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Android 12: In-depth theme system that can recolor apps



With Android 10, Google introduced a dedicated dark mode to reduce eye strain and just look cooler. For Android 12, Google is working to get a much deeper theme system that can recolor supported apps.

On Google Pixel phones today, you have the option to choose one of a handful of colors to use as an accent in a handful of places such as Quick Settings tiles and brightness. Beyond that, the most important way to customize the colors of your phone is to switch between the light and dark theme.

According to information set by 9to5Google, Android 12 is working to bring a native theme system, which allows you to choose a primary color and an accent color, and see the colors reflected throughout Android ̵

1; where supported, more on that a bit. The selected primary color should even affect things like the background color of alerts and the Quick Settings area.

We’ve made some rough mockup pictures showing what it could seems to have a theme enabled. In the first mockup, I borrowed the “Dim” blue shade from Twitter for Android, and combined it with Pixel’s “Space” accent color. In the second mockup I have used some colors from a green color palette for Material Design.

The actual colors you have available to choose from will vary from brand to brand and possibly even model to model, as each phone manufacturer is likely to have their own set of colors. Unfortunately, it does not seem to be an option to create your own unique color scheme or that one can be installed through the Play Store.

What really makes the theme system for Android 12 special, however, is that the selected primary and accent colors will also be available to Android app developers. This means that if your developers choose it, your favorite Android apps can better match your phone’s chosen theme.

In comparison, apps built for Android 10+ simply know if you are in light or dark mode and can adapt to what the app considers to be a dark theme. However, dark mode is very much a subjective issue, with many people having different opinions about which scheme is best. Some prefer a dark gray or even dark blue base, while others deny that real “AMOLED black” is the only real dark theme.

Instead of developers having to design multiple color choices to suit their customers, individuals can choose their own color choice and get it potentially respected by apps. This level of deeper customization that can affect third-party apps, such as Android 12, seems to bring, previously required a rooted device and substrate, a community-based theme system.

An important difference between the theme of Android 12 and the substrate is that the substrate forces individual apps for a specific look, while Android 12 only offer selected theme colors for apps as part of the Android API.

Interestingly, your Android 12 theme colors should also be able to be selected automatically based on your current background. When switching wallpapers, Android should be able to seamlessly switch to new colors similar to the background color palette.

As Android 12 is still early in development, it is still possible for Google to remove this new theme system before launching later this year. We’ll probably learn more when we get Android 12 Developer Preview, which may happen as early as next month.

Dylan Roussel contributed to this article

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