Android despite all it’s popularity can be a little frustrating to use. Unlike iOS, Android experience totally depends upon the OEM of your Android device. This is because most of them decide to overlay a custom UI over native Android interface which is not always the best way to go about things one feels. We have seen Sense UI, Touchwiz, Motoblur and Timescape at various points being criticized for slowing down the true native Android experience that the device can offer.
So one solution to the problem is unlocking the bootloader of your device and Rooting it. However, this may not be everyone’s cup of tea as rooting can void the warranty of your device and also if not done with enough care permanently brick your device. So if you like to play safe with your Android device, then here are a few simple apps you would like to download from the Google Play Store to give you a more native Android Vanilla experience for your device.
The first thing you should download from the Play Store is a launcher to replace the default UI of your device. There are plenty of third party launchers available, and not just they give your device a more simplified look, some of them also help in better memory management of your device meaning you can conserve precious battery juice on your device.
The launcher we cannot recommend enough is Nova Launcher. It is available both for free and paid versions in the store, and the paid version does give you a few more customization. Nova Launcher also seemed to be a lot more efficient with memory management and consumed least power. The application gives you a stock Android look to your device, and if you want the icons of your device to look like they would on a device running stock Android such as Nexus 4 or Galaxy Nexus, then you can download this theme pack for Nova Launcher.
Once you have downloaded the theme pack, all you have to do is, go to settings of Nova Launcher, click on Look and Feel and select Icon Theme. If you downloaded the theme pack correctly it will show up here, select Jellybean HD.
After this, click on the home button of your Android device and select Nova Launcher and set it as your default launcher. You can change this by going into Apps settings of your device under setting and clearing the default settings of Nova Launcher.
(2) Lock Screen:
Once you are done customizing the basic UI, next up you would want the native Android lock screen. Vanilla Android has a fairly simple lock screen, where you swipe to the right to unlock the device, towards the left to fire up the camera and to the top to launch Google Now. This lock screen can be easily replicated by either Holo Locker or Widget Locker.
Although Widget Locker has plenty of customization and offers plenty of other themes too which can be downloaded from the Play Store, for our purpose to simply use a lock screen like Vanilla Android, we would use Holo Locker Plus. There is also a free version of the app called Holo Locker available in the Play Store.
Once downloaded make sure you run the application once and enable the lock screen. you can also do some customization such as hiding away your status bar when the device is locked or even putting in a custom Carrier name. We found that Holo Locker works really well without any lags or issues of non responsiveness. In the paid version you can also change the lock screen wallpaper or add up some of the most used apps to the lock screen, however, if you do not like to spend money then the basic free version is more than sufficient too.
To go back to your previous lock screen, simply either uninstall Holo Locker or uninstall the application.
After customizing lock screen to native Vanilla Android it is time to change the keyboard. Some of the default keyboards such as the keyboard on Sense 4 can be a little crammed up with spacing that makes typing difficult. The native Android keyboard is definitely one of the very best around.
Recommended App: JellyBean Keyboard
JellyBean keyboard is the keyboard that you must download in order to get the native Android keyboard for your device. It is available for free and once you are done downloading, just activate the keyboard and use it as your preferred input. One of the very best feature of this keyboard is that you can add the number row just above the alphabets row making the typing experience so much simpler. No more do you have to press symbol keys when you want to input numerals.
The keyboard also has a very native Android like feedback with clicks and vibrations, but this can be disabled from settings if you want a quieter typing experience. You can also split the keyboard in the landscape mode for easier typing.
If you have seen anyone use a Vanilla Android device then chances are you must have seen the round clock on their home screen. It is extremely simple to replicate that on your Android device too.
Simply download the JellyBean Clock widget from the play store and add it to the home screen of your Nova Launcher home screen. You may have to grant permission to the launcher to be directly able to add widgets from the widget drawer though. The widget size is 2×2 by default but if you have resizable widgets settings on in Nova Launcher you can customize this size by simply launch pressing the clock when you have added and dragging the borders.
JellyBean Clock widget is the free widget where as Clock JB+ is paid and also gives you the native Android clock application when you click on the widget.
Every Vanilla Android device now comes with Google Chrome out of box as preferred browser. So to get the same experience while browsing various sites on your smart phone, you should download Google Chrome and set it as your default Browser.
Recommended Apps: Google Chrome
Although you could excuse yourself and use a third party browser such as Opera Mini or even Dolphin because Chrome does have tendency to crash and jump frames occasionally. If you are feeling adventurous and would like to test out the newest builds then you can download Chrome beta too from some of the development sites. However, the ability to sync your Chrome browser from desktop to your smartphone makes Chrome a really terrific browser.
Most of the OEM’s get their Mailing clients pretty much on the spot. For example if you are on an HTC device the default mailing client is really good and same with the likes of Samsung and Motorola. However, if your personal account is a Gmail one and that is pretty much all you want, then switching over to official Gmail account for your device is as close to native mailing experience as you can get.
Recommended Apps: Gmail
Gmail is by far and away the best mailing client currently for Android, but in case you want to use some other service or an exchange account then you might have to stick to the default mailbox and configure it and use Gmail app for your Google ID.
(7) Music Player:
We listen to loads of music on our smart phones. And even though there are some fantastic third party music apps out there such as MX Player or even VLC Beta, but if you want a true Google experience on your device then you can go ahead and download Google Play Music App.
Recommended Apps: Google Play Music
Depending upon your location you would be able to directly stream your music saved on Google Music with the help of this application. If Google Music is not available in your country you can still use this application offline as your default music player. The feature that really makes the app stand out from some of the other native players is the recently added music tab, so you can simply listen to the latest music which you might have downloaded or transferred to your device.
Google Music app also comes with a neat widget which if you place on your desktop would give a more Vanilla Android feel to your device.
The native Google Camera is one of the simplest yet effective camera interfaces out there. It is neat, clean and gets the job done without any fuss. Even though some of the Camera interfaces on higher end devices have lot of customization options, you could not be blamed for wanting the simple Google camera for its simplicity.
The Camera JB+ app is a paid application where as camera ICS gives you a peek into the default Camera interface of Google for free. Camera JB+ does offer all the customizations such as applying of filters as well as other burst mode shooting etc. Camera ICS is ad based, so you will see a small strip of Google Ads on top while taking pictures which at times can make the app freeze or provide a shutter delay which could degrade the picture you want to take.
Both the apps though work well, we are inclined to believe that paying for the Camera JB+ app is worth it for the extra customization and no ads. The picture quality too we found was better on the Camera JB+ application.
(9) Photo Gallery:
Once you are done clicking the pictures, it is time to go through them. It is time to get a native Google Photo Gallery for your Android Phone.
Recommended Apps: Gallery ICS, Gallery JB
Gallery ICS is the available for free and gives you the perfect look at the photo gallery of stock Android. The application works well without any lags and gives you basic options such as grouping your pictures by either location, time, people tagged or simply the tags used. There are no ads in the application and as a result there is no stuttering the performance. You can also simply click on the play button on the top right corner of the application to see the pictures in a beautiful slideshow.
Galley JB comes free if you decide to invest in the Camera JB+ application. Perhaps another reason to buy the application. However, the two galleries i.e. Gallery ICS and Gallery JB look pretty similar and unless you want to get into most intricate details they give the same look and feel as default gallery on native Android.
(10) Android Wallpapers:
No Android device is quite customized enough until you have found that perfect wallpaper for it. So after setting up most of the things, if you would like to get the official JellyBean Wallpapers for your device and give it a stock Android look, then here is our pick of the apps for that:
Recommended Apps: Jelly Bean Wallpapers
Once you install the application, all you need to do is long press the home screen of your device and select the wallpaper of your choice from the menu of JellyBean wallpapers. It is as simple as that.
So there you have it, ten simple apps and most of them free to give your Android device a stock appearance without having to root or play with any system files of your device. Do note that some of these apps may be supported based on the OS running on your device so make sure to check the compatibility before downloading them.
For any suggestions or queries feel free to write back to us by commenting below.