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Hands on: OblyTile adds life to your Windows Modern UI

For the first time in decades, the Windows 8 Modern UI has revolutionized the way we view applications and content on a Windows computer. That said, it certainly has some missing elements. While we’re already well-aware of the rather serious lack of a Start menu, another issue with the Modern UI is its unfortunate lack of user control for the design of tiles.

Out of the box, Windows 8 doesn’t let you do much with tiles. Users can basically associate programs and apps with tiles, and can have Live Tiles from apps downloaded from the Windows Store; and that’s about it. There are some apps, such as Custom Tile Maker, that let you create tiles with your picture of choice. However, these apps don’t actually associate programs and icons with the same versatility as desktop icons, nor do they let you use the updated, prettier icons in lieu of standard icons as shortcuts for the Modern UI. If you’re looking for diversity and control for your tiles, and are disappointed with the way regular app icons look in the Modern UI, it’s time to give OblyTile a try.

OblyTile lets users create more complex tiles ranging from applications to folders, and even to Internet shortcuts. As you can see from our Windows 8 Start screen shown above, there are lovely icons for Photoshop, InDesign, Steam, and other essential applications. Normally, when you add an application to the Start screen, it automatically shows up as a tacky, and rather ugly, simple icon with a background color picked during your Windows 8 setup. However, with OblyTile, you interactively make icons and tiles for your favorite programs, folders, or even links to websites – something that’s impossible to do with the current Modern UI system.

Without OblyTile, the only tiles you can make are those associated with applications, or “dumb” tiles that are simply pictures. With OblyTile, you can customize each tile with an icon of your choosing, include your own custom background color. You can even add arguments to the shortcut just like you would with the Windows desktop. With these arguments, you can customize each icon to the precise function you need it for and essentially launch any file with just the touch of a button.

The app’s latest version now includes an option to preview your icons before saving them, as well as a tile manager that lets you save your tiles and edit them as you wish. You can also choose to show or hide the text of your new icon, which allows you to precisely adjust the style of your icons. If you’re looking for some great icons to use on your Windows 8 Modern UI, we highly suggest downloading Windows 8 Dock Icons on Deviantart by dAKirby309.

OblyTile is essential to getting the complete Windows 8 experience you deserve. With this nifty app, you can add a variety of useful icons to your Start screen without having to give up style or quality. Best of all, it’s free, but you can always make a donation to the hardworking developer. Happy customizing, folks!

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