Android is often praised for its vast customization options in terms of visuals and functionality. To the point where not even the app icons themselves are safe—there are tons of app icon packs for Android out there to completely change how every icon looks on your home screen. But how do these packs work in the first place?
Update, 5/13/22: Verified all products and links are up to date.
Icon packs are pretty much what you would expect after reading the name—they’re packs of alternative icons for the apps on your phone. It’s important to note these generally aren’t made by app developers or manufacturers, but rather a third party who will provide thousands of icons for different apps in a single pack. Some provide new styles, while others stay true to the original icons and just make slight adjustments in design or shape.
While enabling these icons isn’t supported by Android’s stock launcher on most phones, they’re incredibly easy to download. You’ll find loads of different packs on the Google Play Store that are as simple to install as any other app. This makes it easy to browse the various packs available and find the one that appeals to you—after all, this is entirely down to personal taste.
You’re going to need to take different steps depending on your phone, as different Android launchers may or may not support icon packs in some capacity. For example, if you’re using a Samsung phone, you can install certain icon packs found in the “Themes” menu, and the Oxygen launcher found on OnePlus phones should be compatible with most icon packs. In fact, that’s something important to note—some icon packs may not work with all Android launchers, even if the launchers themselves support custom icon packs.
If you’re using a Google Pixel phone, or any phone with a mostly stock version of Android, icon packs won’t work out of the box. However, one of the great things about Android devices is it’s simple to install alternative launchers from the Play Store. There are loads of launchers out there and many of them support custom icons, along with other useful features like added home screen customization and deeper app drawer settings.
If you just want a simple launcher that stays true to stock Android but will enable you to use icon packs, we recommend either Nova Launcher or Apex Launcher. Both of these are widely supported by icon pack creators and are great launchers all around. Nova Launcher keeps things extremely close to stock Android, while Apex Launcher makes some more tweaks for a cleaner overall style. Using icon packs in either of these launchers is as simple as installing the packs and then selecting them in the launcher’s settings app.
Now that you know what these packs are and how to use them, we would be remiss not to give you a few recommendations for packs to start with. While the icon pack you use will be down to your own personal taste, we picked a variety of high-quality packs, each with its own style.
- Flight: If you want something simple and minimalist, Flight is the pack for you. The bold white lines keep a consistent style between all the icons and simplify the look of your home screen. There’s also the “Dark” version of the pack that switches out the white for black on all icons.
- Crayon: Stepping back into the world of color, the Crayon pack features cute and colorful icons. With soft edges and pastel colors, the designs all fit together well and the set of wallpapers included with the pack only further that.
- Aura: If you prefer a consistent style, Aura’s got you covered. During the design process, this pack was limited to a specific color palette to make sure all the icons felt cohesive. That doesn’t mean all the icons will bleed together though, this pack has plenty of tricks up its sleeve to ensure each icon is unique in some way.
- PixBit: Reminicist of old (and new) school video games, PixBit features pixelated versions of the icons you’re already used to. If you’re into pixel art, you’ll certainly love this icon pack and the creative ways it tackles various icons with the limited art style.
- Verticons: While the packs listed so far have been major departures from the original icons, Verticons tones things down a bit. All this pack does is take the standard app icons and shape them into vertical rectangles. It looks good, gives your home screen a unique look, and you won’t have to relearn any icons.
- Rondo: To finish off this list, we’re going with a rather straightforward pack. Rondo takes every icon and turns them into simple colored circles with a logo and subtle shadow effect. It’s about as to the point as an icon pack can be, but it does look nice and it’s great if you’re a fan of flashier icon packs.
If you’re into customizing the visuals of your phone, an icon pack is just one more step you can take to make your phone feel unique. Whether you’re after monochromatic consistency or colorful chaos, there’s sure to be a pack out there for you—even if it didn’t get mentioned in this article. And considering most icon packs are free (or at the very least, have free versions), there’s little risk to trying out all the ones you can get your hands on.