Today Google revealed that their Holo theme family must be included on devices running Android 4.0 or later if the device manufacturer wishes to meet the compatibility requirements and gain access to the Android Market and Google’s other apps.
This requirement will hopefully speed up platform updates for device manufacturers, allow app developers to spend less time worrying about what will be different from one device to another, and provide a more consistent experience to the end user.
Adam Powell, an Android Framework engineer, detailed the compatibility standard on the Android Developers Blog in a post called Holo Everywhere. “We’ve made the inclusion of the unmodified Holo theme family a compatibility requirement for devices running Android 4.0 and forward. If the device has Android Market it will have the Holo themes as they were originally designed.”
Theme elements include things like highlight colors, default padding and margins, font color, font size, background color and much more. App designers will now be able to choose between the device’s default theme (Sense, TouchWiz, MotoBlur, etc.) or Google’s Holo. In the past, some apps did not always display properly if the developer designed their app to work with the stock theme instead of the manufacturers’ custom themes.
Google says that these new compatibility standards should also speed up device updates. By separating the theme families, future merges should be easier for device manufactures when updating to a new platform version.
It would be nice if Google also required the stock homescreen and launcher found in Android 4.0, but today’s news just covers the theme families. Hopefully more device manufacturers will listen to the feedback from customers and allow them to revert to the stock Android 4.0 experience if they choose.
At the very least, hopefully Google is laying the groundwork for a full blown user-experience-system-wide theme-picker in a future update to Android.