Android is beloved by millions because it’s endlessly customizable. Want to use a different launcher? There are a ton of options in the Google Play store. Same goes for icon packs, of which we’ve covered extensively in the past. If you don’t like TouchWiz, Sense or even the way vanilla Android looks, it’s easy to change up the look and feel of your phone to make it look exactly the way you want it to. That’s the beauty Android has to offer.
In the above video, Mark will go a little more in-depth into the modding community, and talk about some apps he uses that require root access. You’ll know what I’m talking about if you’re a tinkerer, but basically rooting Android gives users greater control over their device and software. In this instance, Mark has installed some apps that give him access to deeper permissions within both the hardware and software experience.
There are some risks involved with rooting, though the process has evolved quite a bit over the past few years. Still, even though developers have more advanced knowledge of Android, proceed with caution. Google’s Android is already at a level where most people won’t need to root to get the experience they want. But for people who love to tweak and tinker, these mods might be for you.
For the purpose of this video, we’re using the Nexus 6, so be sure to check to see if these mods work with your device before installing them.
Franco Kernel ($4.40)
A kernel is basically the go-between for your device’s hardware and software, controlling the CPU and GPU speeds of your device (among other things). With Franco Kernel, you’ll have full control over what’s happening on your device in terms of hardware. If you want to set a maximum or minimum CPU frequency, Franco Kernel will allow users to do that. According to Mark, he has kept his CPU levels at stock, and he has seen an increase in battery life.
Additionally, Franco Kernel allows Nexus 6 users to change the color temperature of the phone’s display. Google’s behemoth is a little warmer than most handsets, so being able to tweak it means colors will look more natural; it just depends on what you want.
Franco Kernel also features double-tap to wake, which is hugely convenient. If you’ve ever used an LG device, you’ll know how difficult it is to live without this feature. I wish it was standard on all smartphones.
Light Flow ($2.49)
For whatever reason, the Nexus 6 doesn’t offer LED notifications, but luckily you can change that with LightFlow. Even better, you can enable the notification light on a per-app basis. So if you want a green blink for messages, you can do that. Blue for Facebook? Done. LightFlow lets you control notification colors for more than 600 applications and system events, so go nuts.
If you have a device that supports multi-colored LEDs, LightFlow will allow the colors to pulsate simultaneously, like if you have two notifications coming in at the same time. The Nexus 6 only supports red, green and blue, so you can’t get too fancy. But LightFlow is still a neat tool to have, especially if you rely on LED flashes to know when you have received a notification.
Titanium Backup ($5.99)
Titanium Backup allows users to backup and restore apps and data with just a single tap. That’s pretty much all you need to know. If you constantly switch devices, or just want that extra level of security, Titanium Backup can be a lifesaver. It’s especially helpful if you flash a lot of different ROMs, which will delete all your files after each install. Simply restore all your data and app using Titanium Backup.
While the app is free, there is a pro version for $6, which lets you schedule restrictions and sync directly to Dropbox and Google Drive. Perhaps the best feature of the pro version is that you can uninstall bloatware—something that will be hugely welcome for owners of carrier-branded devices. I’m looking at you T-Mobile, AT&T, Verizon and Sprint!
Check out the above video to see all of these mods in action. If you want to up your tinkering game beyond the usual icon packs and launchers, you’ll want to check these out.