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You know what Windows Phone needs? Themes. This is one feature that I think could make the mobile platform from Microsoft really stand out. Give it a real sense of flair, if nothing else. They could be third-party themes, from developers who want to create some really interesting spins on those Live Tiles and Hubs. Or, something that I think Microsoft could really take advantage of, themes from first-party devs from inside friendly studios that make things for Microsoft-only titles. Like a Halo theme, or Alan Wake, or Gears of War. These themes would be awesome, I think.

But this is something that I think Windows Phone needs, and no other platform.

Themes exist, though. They aren't simply designated Android-specific, either. If you've jailbroken your iOS-based device, like an iPod Touch or an iPhone, then you know that themes exist for that particular mobile OS as well. I've used a lot of themes over the years, and for a little while there, right after the unveiling of Sense 3.0 from HTC, I really fell in love with them. Just one more way to make your phone that much different from everyone else's.

But I got tired of jailbreaking my iOS-based devices. While the themes were great, and they made iOS look different from its "tried-and-true" experience delivered out of the box from Apple, they just never grasped my attention for all that long. An all-black theme with neon highlights is only great for so long.

When I dug into the Android ecosystem, and found that changing theme-based elements within the proprietary user experiences from HTC and Samsung were gaining ground, it was something I got into. The inter-changeable themes within Sense 3.0, for example, were pretty unique, and you could download more from HTC's online repository. I'm not sure if there were ever third-party themes, but the ones that HTC promoted were interesting enough to keep my attention focused there.

Samsung's themes aren't as changeable as HTC's, but you are able to change a few things. For example, you can change the font throughout the OS. Additionally, you can change the way the text message interface looks, on a device like the Galaxy S III. I'd actually go as far as to say that Samsung doesn't use themes, so we can probably leave it at that.

LG's Lucid has themes, and they range from cartoony to mute black, with bright icon images. (As a side note, I found them by accident. And after I switched to a new theme, the "Theme" option disappeared. So now I can't switch back. Which is odd.) And while switching themes was a great way to change up the way the phone looked quickly and easily, it wasn't something that I thought about really wanting on my phone.

Close to a theme, is Sprint's ID Packs. Introduced a long while back, they're a way for you to spruce up a single individual Android homescreen, and make it unique to its target. There are ID Packs for things like ESPN, Disney, and Sprint. There are plenty more, and they turn a specific homescreen into a window, more or less, into that specific category or interest. It's a cool idea, and it's one that Sprint is continuing to promote (more or less) and maintain.

This eventually lead me to wonder how Windows Phone themes could be unique, and I think it has everything to do with the Live Tiles and Hubs. They could make them unique. Using a character to point to new text messages. Or a ship air dropping mail. These types of things that could make the standard mobile operating system come to life in a whole new way.

I'm curious to know if you use proprietary themes, Dear Reader. Are you one to switch the way your phone looks, using only the options that the phone's manufacturer has provided? Or do you use themes from third-party developers, after you've jailbroken or rooted your phone? Did you use themes in the past, but have stopped using them? Let me know what you think of themes in general.


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