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Change your stock launcher icons, no root required

May 21, 2014
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, HTCand 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?