April Fool's Day!

Yeah, it's coming. That holiday we love to hate and hate to love, full of pie-in-the-sky pitches, deep, deep teasing of eventual products, and things that we desperately, desperately wish were real.

It's almost April Fool's Day, and what was once a purely homemade day full of pranking friends and family and avoiding revenge has now been commercialized, not only by marketers looking to sell something, but by major corporations of all kinds putting out their own April Fool's goofs in a bid to have some fun with consumers while reminding consumers of what they can buy from them.

This year, though, I implore you to put the fake barf and whoopie cushions away. We have better ways of pranking our friends with our handy-dandy Android phones!

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Note: The following tricks can be performed on your own phone or any Android phone easily, but please back up your launcher before you do anything, and exercise extreme caution if you decide to set one of these tricks upon a friend's phone. Messing with someone else's phone might cross the line with them, so be careful and always be willing and able to put back whatever you change.

Fake iPhone trick

Apples can be deceptive

Wanna have some fun with your friends? If you're known for having the latest and greatest — or if your friends aren't particular up-to-date on the latest technological trends — you can use Android's wonderful customization prowess to make your phone look like a phone that's less customization-oriented: an iPhone. If you want to put your illusion over the top, consider using a case over your phone that covers any manufacturer branding.

Make your phone look like an iPhone

Fake Windows Phone trick

What can Redmond do for you?

Windows 10 Mobile isn't exactly a thriving market, but if you have some Microsoft fans in your life, you can get their hopes up for a moment by employing a Windows Mobile-style theme on your Android trojan horse. Once you (gently) dash their hopes, you can also direct them to our Microsoft theming guide to show them that while they'd be abandoning Windows as their mobile OS, they can still get a Redmond experience on their Android phone.

Give your phone a Microsoft makeover

Invisible home screen trick

It looks empty. It's not.

There are some amazing tricks your home screen can pull off, but none are quite as fun to see in person as an invisible home screen. Now, imagine this: you see someone on the subway. They have a frozen image up on their screen, but no icons, no app drawer, no widgets. But they keep fiddling with that wallpaper as if it was a working phone. You'd think they're crazy. Right up until they swipe at the nothingness… and an app opens! Mind blown!!

This is also a handy home screen theme if your phone is prone to being "played with" by coworkers and kiddos. Here's what it consists of:

  • Use a customization-oriented launcher like Nova Launcher.
  • Disable the page indicator under Nova Settings > Desktop > Page Indicator > None.
  • Disable wallpaper scrolling under Nova Settings > Desktop > Scroll > Wallpaper scrolling > Off.
  • Disable app icon labels under Nova Settings > Desktop > Icon Layout > Label > Off.
  • Disable an dock overlay (if you used one) under Nova Settings > Dock > Dock Background > Off (toggle in top right corner).
  • Remove any widgets you had on your home screen.

Now comes the tedious part. There's a couple of icon packs that claim to blank your app icons, but none of them are really any easier than replacing them yourself. Download this blank png to your device, then replace each and every icon on your dock and home screen using the following steps:

  1. Long-press your icon until a Nova menu appears.
  2. Tap Edit. (Note: if this is an app that supports dynamic shortcuts, you'll need to tap Icon Options before tapping Edit.
  3. Tap the icon to edit it.
  4. Tap Gallery apps.
  5. Tap Documents.
  6. Navigate to your blank png.
  7. Tap Done to set the icon.
  8. Tap Done to confirm your changes.

Once you've set all of your app icons to blank, your home screen should be beautifully blank. So, how do you know what apps are on your home screen? Well, that comes down to memorization. What if you still want to do something with your home screen? May I suggest using the invisible home screen element: gesture controls? Many launchers like Nova and Action Launcher have a litany of gestures you can assign specific apps or tasks to.

Once you're done tweaking your invisible home screen, I highly recommend locking your home screen. In Nova, you'll find it under Nova Settings > Desktop > Advanced > Lock desktop. This'll help you avoid accidentally moving an app while it's invisible, and it'll help prevent pranksters from catching on and changing it back on you.

The invisible home screen is great on its own, and it can help take our next trick to new levels.

Broken screen trick

It's broken! Oh noes! Whatever will we do?!

There are dozen of apps dotting the Google Play Store that claim to trick your friends into thinking the screen is broken using either a live wallpaper or a screen overlay, complete with cheap sound effects and eye-rolling shattering effects. I'd love to recommend one to you, but they're all old, they all suck, and I'm not sure I trust the permissions most of them want. If you're dead-set on a broken screen gag, don't go with cracked glass, that's a cheap jumpscare that's easy to see through. Instead, use an image replicating a broken digitizer, as you can definitely break the digitizer while still having an intact screen.

Again, this isn't an illusion that lasts long, so make the most of it before they realize the device is intact. Then quickly retrieve your device before the person you pranked decides to make your gag a reality.

Have a safe and hilarious April Fool's Day!