The Android operating system has a whopping 75% of the market share which basically means a whole lot of devices use the same OS. Hence, each manufacturer tries to differentiate themselves in terms of software design. You have various manufactures skins like MIUI by Xiaomi, EMUI by Honor and Huawei, XOS by Infinix and many others from smaller manufacturers.
While a lot of people love the manufacturer skins as they get a lot of useful features and apps they do lose out on a few things like the app drawer, uniform app icons, and uniform design language. Unless the manufacturer actually spends time really designing the skin mostly they look terrible with a hotch-potch of different design languages and colours that often deviate from Google’s material design guidelines.
For example, the EMUI skins have black coloured notification shade but a white settings page on oreo, while stock Android uses white everywhere, and then there are the icons that frankly look too skeuomorphic and odd. This design thing gets worst on the XOS powered Infinix Phones where the icons and colours and design used have no logic and just seems to have been put together a day before the manufacturing began.
We know many people will share the same opinion as us about custom skins and will want to know how to make their MIUI/ EMUI/ XOS or any custom skin phone look more like stock android. So, we have come up with a nice and easy tutorial to do this.
EMUI, MIUI and XOS in their out of box form
The image above shows us how EMUI, MIUI and XOS look in their stock forms. While the image below shows how Google’s Pixel 2 looks like.
But before you start theming your phone, you have to understand a few things about a theme or a skin. A skin has the following 5 screens which have a theme applied:
- A home screen where all/most of our apps and widgets are placed
- The app drawer is where all app reside (Not found in MIUI)
- Notification Shade is the screen you pull down from the top where you get shortcuts to settings and your notifications
- Lock screen which is displayed when you push your power button
- Multitasking screen which shows the different running apps in the background
These are the Five main screens that can be customized by the manufacturer, everything else is basically an app that you can replace if you don’t like the theme. For example, you can download Google’s own Calculator, Dialer, Notes, Office apps etc. if you don’t want the apps provided by your manufacturer.
To skin your phone to look like Stock Android there are two methods, the shorter method but less effective one or the longer method that will give you better control over the look of the phone.
Method 1: The easy way
This method is simple as it makes use of the theme app that comes with your phone. So you start by doing the following:
- Open the Themes app on your phone. It is called as Themes in MIUI & EMUI, while XOS calls it the XTheme app.
- Create an account in the app to access it
- Once you login you will be able to see different content like themes, wallpapers, ringtones etc.
- From here you can pick any theme that makes your phone look like stock android or you can search for the following themes we have found for you.
- MIUI: PureAndroidP by rizalnoerman, AndroidL by xeymoire, AndroidL by chayan mistry
- XOS: Google Style theme
- EMUI: For Honor phones, there was no stock android theme in the themes app, but you can download third party themes app like Themes Manager or EMUI Themes Factory. There you can find many themes like SimplyN, Android Light P etc.
- You have to download and apply the themes to see the phone’s design change.
The themes of Honor and MIUI will change all/some of the 5 screens i.e. Homescreen, Lockscreen, Settings, Notification/ Shortcut, Multitasking, and App Drawer. While theming on XOS is limited to the icons and home screen and nothing else changes.
EMUI, MIUI and XOS after theming using their heme apps from Topcut
EMUI and MIUI notification shade after theming
EMUI and MIUI settings app after theming
Using their default theme app we can see that MIUI and EMUI offer pretty convincing design to stock android but there are still a few rough edges. They even go as far as theming the notification shade, settings app etc. XOS, however, doesn’t theme the notification shade or settings app, and the stock theme is a little rough around the edges.
- MIUI doesn’t have an app drawer so you will next to follow out a longer method to gain that functionality.
- EMUI doesn’t skin the multitasking screen and makes use of the stock Android design by default.
Method 2: the long way to success
While the above mentioned theming works well in MIUI and EMUI, what if you want the mimic even the app drawer of stock android and the whole home screen design which a theme can’t provide. For that, you need to do the following.
- Start by downloading a custom launcher app like Nova Launcher, Action Launcher You can even download the Pixel Launcher or Google Now Launcher but they are mostly designed to be used with Pixel phones only and don’t come with the same features as Nova or Action Launcher.
- The launcher app allows you to bypass the home screen of MIUI/XOS/EMUI and create your own. Its sorta like a blank canvas to portray your creativity.
- Once you install the launcher you will see that now you have access to an app drawer also (for MIUI users especially)
- If you enter the launcher settings, there you will find icons, dock, app drawer settings where you can manually select the colour, icon size, icon design etc. You can play around with these settings to customise the look as you please.
- The launcher on its own will give you the pixel 2 look for the home screen and app drawer, but you still need to work on the icons and colour.
- For mimicking the Pixel 2 icons here are a few icon packs you can try from the Google Play store, one really good icon pack is Pixel Icon Pack which is a free app. Now the great thing about this technique of downloading separate launcher and icon pack is you can even customize individual app icons by clicking and holding the app and clicking the edit button and selecting the icon you want.
- The launchers give you a lot of control over your theme so you can even try to vary certain elements like the dock separator style, swipe animations, app drawer and folder background transparency etc.
- While this method is slower you can a better control of the design and you have endless customizability options that are limited only by your creativity.
After applying the launcher and icon pack you can further use the following apps to even mimic other little details of the Pixel 2 as follows:
- Want the Pixel 2’s rounded corners? Of course, you can get them via an app called Cornerfly
- Want the shaded navigation bar of the Pixel 2? Download the Pixel Nav bar app
- Want to get the same wallpapers as the Pixel phones? Download Google’s own Wallpapers For cool wallpapers try Walpy wallpapers
- Want to try a more monochrome and small icon pack? Give Min- icon pack a try
So finally with all the settings in place, you can make your MIUI/ XOS/ EMUI device look as shown below. They all look cool, don’t they? You have no idea which phone is EMUI or XOS.
A few home screens used by Topcut’s researcher
If you want to jump over to the dark side completely and want to use Google only apps click the links below to go and download the most popular Google apps
- Google Contacts
- Google Message
- Google Clock
- Google Keep
- Google Calendar
- Google Calculator
- Google Docs
- Google Slides
- Google Sheets
- Google Email Client
- Snapseed Photo Editor
Before you get started on trying this on your own phone do note the apps and themes we have suggested are not all free, while they are free to download you need to pay to use additional features. If you do need a quick way of earning money to buy apps do give Google Opinion Rewards a try, which pays you in Play Store credit for answering short surveys.
The apps suggested above also don’t need any special root privileges and can be used on pretty much any phone. So do try out the apps and themes and let us know if you liked them. Also, share your home screen creations with us along with any unique apps or launcher or icon packs you found.
The apps and ideas for this article were contributed by Topcut.in, a website that believes in thorough researching and extensive testing before suggesting products. So if you liked this article and want to try them out on a new phone, look for the best smartphones picks by Topcut here.