Jan 03 AT 10:21 PM Taylor Wimberly 44 Comments

Google’s Holo theme required on Android 4.0 devices to gain access to Android Market


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.

Via: Adam Powell

Source: Android Developers Blog

Taylor is the founder of Android and Me. He resides in Dallas and carries the Samsung Galaxy S 4 and HTC One as his daily devices. Ask him a question on Twitter or Google+ and he is likely to respond. | Ethics statement

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  • Phil

    Works for me. I love that theme.

    • http://mihai.discuta-liber.com/ tmihai20

      Having played with the default DPI on my HD2, this is great news. It is just plain dumb to look for compatibility at a property like DPI. As soon as ICS ports for my HD2 will become stable, I will start using one.


    Of course my and my Gnex have no worried :-)

  • redraider133

    I think this is a step in the right direction if they want to cut down on fragmentation and giving the OEM’s something they have to have to access parts of android.

    • LukeT32

      They should make it a requirement to give access to vanilla android on all devices. The manufactors can skin the os however they want, but there should be a theme switcher/launcher.

      • Billy

        I totally agree with this comment. Hopefully, Google is making baby steps towards that idea.

  • AsakuraZero

    looks like google its starting the year with the right pace, uniformity and standardization of the platform its the right choice for them imo

  • erikiksaz

    THANK GOD. I was worried about having to put up with the stupid ugly/retro Touchwiz when I get my next Samsung device.

    • kazahani

      Could not agree more. The only thing I don’t like about Samsung is Touchwiz.

  • spazby

    Step in the right direction

  • oddball

    This is a huge step to stopping the hash that OEMS have made of updates. They will still be able to put their launcher on but it will no longer control everything to the point that a Samsung user and a Motorola user will have trouble switching between systems. I have felt for a while that the huge difference in UI and UE was a major issue for android this goes a long way to fixing that

  • http://goncalossilva.com goncalossilva

    One great move to improve consistency. Hope to see more like these in the future.

  • MoSDeeb

    I wonder how much money manufacturers would save by using the default theme and using their programmers for true enhancements and not for themes

  • TaoRenCe

    Sounds like a winner to me! On a side note, the Bulls win in the 4th quarter again. GO BULLS!

  • http://pixelswim.com Steve Heinrich

    This is is great step. Giving people the option to revert to stock would be the ultimate prize in this.

    2012, the year Android matures into something great. Keep it up Google!

  • thel0nerang3r

    I wish we would get the option to revert to stock UI, like the article says. The manufacturer can make it only done through ADB or something like that, so that people don’t accidentally make the change then start calling tech support because the phone “broke.” Document how to make the change, and make it a couple of steps. So the ones that want it can do it, and the ones that don’t care, will leave it alone and will not accidentally change it. Also, since I’m asking for something that will never happen, I would like a unicorn.

  • Anthony Massingham

    This is a wonderful idea. I’ve been waiting for something like this in Android for a long time. Personally I would just like the option to run stock always – Moving from a Nexus One to a SGS2, that was the biggest and most annoying change to get used to.

  • Stella

    This is great news all around especially for developers and phone buyers. I will love it if manufacturer let the user choose if s/he wants the Android launcher or use the custom launcher. Maybe that will be next…

  • Prime


  • zyphbear

    I’m glad that they are trying to enforce more Standards, though some companies will try to just elect out of using the Market and make their own or Try to force a 3rd party app atore like Amazon or GetJar.

  • Nathan D.


  • lokidokie

    Such a good move. Very happy about that

  • lokidokie

    Better late than never. A year down the track we’ll have to think hard to remember the dark ages when this wasn’t the case

  • ben dover

    Google is going about a unified look and feel to Android the right way! Nail down the main things for devs to work with like what this article covers.

    What I would like to see is the phone market become more like honeycomb tablets. There are themes added my OEMs but the look and feel is still mostly honeycomb. This needs to happen with ICS phones!

  • http://twitter.com/simontaghioff caffeinedependent

    Theming support by the backdoor – shows just how careful Google’s approach has to be compared with Apple or Microsoft.

    It’s actually a great compromise – If Google standardises the launcher, customers will find it harder to differentiate between the experience offered by each device (as well as being less ‘locked in’ to Sense, TouchWiz etc. when it comes to upgrade time).

    If the manufacturers lose software look + feel as a point of differentiation, they’re back to competing on hardware, which ends up as a low-margin commodity business.

    And no-one wants that.

  • Hall Lo

    nice move on this one :) its so difficult sometimes to use my friends’ phone just becoz they have sense or other touchwiz or whatever :/

  • Ismael Rodriguez

    Sweet. Another nail in the coffin for fragmentation? Works for me.

  • http://droidsamurai.blogspot.com DroidSamurai

    Guys, are we getting happy too soon? I read a little bit more about this piece of news and as far as I can tell, if no app developers adopt this new API, no skinned phone will ever see the light of the Holo theme. And, judging by how many app supports the Data Backup API, I won’t set my hope too high. On top of that, even if app developers support adopt the Holo theme through the API, you will still see the customize UI once you leave those apps — you will see the OEM UI in your contact, your phone app, your call log, your messages, your launcher, your notification, even your settings app (because the OEM probably won’t use the Holo theme for these core apps.)

    • http://androidandme.com Taylor Wimberly

      If Google makes the device makers include the Halo theme family, then devs should be able to use it for custom launchers and keyboards. Not all devs will enable it, but many will and users will praise them.

      • http://droidsamurai.blogspot.com DroidSamurai

        That’s exactly what I fear because devs need to enable it. As I pointed out, I can’t even count how many app devs support the Data Backup API, which was released in Android 2.2, because there are so few of them (or none at all.)

        I appreciate what Google tries to do, but if they went through all the troubles to require the Holo theme to be included with ICS (I assume that they must have tested the OEM’s reaction before going forward with this policy), why don’t they just add a single setting that would toggle a phone b/w the stock ICS and the OEM skin by the end user?

  • PapaLos

    I agree. This seems like it’s a giant leap towards the evolution of Android. Nay-sayers, beware.. You will soon have one less thing to talk crap about.

  • jeff.j1990

    First step. More to come

  • Trinhbo

    This doesn’t really mean much. App devs still need to change their apps to support this and even though the change is considered trivial, good luck getting everyone to update their apps.

    Also OEMs don’t have to enable this in their core apps like the dialer, contacts, launchers, etc so we still are stuck with custom ux by default unless you go with the custom ROM route.

  • vid500

    Sounds good.

  • Richard Yarrell

    Pretty sweet googs..Better days are ahead for all…

  • rl

    Meh, am I the only one who do NOT like stock android experience? I have tried every stock android versions on my HTCs, and always went back to HTC Sense (but with launcher pro).

  • ssynhtn

    The Holo theme is unusable IMO.
    Compare ios and android(if you don’t like comparing android with ios, then just don’t read):
    A typical ios app: function buttons and category buttons at the bottom, navigation buttons and title bar at the top
    android 2.x and lower: function buttons and navigation buttons are all at the bottom or hidden, title bar at the top, some apps ported from ios place useless “back button” at the top.
    android 4.0: some of the function buttons(recent apps and home which used to be captive buttons) are at the bottom, most of the function buttons now will be at the top which means no ONE HANDED OPERATION. Back buttons: both top and bottom.
    How can this be nice?
    Hope android 4 won’t be a disaster to android phones like android 3 has been to tablets.
    I’ll stick with gingerbread, tried ICS on my nexus s, just don’t like it, am I the only one who DON’T like ICS?

  • kryddan

    good move Google, some guidepoints might be nice.

  • tumpero

    Step in the right direction, a unified theme across all apps will strengthen the user experience.

  • Oskar Wismierski

    Finally some progress ;)

  • revs

    i dontet it ….stock is ugly sense and touch wiz make the phone appealing to non tech users imo the average consumer thinks stock is ugly as do i …google should offer all types of thems in the market

    • _Diego

      You obviously haven’t seen ICS yet… My tip: head to the stores and check the Galaxy Nexus… you can’t possibly find that ugly now, can you?

  • CTown

    Thanks for this explanation! Couldn’t understand what the other blogs were saying (they didn’t explain that Holo wasn’t the entire AOSP experience).

  • yatin

    i have using htc ,samsung , sony, nexus , all are good at perfomance durabality but when coming 2 ui of the smartphones they should smart as the phones…,, on this stock ui is good at perfomance but looks very ugly as the one used in cheaper phones like micromax n karbonn.
    but for me stock is a waste i will really go to sony timescape or sense they are really better than stock ui.
    its not good move by google.