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One of Android’s greatest strength is how customizable it is. Even without rooting your device or installing a custom ROM, you can do some incredible things to shape your phone to be just the way you want it. Installing a third-party launcher like Nova goes a long way, but you can do so much more: UCCW, or Ultimate Custom Widget, is a widget that lets you place custom clocks, battery meters, weather meters, and just about anything else right on your homescreen. Its claim to fame is the sheer number of skins offered for it on Google Play, and more skins are being added all the time.
Customization is often a painful (or at least painstaking) process, but what’s cool about UCCW is that it makes it incredibly simple: Just install the skin, and tell UCCW to show it. But before you go through that, let me share a couple of screenshots to motivate you.
What UCCW Can Do
Here’s an image from the Google Play page for the Evangelion NERV UCCW skin:
That’s not some crazy piece of concept art, or a static wallpaper. The numbers actually change, and it’s a real configuration you can install on your own device.
Or here’s another example, if your tastes are a bit more minimalistic:
This piece of drop-dead gorgeous design is called Klok, and it does cost money (about $2 at the time of this writing). These are just two examples, but I’ll show you a few more as I step you through the process of installing and configuring UCCW. Excited yet?
Step 1: Install UCCW
This is simple enough. Go to Google Play and install UCCW:
Step 2: Find Skins You Like
On its own, UCCW doesn’t do so much. It only serves as a host for skins, so that’s step two. The simplest way to do this step is to just search Google Play for UCCW; you will see pages upon pages of results, many of which are quite beautiful.
Another way to find skins you like is on sites like MyColorScreen and deviantArt (here’s a search for UCCW on deviantArt). Just browse through the results until you find something cool, and install it.
Step 3: Put It On Your Screen
Putting a UCCW widget on your screen starts like putting any other widget: with a long-press that should yield the following menu:
Next, tap Widgets, scroll down to UCCW, and tap that. You should get a menu with way too many options:
At this point, it doesn’t really matter what widget size you’ll pick, since widgets can be resized in most modern launchers anyway. Once you pick a size, you’ll find yourself in a menu showing all of the UCCW skins you’ve installed so far:
When I took this screenshot, I had just one skin installed, called Holler!. As you can see above, a skin can come packed with several different presets. Holler! comes in both black and white, with and without a battery indicator. The Evangelion skin comes with even more:
I tapped one of Holler’s variants and got this:
This isn’t Holler yet, but it’s quite clear. I did what it said (touched the widget area) and presto:
The screen looked nice at this point, but I decided to go ahead and add a battery meter skin and a weather skin:
Now we’re getting somewhere. The battery skin is called Soft Battery Bar, while the weather skin goes by. Definitely slick, but what makes it even cooler is how easy the whole thing was to set up.
Options (Or Lack Thereof)
Widgets can trigger certain actions using hotspots (such as launch Gmail or another app). If no hotspot is defined, UCCW will display a generic Options screen:
For some skins, like Clear Conditions, this screen does nothing. Changing the colors had no effect on the skin’s appearance, and most other operations triggered the error you see in the screenshot (“Feature not available for this skin”). Other skins do have options you can tweak, and their creators will usually tell you about them in the Google Play description for the skin.
If you have any sort of interest in customizing your homescreen, you need to try UCCW right now. It’s simple and fun to use, and the selection of available skins is rich and constantly growing. It’s quite a phenomenon, really. Since there are so many skins, I would be curious to hear about your favorites in the comments: Feel free to share links to skins on Google Play, or to screenshots of your own homescreen.