7 Android launchers to refresh your home screen

Your home should be comfortable, and so should your home screen. With an Android launcher, you can replace your phone or tablet's boring factory settings with themes, widgets, and other customizable options to make your home screen more homey. Here are our top seven picks to help you renovate your Android experience.

Google Now Launcher

Google Now Launcher is one of the most direct ways of getting the original Android home-screen experience. First introduced with the Moto X phone, the Google Now Launcher preserves the visual experience of KitKat for those with custom-themed versions of Android, and it comes … Read more

Samsung's new Android home screen mock-ups allegedly leak

LAS VEGAS -- Samsung may be crafting a visually rich smartphone interface, according to frequent Twitter tipster @evleaks.

The panel of three screenshots clearly shows a visual take on the Android UI for the smartphone lock screen, and two home screen panes, complete with the iconic Gmail, Google Play, and Samsung Hub icons with a smear-effect background in deep blue and purple hues.

The graphical treatment of the voice search icon, weather, and location (San Francisco's Mission District) are clearly new.

The lock screen, for instance, displays a map route and estimated journey times. The map appears again on … Read more

Tesla's Elon Musk goes 'Iron Man' with in-thin-air, gestural design process

As if a sexy electric car; a sideways-flying, reusable rocket ship; an 800 mph subway; and a Martian metropolis weren't enough, mad scientist Elon Musk now wants to build an "Iron Man" suit.

Well, not exactly.

But the film was apparently the inspiration for Musk's latest foray into science nonfiction. The Tesla Motors and SpaceX CEO tweeted on Friday that he and his people have "figured out how to design rocket parts just w hand movements through the air" and that next week he'll be posting a video that demonstrates the process. … Read more

Gripe and ye shall receive: Google fixes Gmail for Android

Google has come to its senses with its Gmail app for Android.

A June Gmail overhaul dropped the delete button by default from the e-mail software, a move judged to be silly by me and by 88 percent of the CNET readers who responded to our poll.

Plenty of other people didn't give a fig, the button's absence wasn't a showstopper, and it could be restored by changing the settings, but I thought it a departure for a company that today is supposed to be fanatical about crafting a great experience for users.

Well, happily, it's … Read more

Are you an Android user envying iOS 7? There's a skin for that

Android users who want to see if the grass really is greener on the Apple side of the fence now can try out the new color scheme debuting in iOS 7.

A theme called jbOS7 marries the Jelly Bean version of Android with the iOS 7 style. Its creator, shmogt, used some custom icons and TeslaCoil Software's Nova Launcher home screen replacement app.

"It is more than just a background image with some icons," shmogt said by e-mail. "The theme also has a lock screen as well as two additional screens that act as apps. For … Read more

Is the new Gmail app interface dumb, or am I a freak?

I'm a Gmail fanboy. Priority inbox, stars, the archive tool, labels, filters, built-in translation, conversation view, relatively effective spam blocking -- its features have helped me stay one step ahead of the chaos.

But on Friday, when the new Gmail app arrived on my Android phone, I lost some of my faith because of one simple thing: Google deleted the delete button.

In its place was a button that, I eventually figured out after some confused experimentation, toggles messages as read or unread. Deleting a selected e-mail became a two-tap operation: tap the menu button, then tap the delete … Read more

Customize BlinkFeed for HTC One

For the HTC One, HTC designed a news feed widget called BlinkFeed that pulls in top stories from around the Web, as well as social feeds, such as Twitter and Facebook. It's a good-looking piece of software, and for better or worse, HTC makes it your default home screen on the HTC One.

But if you're less than thrilled by BlinkFeed, I'll show you how to better customize the stories that it pulls in, or even remove it from your home screen.

First off, tap the home button to make sure you're at the top of … Read more

Prizefight: HTC One vs. Apple iPhone 5 (video)

The next generation of Android phones is coming, and you can't ignore the HTC One with its beautiful design that makes Apple fanboys drool. So we're taking the two of the best designed phones on the market and throwing them inside the Prizefight ring!

Does the iPhone 5 still have enough in the tank before its next refresh to hold off the hard-charging HTC One?

Or will the next generation of Android phones and HTC's cleaned-up Sense UI reign supreme in 2013?

Which is your Prizefight King of the Ring?

The Top Essential Hotkeys for Windows 8

Whether you're new to Windows 8 or a seasoned veteran, it's always good to have a few tricks up your sleeve. Let's face it: without a touch screen, Windows 8 can get a tad tedious to use. Here are the most essential Windows 8 shortcuts for accessing and working with the Charms menu, and system-wide. You can thank us later.

Useful keys to access Charms in a touchless world

Windows Key + C: Opens Charms Bar Windows Key + I: Access the settings or control panel for active app Windows Key + Q: Search your applications Windows Key + Z: Open … Read more

ModernMix 1.0

Still feeling the Windows 7 blues? Ever wish you could take your apps out of Win8's Modern UI and onto your desktop? ModernMix is a utility that enables Windows 8 Modern-centric apps to run inside a windowed frame, resulting in a more traditional experience like previous versions of Windows. Regardless of your feelings about Microsoft's current direction, ModernMix is an attractive utility made especially for the classically desktop dependent.

When running multiple Modern apps, the applications are not normally running or visible in desktop view. Instead, the charms bar acts as your standard task manager for Modern apps. … Read more