Android 12 won’t see its final release until later this year, but that hasn’t stopped leaks and speculation from floating about. 9to5Google reports that the next version of Google’s mobile operating system might feature a new theming system.
Theoretically, this would allow you to apply a preset color palette to Android, including theming certain apps. This would complement the existing dark mode as well as the accent colors available on Pixels.
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9to5Google created rough mockups of what this theming system could look like in practice. While only approximations of what we might see with the final product, they still have excited the Android fanbase. People have been asking Google for a feature like this for years.
We could see this in one of the upcoming Android 12 Developer Previews as Google tests the waters. That doesn’t mean, however, that it’ll make it into the final release. At this moment, it doesn’t seem like the end user will be able to create his or her own color palette, or install any additional themes from the Play Store.
Phone manufacturers could have free rein to make their own color schemes, though. And it wouldn’t surprise anyone if the US carriers also got a say in what colors might arrive on certain devices, either.
9to5Google says that the Android 12 theming system will be accessible to app developers. This means that they can see what your chosen color palette is and set their apps to theme themselves accordingly. Still, don't get too excited.
One thing that has plagued Android since its rise in popularity is how disparate app design can be. Even with Material Design — Google’s attempts to create a unified design language for apps — there remain developers who have refused, for one reason or another, to implement those aesthetic philosophies. We don’t think it will be any different with this new theme system.
In practice, all of this wouldn’t be too hard since Android talks with supported apps to automatically apply the dark theme if you have the mode enabled in the OS itself. Android has long had workarounds to force custom themes in the UI and apps, but they required root access. So, something official from Google would be awesome.
The first Developer Preview of Android 12 could appear as soon as next month if Google follows the same development schedule it used for Android 11. We can’t wait to get our hands on the Developer Previews to see what the company is cooking up.
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Jordan is the Phones Editor for Tom's Guide, covering all things phone-related. He's written about phones for over six years and plans to continue for a long while to come. He loves nothing more than relaxing in his home with a book, game, or his latest personal writing project. Jordan likes finding new things to dive into, from books and games to new mechanical keyboard switches and fun keycap sets. Outside of work, you can find him poring over open-source software and his studies.