Google Will Force OEMs to Include Android 4.0’s Holo Theme In Their ROMs for Developer-Friendly User Interfaces


This is interesting, to say the absolute least. Google will be requiring OEMs of market-enabled Android 4.0 devices to include the OS’s “Holo” theme in their ROM. This doesn’t mean that custom skins are going away, though. Instead, the mandatory theme and framework will allow market developers to create applications that take advantage of Android 4.0’s new style.

Simply put, developers can create applications for the default Android 4.0 environment without having to worry about an OEM’s custom skin mucking up the design they dreamt up. This is a great measure to ensure that developers can take full control of their user experiences.

It reminds me of the problems I had with the old Facebook app on HTC Sense devices. The green color when selecting an item would often clash with the text on any given status update. It not only made the application look bad but hard to read, as well.

Of course, we’d much rather prefer the option of disabling an entire custom skin ourselves but let’s not get ahead of ourselves. We can at least rest easy knowing that the applications we download won’t look bad if the developers don’t want them to, and I appreciate that more than anything. [Google via Engadget]

Quentyn Kennemer
The "Google Phone" sounded too awesome to pass up, so I bought a G1. The rest is history. And yes, I know my name isn't Wilson.

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  1. Definitely a step in the right direction. I’d prefer manufacturers not messing around with the UI at all though.

    1. I actually like TouchWiz (4 and later), but am still hopeful.

      It sounds like they will still be able to include their skin…just not the settings/menus.  I can deal with that…it was really the 4.0 launcher that I really liked.

      1. I love everything behind TouchWiz but that launcher dock and app drawer has got to go.  I hate only 4 buttons and Apps button on the right and I can’t horizontal scrolling.  

        Everything else is incredible.

        1. Google “TW 4.5 xda”. Fr4gg0r created a stand-alone TW launcher that works on virtually any device (ARM7?) and is customizable with themes, and dock/app drawer.

        2. I recently played with the new TouchWiz and it is a slight step in the right direction but it’s no Stock ICS. I themed my Twitter and Calendar to ICS, I use Android Pro Widgets and they got updated last week so that all of their widgets are resizeable on 4.0 phones. I changed to text color on Beautiful  Widgets to match ICS and I even downloaded a ICS Theme for GoSms. This is the first time since I started using Android that all I want to do is keep up with the current coloring theme and not have it all over the place. Maybe a new Touchwiz will bring their theme together more.


      2. Manufacturers will stil be able to include their skins ant themes that will apply to settings/menu as well.  They will also be required to include the holo theme and any application (like the Market) will be able to request that particular theme when run instead of whatever default you have on the device. The device and most apps will follow the manufacturer’s theme (or any custom theme you might have) while a few apps that specifically requests for the Holo theme (or a custom theme it provides) will use that one instead.

      3. Don’t get me wrong, I think some of the custom UIs are an improvement over stock but I don’t like how they delay or prevent handsets getting Android OS updates. For that reason, I would much prefer stock than a custom UI.

        1. Same boat.  Want TouchWiz…want fast updates.

          Hence I am greatly hoping someone ports TouchWiz to my poor l’il G’Nex.

  2. Although Windows Mobile sucked, I liked the option to use the Titanium skin or not.  It sucks that this won’t mean an OEM option to use their skin or not but could this mean an easier way to use the stock experience?  

    Maybe instead of a whole new ROM install, you could turn it off with just ROOT access.  Would be nice.

    1. OEM still have the option to use their skin and set it as default.  But now developers also have the option of forcing the Holo theme (or their own theme) so their application has a constant look and feel across devices. Altough, I’m guessing a lot of them won’t force a theme and just use whatever is set as default on your phone/tablet so the experience is more consistent across all apps on the device itself.

    2. not to mention it was easy to drop customized UI elements into the OS.

      I definitely miss some of the capabilities of the old winmo. but that is kind of like being a longtime player of MMO games, of course I miss some of the features of everquest that made it unique, but I sure as hell will never play it again.

  3. Bravo Google Bravo!

  4. Hmmm….. Android users seem to want a consistent experience across all devices when it comes to UI.

    Kinda reminds me of another mobile OS that DOES provide a consistent UI among all of it’s devices.

    1. “Kinda reminds me of another mobile OS that DOES provide a consistent UI among all of it’s devices.”

      If you’re talking phones, then you mean all of its device*(singular).

      1. I hate to be that guy, but…

        “Kinda reminds me of another mobile OS that DOES provide a consistent UI among all of its devices.”

        it’s=”it is”
        its=”possession of one object by another object”

        Sorry, bad grammar drives me nuts.

        1. Nah. thank you.  I’ve got a bad habit when it comes to its, it’s and your, you’re.  THANKS!

        2. you’re not that guy when correcting someone who is already correcting someone else. 

          1. the irony, of course, is that he was correcting the guy the other guy corrected, not the guy that corrected that guy in the first place. ergo, he is that guy.

          2. Dun dun duuun!!

        3. Sorry, bad grammar drives me nuts.
          Then stay off message boards. 

          1. shouldn’t you drive the point home and say:

            “Then stay off message board’s”

    2. Oh you mean the one in the walled garden with no way to customize anything? Have fun with that.

    3. Oh look an apple user trolling an android site. GTFO please.

      1. Could be Microsoft trolls.

    4. Actually, Android DEVELOPERS wants to be able to have a consistent UI across devices. This way Google provides  way for manufacturers and users to customize their devices while allowing the developers to force a specific UI to ensure their application has a consistent look. A developer can also develop it’s own UI elements if desired and bypass either the default or custom UI that’s active on your device.

    5. Troll fail.

      Thank you guys for not addressing this jerk.

      Please keep up the good work :)

    6. Ooh!  Apple fanboy alert! 

      Time to play…

      Hmmmmm….Apple fanboys seem to want to lump all Android users into one nifty pile so they can continue to believe in their own self-superiority.

      Problem:  Your conclusion is flawed due to the fact that your initial assumption is false. 

      Fact:  Not all Android users want the same interface.  There is much heated discussion among fans of Sense/Blur/TW over which is better.

      …some of these folks are almost as blinded by religious zealotry for their favorite interface as you are for your iDevices.

    7. Say it with me “Options”.  It’s all about user/dev choices and options. Something that fruit lacks!

    8. Incorrect, keyword to use is “choice”. A word you may not be familiar with. Having access to things and being forced to use them are very different.

    9. You obviously don’t understand the point of this.  It’s so developers don’t have to worry about developing for different UIs.

    10. Oh!? Do you mean the one that gives the older one partial updates and trick consumers into thinking they’re real updates? Oh!! Is it the one that took 4 years before the option of having a wallpaper was added!? Oh I know!! It’s the one that has the drop down notification bar. Only one OS is known for that. :D

  5. i guess this is to get rid of fragmentation

  6. You know… I’ve always had this crazy idea:

    Why not make custom UI overlays and “software value packages” (aka. preloaded bloatware packages) entirely modular?  What I mean is this: make it so you can put, say… Sense UI on a device, but without having to modify the base ROM.  So you could ship a device with Sense (for example), but have a menu somewhere in the settings called “Custom UI” or something like that.  Any custom UI(s) and preloaded software packages that go along with it appear in that menu with an Enable/Disable button (and preferrably Uninstall as a 3rd option).  So that way if you want to disable or remove custom UI’s and bloatware, you can with 1 click.

    This offers consumers a couple of big benefits: 1) it allows us purists to get whatever device we want and still be able to get a stock google experience and 2) it allows the different hardware vendors to directly market their UIs to users by putting them in the Market.  Want to run Sense on your Samsung?  No problem!  Just buy it from the Android Market!

    Purists can have their stock google experience, people who actually LIKE the unnecessary UI overlay bull$#!+ can have whichever one they like, hardware manufacturers can continue to sell their hardware without having to abandon their hard work on their UI overlays AND they can directly market their “UI experience” as a separate commodity for those who actually like them.  Everyone wins.

    But of course, this won’t happen, because it makes sense.  And we can’t have that…

    1. There is a problem with that (Market thing). They don’t want to put skins in the Market and provide “value” to people who buy other phones. It’s like working for free to others (because they’re not a software company and don’t see value in TW per se, hence the detrimental opinion surrounding these overlays). However, I agree about making it modular. The value is there for those that want it. However again, you commoditize your phones, and nobody wants that… they are too afraid to trust their own balls to become a hardware company. I’d love to see a good retailer concentrating on providing just amazing hardware and support the Cyanogenmod community to deliver us super ROMs. Pretty much like a DD-WRT router these days… it would be awesome.

  7. Do not feed the trolls. If an entire comment on this blog is about how a competing platform is superior, it is obviously a troll post. It pains me to have to scroll through an entire page of Android nerd-rage every entry.

  8. Yay!! And this October when LG makes the nex Nexus, and JellyBean comes out, things will be even better. It won’t moto which phone you have, the UI will be consistent. Awesome!!

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