Some of my favourite WP8.1 customisation apps
Creating a beautiful and functional start screen is surely the holy grail of any Windows Phone user. As a graphic designer and chronic pixel scrutiniser, its essential for me to have control over the way my device looks. I grew frustrated with Android for this reason originally, removing OEM launchers and finding apps with widgets that complimented eachother was a gargantuan task which felt like more work than it was worth. The design language and standards of Windows Phone seems almost like a response to the dull icon laden screens of its competitors, allowing us to create a start screen that can turn heads, win hearts and minds, and, perhaps, usher in world peace (well… maybe not that one).
I frequently post my start screen and often face questions like “how did you do that? what app is that?” etc, so I thought I would create a list and explanation of how you can create beautiful screens with ease and be the envy of your iDevice wielding fellows.
Once 8.1 hit, the feverish and awesome dev community of Windows Phone gave us a slew of impressive apps that further extended the functionality of WP8.1’s transparent tiles, providing the ability to create blank dividers, add transparency to apps that as of yet do not support it, and other similar things. Matthew Miller’s Start Perfect aims to be your one-stop-shop for all things tile customisation.
It allows you to create labels, dividers and replacement icons for various transparency-shy apps and pinned websites, with full control over the colour, transparency and tile animation. If your goal is to create a completely transparent screen, Start Perfect should be amongst your considerations. Don’t like transparency? Start Perfect will also allow you to create a custom fill to replace the stock accent colours currently available with a full RGB colour picker. Start Perfect also allows you to edit a desired background with a colour tint if you would like a background which compliments your accent colour.
Start Perfect is £0.79 and $0.99, featuring a trial mode, highly recommended!
If you’re like me and rely on your calendar for scheduling anything less urgent than visits to the bathroom, then the stock Windows Phone calendar tile just doesn’t cut the mustard. The WP8.1 calendar update bought some welcome changes, but the wide tile still feels like too much screen space is wasted needlessly. Step in Chronos Calendar from Chronosphere.
Allowing for an unprecedented amount of tile customisation, Chronos Calendar has been enjoying a place on my WP since I first discovered it over a year ago. Recently enjoying a much needed update, Chronos Calendar features almost ubiquitous customisation, allowing control over the background of the tile, colour, position and size of the photo in the background, different backgrounds per size of tile, the amount of appointments on display, the size and position of the date, it even allows control over the border spacing and colours, something people with an OCD for tile composition can faun over.
Chronos Calendar is £1.69 and $2.49 respectively, and comes with a trial.
The Reddit integration capabilities of Windows Phone blew me away when I first researched the platform. As an obsessive upvoter, the ability for apps like Readit to customise my phone using SFW subreddits like /r/aww and /r/earthporn is a killer feature of the Windows Phone platform.
Readit allows you to pin subreddits to your screen as active live tiles, meaning they will update every time you open the app to browse Reddit, you can extend this to the lock screen, giving you dynamic and frequently updated lock screen wallpapers from any subreddit (including those naughty anime girl subreddits our editor in chief seemingly likes…)
Readit costs £1.49 and $1.99 and also comes with a trial.
Amazing Weather HD
Amazing Weather HD, is amazing, and features weather, in HD. Often lauded as one of the most beautiful apps for receiving weather updates, Amazing Weather HD also has incredibly powerful tools for customisation within it. It was recently updated with support for transparent tiles, displaying weather icons and information on a translucent backdrop, additionally allowing you to alter the tile to your liking. HD photograph of weather on the reverse tile? transparent upfront? etc. It also allows you to customise your lock screen with your own pictures, layering weather information beautifully on top. If you live in a country with schizophrenic weather such as Britain, this comes in very useful.
Amazing Weather HD costs £1.49 and $1.99 and features a trial.
If you live in a world with consistent weather patterns or you’re generally opposed to the discomfort of leaving the house, then you may not be interested in a lockscreen app that displays the weather. Paper Shuffle is a nifty little app that isn’t very well known, it quite simply allows you to assign and crop a folder of pictures for use on your lock screen. Cleverly, it also allows you to add context hours to the lock screen, so you could have normal pictures by day for when you’re at work, hiding the anime girls until the evening.
Paper Shuffle is £0.79 and $0.99 and includes a free trial.
This app is more of an honourable mention as it doesn’t really provide any new functionality, but it takes advantage of the ability in WP8.1 to add individual notification tones to different apps and provides a library of classic sounds like the MSN notification, official Skype and Facebook sounds, amongst others.
Melodia is £0.79 and $0.99 and at present has no trial, but does what it says on the tin!