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Create your own Android app icon pack

Build your own custom app icon pack, using Eclipse and the ADT plug-in

When it comes to customising your Android device’s look and feel, launchers like Apex and Nova are a quick and easy option. You can even replace the default app icons with new graphics, by using your launcher alongside additional app icon packs. When you select a new app icon, this graphic represents the app in both the app drawer, and on the homescreen.

While there’s no shortage of icon packs already available, if you want to truly customise your device, then why not create your own? You can create icon packs entirely from your own graphics, or you can modify the default icons. You could even find icon packs designed by other developers, and then use these graphics as the starting point for your own pack – however, if you’re planning on distributing your work, make sure you have the original developer’s permission to do so!

This tutorial shows you how to create your own app icon pack, which can be used with Nova Launcher. You’ll need Nova Launcher installed on your device, and on your computer you’ll need to have the Android SDK, plus the Eclipse IDE with the ADT plug-in, which you can download this trio of software in one handy bundle. Finally, you’ll need the set of graphics you want to use in your pack.

For more tutorials like this, make sure to pick up the latest issue of Android Magazine. 

  1. Get Sample Pack

    Even though you’re designing icons to use with Nova, download the Apex Icon Pack Sample from the XDA Forums. Unzip the pack and launch Eclipse. Open Eclipse’s File menu and select Import. Double-click the Android folder, select Existing Android Code and click Next.

  2. Import Sample Pack

    Click the Browse button and navigate to your unzipped sample pack. Select the folder and click Open. Ensure the ‘Copy projects into workspace’ checkbox is selected, then click Finish. The ApexIcon package will appear in Eclipse’s Package Explorer. The next step is renaming your project’s application package.

  3. Rename app packaging

    Control-click your project in Package Explorer, then select Android Tools and Rename Application Package. Rename your project and click OK. When Eclipse prompts you to rename other parts of your project, click OK. Open /res/values/strings.xml and change the information in this file to better reflect your project.

  4. Add your icons

    The res folder contains multiple drawable folders, corresponding to different dpi resolutions (dots per inch). You only need to drop your icon images onto one folder, but their dpi must be appropriate for that folder. Click hereFor information on each folder’s dpi.

  5. Download ApplicationReader

    For the next step, you’ll need to know the ComponentInfo for each app you’re creating a custom icon for. One way is to download ApplicationReader to your device (free from the Play store). Use ApplicationReader to scan all the apps on your device and make a note of their Component Info.

  6. Add Component Info

    Open /res/xml/appfilter.xml and /res/values/iconpack.xml. You’ll need to add all your icons to both files, using the image’s filename and the app’s Component Info, for example <item component=”ComponentInfo{com.facebook.katana/com.facebook.katana.LoginActivity}” drawable=”facebook” />.

  7. Test your app

    It’s time to test your app on your device. Attach your device to your computer using the USB cable. Control-click your project in the Package Explorer and select Run As followed by Android application. After a few seconds, you’ll see a message confirming that your APK has been successfully installed.

  8. Applying your icons

    Ensure Nova is your default launcher. Then, launch Nova Settings and select Look and feel, followed by Icon Theme. Select your icon pack from the pop-up. In the next step, you’ll learn how to share your icon pack with others, by exporting it from Eclipse as an Android app.

  9. Create Keystore

    Open Eclipse’s File menu and select Export. Double-click the Android folder and select Export Android Application. Click Next. Select your project and click Next. Choose Create New Keystore and choose the location where you want to create your keystore. Create a password and click Next.

  10. Export Android application

    Complete the form, and specify that your keystore should be valid for at least 25 years. Click Next, and tell Eclipse where it should create your .APK file. Finally, click Finish and Eclipse will export your project as an Android application, ready for you to distribute.