It has been two years since Google introduced Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich, and yet the UI/UX is unmatched by any other OEM skin. OEMs like Samsung and LG keep adding plethora of features on their devices, without working on improving the UI. If you are lusting after the stock Android look, but don’t want to flash a ROM or root your device, fear not!
By using just a few applications, which don’t even require root access, you can easily get the stock Android look on your device. This way you can enjoy the near stock Android look on your Android device, while still enjoying all the features that is included by your OEM.
Getting the stock Android launcher on any Android 4.0+ device is pretty easy. You can install the Jelly Bean launcher from Team Syndicate, which replicates the stock Android launcher. After installing the Jelly Bean launcher, make sure to tap the Home button, and select the Jelly Bean launcher as the default one.
However, if you are looking for a powerful launcher with more features, download Nova or Apex launcher. Both the launchers look like the stock Android launcher, but packs in a plethora of features including icon pack and gesture support.
Using Holo Locker, you can get the stock Android lock screen on your Android device. The app makes up for the lack of a lock screen widget by allowing for unread notifications and custom shortcuts right on the lock screen.
If you are looking for a widget based lock screen, give WidgetLocker a try. The app allows you to use any widget on your lock screen, and can be used to replicate the stock Android lock screen by using the in built themes. Make sure to disable the stock lock screen of your Android device, before you start using any of the above apps.
The stock Messaging app in Android is pretty lacklustre in terms of features, but looks very simple and elegant. You can install Android 4.1 JB Messaging SMS app from Tim Hutt, and make it the default messaging app to completely replace the OEM messaging app your device shipped with.
However, Android 4.1 JB Messaging SMS app has a few issues, especially in regards to SMS notifications and the complete failure to send or receive MMS. For a more powerful and feature-rich messaging app, have a look at 88sms from ThinkLeft. The application is based on the CyanogenMod’s Messaging app, which includes a lot of handy features such as quick reply, notification pop-ups, emoji support, a dark theme and more.
The camera application provided by OEMs is generally top-notch, but if you find it a bit too overwhelming, you can try the stock Android camera application. The stock camera app in Android is pretty basic, and only has a handful of minor settings to play around it. It is perfect for those people who just want to be click happy, without the need to bother about changing the settings.
While the stock camera app of Android is not available on the Play Store, the APK can be downloaded and manually installed from this thread on XDA forums. The APK will work on all Android devices running Android 4.1 or higher, and includes Photosphere as well.
All Android OEMs ship their own custom keyboard, instead of simply bundling the stock Google keyboard. Earlier installing the Google keyboard on a non-Nexus device required flashing a zip file in the recovery. However, earlier this year, Google released the stock Google keyboard on the Play Store, making it very easy for any Android device owner to install it.
With Google de-coupling all major apps from the main Android OS, and releasing it on the Play Store, getting the stock Android look on any Android device is pretty easy. However, these changes are not skin-deep and only limited to the certain, but most frequently used, parts of the phone. Without root access, it is not possible to make the changes skin-deep, which includes changing the look of the notification bar, dialer and the Settings menu as well.