Pinterest Stumbleupon Whatsapp
Ads by Google

It’s surprising how much you can customize a non-rooted Android. If you want to unlock the depths of Android and open it up to full-scale modifications, yes you’ll need to root. However, rooting has its dangers 6 Key Tips To Avoid Bricking Your Rooted Android Device 6 Key Tips To Avoid Bricking Your Rooted Android Device When you own a rooted Android phone running a custom ROM, you need to take some precautions or risk "bricking" (destroying) your device. Read More so it’s best avoided if you don’t want to risk destroying your device.

That being said, some of the more useful apps on the Play Store are only available for rooted Androids, so it may be worth the effort to properly root your device Take Control: Android Rooting Guide Take Control: Android Rooting Guide As of the writing of this guide, approximately 80% of the world's population owns their own cellphone. Out of those, 1.08 billion are smartphones. Read More . For the rest of us, there are plenty of awesome tweaks we can still make without committing to that level of risk.

Note: Are you new to Android? If so, it’s okay to feel a little lost or intimidated. Let us help you get familiarized with the operating system with our frequently asked questions about Android Just Got Your First Android Device? Here Are Simple Answers To Your Everyday Questions Just Got Your First Android Device? Here Are Simple Answers To Your Everyday Questions The popularity of Android has been on a slow but steady rise. If you aren’t using an iPhone, then your options are pretty limited: Blackberry for the business folk, Android for the everyday iPhone equivalent,... Read More newbie guide.

Tweaking Your Home Screen

no-root-android-tweaks-home-screen

The home screen is the most visited screen on any smartphone. If you want to personalize your device, this is where you want to begin. Nothing says “This is my phone!” more than a home screen tailored to your tastes.

Install a brand new launcher. A launcher is an app that handles the layout and launching of apps on your home screen. Different launchers provide different layouts, aesthetics, and functionality. Some are optimized for speed Smart Launcher: Perfect For Those Who Want No Nonsense Smart Launcher: Perfect For Those Who Want No Nonsense Tired of big and bloated Android launchers that pack in useless features that you'll never use? Read More , others are packed with features Nova Launcher - Even Better Than The Default Android 4.0 Launcher Nova Launcher - Even Better Than The Default Android 4.0 Launcher Up until Ice Cream Sandwich (Android 4.0) came along, Android’s interface felt somewhat less polished than iOS’s. But with Android 4.0, Google made a clean break with the previous visual style for Android, introducing Holo... Read More , while others are minimal and simplistic 3 Best Simple Android Launchers for Your Parents or Grandparents 3 Best Simple Android Launchers for Your Parents or Grandparents One of your parents or grandparents has just gotten a new Android phone -- and it's just so confusing. The best way you can help them is to download an extremely simple launcher. Read More .

Ads by Google

The best advice is to experiment with several different launchers until you find one that you like. Take at least a week per launcher to give it enough time to see how you feel about it. Here are a few launcher recommendations Which Android Launcher Should You Use? We Compare The Best! Which Android Launcher Should You Use? We Compare The Best! Given the huge number of launchers available, there's something for everyone. Here are the best app launchers for particular needs, depending on what kind of user you are. Read More to get you started. If those don’t suit you, here are a few more launchers to try Transform Your Droid: 5 Launchers To Replace The One That Came With Your Phone Transform Your Droid: 5 Launchers To Replace The One That Came With Your Phone Android launchers are a great way to spice up your home screen with new graphics and new features. For the uninitiated, you should know that your phone already has its own stock launcher, but stock... Read More .

Install an icon pack. One way to solidify the thematic feel of your home screen is to replace all of the app icons with a unified icon pack. It’s a small change that can inject a lot of life into your device. Some icon packs cost money but we’ve collected a list of the best free Android icon packs Beautify Your Android Phone With These 5 Stunning Custom Icon Packs Beautify Your Android Phone With These 5 Stunning Custom Icon Packs Looking to beautify your Android icons, but don't want to pay money? I tested out a large number of free custom icons packs and found five of the best you can find anywhere — without... Read More that you should check out.

Install a live wallpaper. No matter how beautiful they are, static wallpapers lose their appeal over time. On the other hand, live wallpapers feel dynamic and interesting. Try these awesome Android live wallpapers to see if it’s something you enjoy.

If you’re worried about battery life, you can relax. Except in rare cases, live wallpapers are relatively light on battery drain. Worse comes to worst, you can uninstall it if it proves problematic.

Install a few widgets. Widgets are interactive elements that reside on the home screen. Some make it convenient to toggle system settings Switch On, Switch Off: Top Toggle Widgets For Android Switch On, Switch Off: Top Toggle Widgets For Android Ask any Android enthusiast about why they love the operating system and they’re likely to reply “Widgets!” These homescreen mini-apps can display all sorts of information. They also allow users quick access to core system... Read More . Others provide quick glance information, such as weather forecasts WeatherBug - Even Better Than The Weather Channel [Android] WeatherBug - Even Better Than The Weather Channel [Android] Up until about a week ago, I only knew of two legitimate weather sources: The Weather Channel and AccuWeather. Both of these services have apps on Android that provide information on the weather. Imagine my... Read More . Most Android music apps 5 Free Apps for Managing & Playing Your Music [Android 2.2+] 5 Free Apps for Managing & Playing Your Music [Android 2.2+] Whether you’re a tech-geek fanatic or a tech-illiterate layman, there’s at least one thing that resonates between both groups - a love for music. Regardless of genre, whether it's country, metal, classical, or dubstep, most... Read More come with widgets that let you control playback from the home screen.

The possibilities are endless and there are dozens of them to explore. Get started with these must-have widgets 8 Unmissable Widgets For All Android Versions (Even If Your Phone Is Old) 8 Unmissable Widgets For All Android Versions (Even If Your Phone Is Old) Android 4.0 has been out for some time now yet, according to usage studies, a large number of devices still run version 2.x. This can make buying widget apps frustrating. The latest and greatest may... Read More before moving onto some of the more advanced widgets by Beautiful Widgets Create Beautiful Widgets To Customize Your Droid [Android 2.2+] Create Beautiful Widgets To Customize Your Droid [Android 2.2+] If there's one thing almost every smartphone owner likes to do, it is customising their phone to make it just right. This includes themes, wallpaper, and choosing which apps and widgets to display on the... Read More .

Tweaking Your Lock Screen

no-root-android-tweaks-lock-screen

The next aspect of Android worth customizing is the lock screen — assuming you even use a lock screen to begin with (which you should). Wouldn’t it be great if you could interact with certain areas of your phone without having to unlock it every time?

That’s where lock screen widgets come into play. These widgets are just like home screen widgets except they reside on the lock screen. Simple enough, right? As it turns out, they’re just as useful.

We’ve rounded up some of the best Android lock screen widgets 5 Excellent Lock Screen Widgets for Android 5 Excellent Lock Screen Widgets for Android One of the perks of having an Android device is that you can natively add widgets to your home screen. Some widgets are highly specific and only useful situationally, but then there are those amazing... Read More for your convenience. Check on your RSS feeds, respond to your text messages, or pull up your contacts without needing to punch in your passcode.

Wait a minute. Don’t widgets defeat the purpose of a lock screen? Not necessarily. Widgets allow you to pick which parts of Android should be exposed while keeping everything else safe behind a lock screen’s passcode. As long as you’re smart about which widgets you install, your privacy should remain secure.

Also, feel free to check out these great lockscreen replacement apps 3 Best Free Lockscreen Replacement Apps For Android 3 Best Free Lockscreen Replacement Apps For Android Calling all Android tinkerers! Are you tired of looking at the same, boring screen every time you wake up your phone from sleep? Why not customize it and breathe new life into your phone? Read More . Think of them as launchers, but instead of replacing your homscreen, they replace your lockscreen.

Tweaking Your Battery Life

no-root-android-tweaks-battery

Battery life is probably one of your main concerns and rightfully so. For non-rooted devices, there’s some good news and some bad news. First, the bad news: starting with Android 4.4 KitKat, most battery-saving apps Find Out Which Apps Are Killing Your Android Battery Find Out Which Apps Are Killing Your Android Battery If you're getting poor battery life on your device, you likely have an app abusing your battery in the background. Find out how to identify those apps and solve your battery problems. Read More require root privileges. The good news is that you can still tweak battery life without those apps.

Disable vibrations. While vibrations are less disruptive than loud ringtones, they actually use up more battery life. Depending on how often your device buzzes, you could end up wasting a lot of juice this way — so disable it. That includes haptic feedback when typing, vibrating notifications, etc.

Purge all bloatware. Bloatware describes apps that might be useful if they didn’t take up an exorbitant amount of resources, whether that means RAM, CPU, disk space, etc. Even if you don’t actively use these apps, they can sit in the background and impact performance or waste bandwidth.

At the very least you should disable all bloatware that you can. Ideally you would delete all of that bloatware but that’s not always possible without a rooted device. Want to learn more? Here’s everything you need to know about Android bloatware What You Need to Know About Removing Android Bloatware What You Need to Know About Removing Android Bloatware Lots of phones come with annoying pre-installed software, but you can remove it. Here's how. Read More .

Use Airplane Mode. Airplane Mode disables all forms of network communication, including 2G, 3G, 4G, and WiFi. While disabled, those network components cease to drain battery life.

If you really need to squeeze extra juice out of your device, consider toggling Airplane Mode whenever there’s going to be an extended period of time where you won’t be using the network.

Tweaking Your Security

no-root-android-tweaks-security

Smartphone and tablet security should always be a prime concern, especially if you have sensitive data stored within. In this context, sensitive data is anything that you wouldn’t want a stranger to see.

Always use a lock screen. Passwords are always the first line of defense against somebody who gains access to something that doesn’t belong to them. Would you use a debit card that has no PIN? Would you buy a car that has no key lock? If you want to protect your phone, lock it!

Still, there are right and wrong ways to do it. Take heed and check out these security tips for Android lock screens Improve Your Android Lock Screen Security With These 5 Tips Improve Your Android Lock Screen Security With These 5 Tips You're perhaps reading this thinking "hah, no thanks MakeUseOf, my Android is secured with a lock screen pattern – my phone is impregnable!" Read More .

Install an antivirus app. Not all antivirus apps are made equal so make sure you install a good one Is 360 Security for Android One of the Best-Looking Security Tools? Is 360 Security for Android One of the Best-Looking Security Tools? Considering downloading 360 Mobile Security? Read our full review of it first. Read More . Malware and viruses are a big problem for all smartphones and Android devices are no exception. Do not neglect this! In case you do fall victim, here’s what to do if your Android is infected Has Your Android Phone Been Infected with Malware? Has Your Android Phone Been Infected with Malware? How does malware get on an Android device? After all, most users only install apps through the Play Store, and Google keeps a tight watch over that to make sure malware doesn't squeeze through, right?... Read More .

Consider anti-theft apps, too. Antivirus only gets you so far. What happens if you leave your phone somewhere? Or worse, if somebody picks your phone right out of your pocket? Without an anti-theft app, you may as well consider your phone to be gone for good.

Anti-theft apps 4 Android Anti-Theft Solutions Compared: Which Is The Best? 4 Android Anti-Theft Solutions Compared: Which Is The Best? Anti-theft apps like Lookout, Cerberus, Prey, and Android Lost offer a wide range of options for finding or protecting your device: GPS location, sounding an alarm, locking the phone, wiping the data completely, and more.... Read More help you track your phone in several ways: GPS positioning, security alarms, lockdown, and data erasing features just to name a few. That last feature can come in handy if you have secrets on your phone that nobody should ever see.

Tweaking Your Communication

no-root-android-tweaks-keyboard

Lastly, let’s tweak your communication settings to be as productive and pleasant as possible. When you’re browsing the web and sending out text messages all throughout the day, even the smallest improvement can wipe away your frustrations.

Install an SMS app. The stock SMS apps that come preloaded on Android models are usually basic and bland. Upgrade to one of these free alternative SMS apps Text Better With These Alternative SMS Apps For Android Text Better With These Alternative SMS Apps For Android Don't like your default SMS app? Try a new one! Read More for a smoother experience that’s complete with more features and customization options. And if you don’t use SMS, how about these free messaging apps 5 Best Free Messaging Apps For Android 5 Best Free Messaging Apps For Android Need a free way to send messages to friends and family with your phone for free? Check out these apps. Read More instead?

Install a better keyboard. If you spend any time at all typing on your device, it’s worth upgrading to a dedicated keyboard app that replaces the default one. There are a few free ones out there, but this is one area where shelling out a few dollars for a paid app can make a difference.

Need help deciding? Check out our comparison of Android keyboard apps MakeUseOf Tests: What Is The Best Android Keyboard? MakeUseOf Tests: What Is The Best Android Keyboard? In this follow-up to our post from 2011 featuring 6+ fantastic Honeycomb keyboards, I’d like to take a good hard look at four of the most popular and well-regarded sliding keyboard. Call it a “keyboard... Read More .

Enjoy Your Tweaked Android!

With all of these changes, your device should feel like a brand new product in your hands. If anyone tells you that you need to root Android to start personalizing it, show them your revamped phone and flash a smile.

Let us know how these tweaks work for you! If you have any other bits of advice for non-rooted devices, please share them with us in the comments below.

Image Credits: Smartphone Charging Via Shutterstock, Smartphone Key Lock Via Shutterstock

  1. ebolutionate
    May 8, 2015 at 1:03 am

    " Rooting has its dangers so it’s best avoided if you don’t want to risk destroying your device" - I have to disagree with this, there is a risk only for those who don't read enough forums and threads and do their homework first. But I would never say that it's BEST avoided, rooting brings so many possibilities to your android device not available on stock and it can make your device much better especially for aging devices. If you really want to tweak your device start by rooting it, but use your brain in the process.

  2. Doc
    January 17, 2015 at 12:55 am

    No mention of the Xposed Installer framework? I'm aghast...

    http://repo.xposed.info/

    • Krzysiek
      January 19, 2015 at 11:44 am

      Maybe it's because this article is for users who haven't rooted their phones? ;-)

    • Joel Lee
      January 23, 2015 at 3:04 pm

      Xposed is really neat (we have an article about it) but yeah, it does require root access so it wouldn't belong here. :)

  3. rflulling
    January 16, 2015 at 4:12 am

    My Verizon LG Transpyre aka VS810PP v1 running 4.4.2 has two quirks I would like to fix.

    One is the home, go back, and options keys take up screen space and cannot be turned off and when the software tries to make it more intrusive, it just becomes an eye sore.

    The second is the dialer. I'd like a dialer that can intelligently handle call waiting without merging or dropping both calls. Maybe this is a Verizon thing, but the dialer really bugs me if another call is coming in. I mean really, my Not Smart Land Line phone switches calls just fine, why cant the smart phone?

    The catch is figuring out where to start. I would really prefer to not download 30 different apps and having to reset the phone to factory a dozen times.

    Have any advice you would care to add to the post?

  4. Gene Baker
    January 15, 2015 at 3:51 pm

    Recommend you do these slowly one at time - just in case....

    • Joel Lee
      January 16, 2015 at 10:00 pm

      I agree. One change at a time is always a good way to go. If something goes wrong, it's much easier to pinpoint what might've caused the problem. That being said, the tweaks in the post aren't dangerous so feel free to go wild or be cautious. :)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *