Conquering Android's World of Themes
By DAVID SEGAL November 6, 2013
A few weeks ago, I ditched my iPhone 4S for an HTC One, and now I think the difference between the world's most popular smartphone operating systems - Apple's iOS and Google's Android - can be explained with a metaphor about home decorating.
The iPhone is a mansion designed by experts with superb taste. It's beautifully laid out, and all the rooms, wiring and plumbing work together seamlessly. But once you move in, you can make only the tiniest of alterations.
The designers of Android, and companies like HTC, which modify that operating system in different ways, don't have the same skills. But you can trash just about every aesthetic choice they've made and renovate to your heart's content.
Big fan of "Breaking Bad"? Trick out your Android phone with "Breaking Bad" imagery, with icons from the periodic table, as featured in the opening of the TV show. Love Scrabble? Your phone can look just like a Scrabble board. An Android phone is endlessly customizable, down to the last pixel.
The problem is that creating the most striking and novel Android looks is a baffling chore, one that requires mastery of software that seems lifted from that Russian space capsule in "Gravity." Take a look at the many how-to tutorials on YouTube, where Android theme designers - or themers, as they are known - offer step-by-step instructions so you can replicate their handiwork. It's so confusing that it's hard to get to the part that's confusing.