15 best Android launcher apps to make your home screen perfect
- 10 best 4K and QHD wallpaper sources for Android
If we missed any great customization apps, tell us about them in the comments! You can also click here to check out our latest Android app and game lists!