Finally, a consistently themed home screen

Android 13 QPR2 Beta 2 just hit your Pixel phone this week, as long as you have joined the Android beta program. While there aren’t too many features on the surface other than the very welcome addition of new emoji, there are some further tweaks lurking in the code and behind feature flags. Among them is an option many have long waited for: Google is experimenting with a flag that forces themed icons on all apps on your phone.


As spotted by Mishaal Rahman and the Google News Telegram channel, the new option sits behind a hidden feature flag named ENABLE_FORCED_MONO_ICON, along with a description that reads, “Enable the ability to generate monochromatic icons, if it is not provided by the app.” This does exactly what it implies—when activated, the Pixel Launcher takes regular icons provided by apps that don’t offer a themed icon of their own and turns them into monochromatic variants that can be themed according to your wallpaper. The result is a home screen that consists only of themed icons, even for those apps that don’t support the option yet.

The method works great for simple icons, like MiX and Ring showcased by Mishaal Rahman. However, when your home screen consists of more heavily stylized app icons, like Instagram with its colorful background, things are a bit more messy. The example provided by the Google News Telegram channel makes that particularly clear, with apps like VK, the Russian Post, or cellular carrier MTS still looking out of place due to their grayscale backgrounds. If Google pulls through with this forced theming option, this might encourage developers to provide their own properly themed icons.

2023-01-10 14.00.35

The method Google currently uses also tweaks shortcuts you add to your home screen. While this is great for more general options, this can look weird when you have contact cards like from Telegram that turn your friends’ or family’s profile pictures into themed icons. It’s clear that this is still a work in progress.

Google may have introduced this flag with the Android 13 QPR 2 Beta 2, but this doesn’t mean that we will see it come to the stable March 2023 release of the new Android 13 version. A feature flag is used for experiments that may never come to fruition, and it’s possible that big app developers could get vocal about their apps not being displayed the way they would like them to. If we’re lucky, the forced mono icons could become part of the developer settings, just like the forced dark theme option which is still useful if you would like all of your apps to appear with darkened backgrounds, even when they don’t offer a dedicated dark mode themselves.

Source link


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here