This is not the Android 12 theme system, but it shows us how hard system themes are to get
There are few things more liberating than being able to take your phone and make it look completely new. Adding new widgets and wallpapers to try new Android launchersThere are plenty of ways to brighten up a phone, but all of them pale in comparison to the overall roulette wheel which is the theme of the system.
System theming is one area where Google’s Android core has lagged behind Android manufacturers for years and years. Of Samsung’s unique user interface – and TouchWiz, let it rot to pieces – to Oppo’s Color OS to Xiaomi’s MIUI to OnePlus’ Oxygen operating system with its colorful accents and wonderfully simplified options, manufacturers have always been willing to build on what Google gave them in a desperate effort to inject personality and spice up the “stock” Android user interface for which Google’s own Pixel line is famous.
I’m not blaming the makers for taking the ball and running with it, because as the leaks we’re seeing right now remind us: the system theme is so incredibly easy to screw up, which is why Google is crawling rather than running. with any theme changes.
Take for example the last major advancement in the Android theme. Adding a system to scale dark theme in Android 10 took half a decade. Google would slip it into the developer preview, tinker with it for the summer, and then pull it off us like Lucy with Charlie Brown’s football.
The themes must be accessible, clearly legible, and beautiful.
The reason it took so long was that Google needed to make sure that dark themes wouldn’t affect the readability or usability of apps, as well as make sure they didn’t interfere with anything. at the system level. It took a long time to Google will redesign its applications for the dark theme and even two years later, we still see apps that only add dark themes because it takes a lot of work.
Now take all that testing and troubleshooting and multiply it by a magnitude of 50, and that’s how hard it is to create a system-wide theme engine that “works” and won’t break the second. where someone slides into a psychedelic wallpaper. And this work does fair must be done by Google, that’s why we have these Android 12 mockup leak to dissect.
(No, these are not screenshots, these are hardware mockups for a third party – likely Facebook or Oppo, given the similarity to Color OS with this theme – about some upcoming features of Android 12 , which we’ll have in a minute.)
System themes impact a multitude of menus, pop-ups, and iconography across the system. The ColorOS-like system theme in these mockups has the launcher and the system theme extracts the element colors based on the wallpaper and it’s … not great. Again, this is do not Android 12 theme system, so I’m not going to mess with all the ways I hate washed out colors, lack of contrast, and poor imitation of Responsive Icons Studio Icon Pack. However, this gives us a glimpse of the possible overhaul of the Android widget guidelines through the appearance of this new system-level Conversations widget.
Part of Android 11 was Conversations and chat bubbles. Conversations is a separate section of the notification panel dedicated to the messages that matter most in our lives, and while it can be difficult to set up, it will be much more worth doing if the conversations also appear on your screen. ‘Home. .
Although the implementation is not 100% clear, you will be able to set several Conversations widgets on your home screen. There are at least two Conversations widgets here – given that two are rounded differently, I’m not sure if this is a variation as the final design is undefined or if the design will vary depending on the type of conversation – showing missed calls and the most recent texts with friends. I’m not sure I’m thrilled with the super small size of these, but given the abysmal state of messaging widgets on Android right now, I’ll take what I can get.
The dynamic coloring of the wallpaper-based widget helps soothe the irritation of having to put multiple widgets on the same home screen, although as you can see from the Birthday widget, the automatically selected colors do not. not always provide a perfectly readable experience.
It’s a lesson Google has learned many times over the years: A few releases ago, the music notification extracted colors from the artwork and featured a gradient towards the artwork. Most of the time it looked good, some albums were showing as sins or almost unreadable which is why in Android 11 when the play notifications moved to the Quick Settings panel, they also ditched the gradient for a solid, easier to read Color. Launchers addressed the same issue with label text and loud or noisy backgrounds.
I’m not completely against themes that automatically scale from your wallpaper; Quick action launcher theme is almost magical, but it still happens that the suggested colors fail. And failure is not an option for a system-wide setting. Your phone should “just work” regardless of the theme you set. Google must therefore align each of its ducks before even considering putting it in a stable version.
After all, we’ve seen firsthand what happens when Google half-rates an Android feature: You get Android 10’s gesture navigation nonsense and you get buggy, inconsistent, and generally unnecessary chat bubbles. We’re now six months away from the stable version of Android 11, and Chat Bubbles is only available on a handful of messaging apps, let alone deliver a consistent, quality experience.
Of course, when chat bubbles aren’t working, you just need to shake your head, turn them off, and move on. When the system theme isn’t working because your new wallpaper just made all your icons unreadable, you curse the sky and hope you can revert to your old wallpaper to get things back to normal.
We’ve had a few mentions of adaptive and more extensive system themes in Android 12, and while I’m more than happy to play with them in next month’s developer preview, take it from someone who’s past four years. to yearn for the dark theme we finally got in Android 10.
This theme system may be cool for the summer, but it’ll be back in Google’s secret toy chest before September. And if you want the Android 12 look now, go check out the Best Android launchers. Smart launcher 5 Icon studio can extract colors from your wallpaper to give you perfectly matched icons, and Smart Launcher and Action Launcher both have options to automatically theme the launcher around the colors of the wallpaper.