Handheld Devices

Tweak your HTC One for a more pure Android experience

Your HTC One may rank among the best Android phones ever, but that doesn't mean there's no room for improvement. In particular, you may find yourself hating HTC's various software "enhancements" and longing for a more pure Android environment. Although you can find a Google Play edition of the HTC One that comes bearing Google's stock Android with no modifications, that model doesn't work on all carriers, and sometimes it isn't worthwhile to break your contract just for a slightly better handset.

If you want your phone to look and behave like a stock Android phone, you can download several apps capable of dramatically altering the look and feel of your phone and getting it looking just the way you want it. The best part? None of these apps require a rooted phone in order to work.

Let's get Sense-less

To ditch HTC's custom Sense overlay and embrace Android's Holo UI, you need to search the Play Store for the following apps: Nova Launcher, Google Calendar, Google Keyboard, and WidgetLocker Lockscreen. All of these apps are free, save for WidgetLocker, which will set you back a modest $3.

If you hate BlinkFeed, or if you just wish you had more control over your home screen, Nova Launcher will feel like a godsend. The app lets you customize your home screen and app drawer--you can do everything from installing entire themes to merely tweaking your phone's font sizes. You can even choose the type of animation that occurs when you swipe from one home screen to another.

Once the app has finished downloading, pressing the home button will bring up a prompt to select a launcher. Choose Nova Launcher from the pop-up list, and your home screen will transform into something similar to what you can find on Google's Nexus line.

The built-in HTC keyboard may be fine for some users, but quite a few people prefer Google Keyboard for its word predictions and Swype-like capabilities. To set up Google Keyboard as your default input method, launch the Google Keyboard app and follow the on-screen prompts.

If you think the keyboard is too cramped, or if you want to go back to the HTC keyboard, you can do so by going to the Settings and disabling Google Keyboard from the 'Language and Keyboard' menu.

WidgetLocker Lockscreen is another app that you'll need to set up before you can use it. Simply launch the app and continue through the tutorial until you reach the lock-screen customization page, which resembles the stock Android lock screen. The WidgetLocker lock screen includes a slider that lets you mute your phone by swiping it, but you can easily remove it if you're set on getting that pure Android look and feel.

Google Calendar is the same basic calendar app that you can find on Nexus Android phones, and it doesn't offer anything special over the built-in HTC calendar app. Still, it's available if you need more Holo in your life.

What you can't match

Although your HTC One now resembles the version Google sells, you're still at the mercy of your carrier when it comes to receiving system updates. If a new version of Android is released for the Google Play edition of the HTC One, it could be weeks (or more likely, months) before your phone receives the same features and bug fixes. While that delay leaves you vulnerable to bugs or security holes, it's the compromise you make when you buy a subsidized phone from a carrier.

But it's not all bad news: Your HTC One benefits from HTC's custom camera and imaging software, which allow it to take better-looking photos than you'd get from the stock Android camera software. Sure you're missing out on the ability to capture 360-degree panoramic Photo Spheres, but you can use the Zoe camera to create animated GIFs--arguably a much more useful feature.

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