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How to create your own theme for your Sony Xperia phone or tablet

Growing tired of your Xperia smartphone or tablet’s theme? Design and customise your own desktops, menus and icons with Sony’s Theme Creator, free software that you can download for PC and Mac right now.

Just this week, Sony launched a new developer kit that allows anyone to create their own snazzy themes for phones like the Xperia Z2 and Xperia Z3, and tablets such as the Xperia Z3 Tablet Compact. We took the Theme Creator for a test drive and managed to knock up our own gorgeous (ish) overlay for our Xperia devices, and here’s how you can do the same.

Step One: Download Sony’s Theme Creator

All you have to do to bag Sony’s Theme Creator is head over to Sony’s Developer website, specifically the Theme Creator web page. From there you can download the software and install it onto your PC or Mac. It’s completely free although it is still in Beta, so you might experience the odd funny turn when using it.

Step Two: The basics

If all you want to do is mess around with the Xperia desktop and menu colours, then the Sony Theme Creator is pipsqueak to use. Just name your new project and you’ll be presented with a list of components (status bar, navigation bar and so on) which can be tweaked. Click on the dots to the right of each selection and you’ll have the option to play around with the colour, changing it to anything you like using the colour mapping tool.

Of course, you’ll have to consider what colours actually go together, so you don’t end up with a rainbow monstrosity of clashing hues like this:

Step Three: More advanced customisation

If you actually want to change the look of the wallpaper, icons, buttons and so on, you’ll need to get your hands a little dirtier. This kind of customisation requires the use of external software such as Photoshop.

If you browse to your theme’s saved directory, you should see a bunch of PSD files which you can open in Photoshop and tinker with. Sony has given detailed instructions at its Theme Creator help page, and you’ll notice when you open one of the PSDs that the top layer also holds instructions on how to edit the individual icons, wallpapers and so on.

Step Four: Export your new theme as an .APK file

When you’re done being master designer, go to Build in the Theme Creator’s menu bar, then Export Unsigned APK. You’ll be asked where you want to save your theme, and a few seconds later you should hopefully receive a message saying that your theeme was successfully exported.

At this point you can chuck it on your Sony Xperia phone or tablet and enjoy your handiwork, or even publish it to Google Play. Check out Sony’s help page on how to publish your theme and if it’s good enough you can even send it direct to Sony, who might help promote your work.

So far, Sony’s Theme Creator seems like a cool piece of software, although it’s geared towards developers and those with technical savvy. We’d like to see a simpler version for the average consumer to quickly knock up their own themes without having to use Photoshop and other graphical tools (although the scope would obviously be more basic). But if you’re willing to plough through a bit of (well written) help documentation, then you should manage to craft something without too much stress.