‘Ugh, Android is just so fragmented,’ is the oft repeated clarion call of the anti-Android brigade. The announcement of Android 4.0, aka Ice Cream Sandwich, ought to have put paid to that somewhat. But here’s another tidbit that’s a further nail in that argument’s coffin.
A post on the Android Developer’s Blog signposts Google’s plans to standardise the Android experience, reigning in the look and feel of themes while making it easier for manufacturers to roll out future Android updates.
El Goog wants to make the fetching blue neon Ice Cream Sandwich theme, called ‘Holo’, mandatory for any device that includes the Android Market on it:
“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.”
The three Holo themes are as follows, ‘Theme.Holo’ (left) ‘Theme.Holo.Light’ (middle) and ‘Theme.Holo.Light.DarkActionBar’ (right).
Though it sounds like Google is enforcing the Android 4.0 Holo theme on devices, adopting more of a Windows Phone approach, this is not the case.
Sensible, not Sense-less
Google says that it has “no desire to restrict manufacturers from building their own themed experience across their devices. In fact we’ve gone further to make this even easier. In Android 4.0’s API (level 14) we’ve added a new public theme family to complement the Holo family introduced in Android 3.0: DeviceDefault.
DeviceDefault themes are aliases for the device’s native look and feel. The DeviceDefault theme family and widget style family offer ways for developers to target the device’s native theme with all customizations intact.”
So in other words, HTC’s Sense and Samsung’s TouchWiz aren’t going anywhere; Google is still allowing manufacturers to respray the UI how they like it. However the vanilla Holo theme will still be there, under the skin, so to speak.
Perhaps the biggest plus of this new move is the fact that this will make it “easier for manufacturers updating to a new platform version, helping more devices update more quickly.”
Anything that closes the gap between Google announcing a new version of Android and it actually appearing on devices is music to our ears.