Ever since the Samsung Galaxy S 4 and HTC One Google Play Edition devices launched, they’ve been all the rage. If you like the stock look, there’s a lot that you can do to make your own phone look like it’s a Google Play Edition device, even without rooting. Even better, everything in this guide includes only free apps. Jump through the break to see the best apps to download for a stock like experience.
1. Change your home screen.
There are a lot of cool options for launchers, but Nova Launcher is probably your best bet for this purpose (Play Store Download Link). Simply using the default settings of Nova immediately makes your phone look a great deal like stock.
2. Customize your “look.”
You’re also going to want to change your icons. Holo Icons is filled with stock icons, and looks great with Nova (Play Store Download Link).
You can even download stock wallpapers for an even more Play Edition experience. The Play Edition devices come with a new SunBeam live wallpaper, which you can download for your device for free (Play Store Download Link). If you’d rather have the other, non-live wallpapers that come with Jelly Bean, you can also get those in the Play Store (Play Store Download Link).
The lock screen is the part of your device that you see the most often. Just like launchers, there are many options for alternate lock screens as well. For the purpose of making your device look like a stock device, Holo Locker is your best option (Play Store Download Link). It has many customization options, it’s stable, and it looks cool.
4. Install Google apps.
Stock Android devices come with only Google created apps. That includes the stock keyboard, which Google released on the Play Store a few months ago. Also make sure you have Gmail, Maps, Chrome, Calendar, and any other Google apps you desire. You can find them all in the Play Store through this link.
You’ll probably notice that there are some stock apps that are on stock devices, but that Google hasn’t released to the Play Store. You’re not going to be able to find all of them, but some, like the Camera app, complete with the awesome Photo Sphere feature (Download Link) and the Dialer (Download Link) have been leaked for you to enjoy.
5. Make all of these apps default, and disable bloatware.
While setting up these apps, some will prompt you to make it the default app, but others will not. Make sure you make all of them default, so they will open automatically whenever you want to use them. You can do that using a very useful app called Default App Manager (Download Link).
If your device isn’t stock, it comes with a lot of your carrier and manufacturer’s bloatware. Without rooting, it’s hard to get rid of it all, but if you go into Settings / Apps, you can individually tap on the bloat apps and manually disable them. For more information, check out our guide on disabling bloatware. Also, if you’re using Nova Launcher, you can upgrade to the premium version and make them disappear from your app drawer and have them out of sight.
So the next time your whip out your phone, your friends will be envious of your new “Google Play Edition” phone, but you will know better. Sure it it isn’t the real deal and you won’t get updates as fast, but you can still enjoy some of the special manufacturer add-ons not found in the GPE phones. You really get the best of both worlds this way – the pure Google experience, while still enjoying your manufacturer’s bonus features.