Material You's dynamic wallpaper theming system may be exclusive to Pixel devices until Android 12.1

Sep 23, 2021
Mobile Computing

Google has been pushing its Material You design heavily, ever since it introduced the personalization feature in May 2021. Android 12 which is expected to be announced in the first week of October, will bring the new look to phones.

Google has already rolled out the Material You design to a couple of its apps, including Gmail and Messages. But there is more to this than just app interfaces, one of the design language's highlights is the dynamic color changer, you can see a demo of it on the official blog. The operating system changes your phone's theme based on the color of your wallpaper. This feature is being referred to as the monet theming system.

It's not as simple as just picking the color, like the Eyedropper tool in Paint. The OS has to do this automatically, and it employs a color extraction engine with an algorithm that detects all the colors in the wallpaper, and determines which colors are dominant, and which ones are not. In the next step it creates a palette of 5 colors, 2 of which are neutral while the other 3 are accents. Then it uses 12 Material colors to compare it with the shades in the wallpaper, to find the closest match. The final step in this method, involves saving the color values to an index, which can then be accessed by apps using an API. That is how the color extraction happens, it is rather complicated, isn't it?

In its Android 12 beta announcement, Google mentioned that its Pixel series would be the first to arrive with the personalization feature, but it wasn't clear whether it would be available for other OEMs to use. In my recent article about the One UI 4 beta for the Galaxy S21, I mentioned that it doesn't appear to have the Material You design, as screenshots that I came across on social media looked rather ordinary. OnePlus has been very hush-hush about its Android 12 beta as well, so we don't really know what it looks like. And now we may have an explanation about why One UI didn't have the Material You design.

XDA reports that the AOSP (Android Open Source Project) for Android 12, did not fully contain the source code related to the color palette generation algorithm. It appears that the code was added to the Android 13's AOSP branch. The article goes on to explain that Google has pushed the source to the Android 12-sv12 branch recently. Now what is that, you may ask. It seems to be a minor update for Android 12, more specifically Android 12.1.

Here are some images that the blog took from a device running on AOSP based on Android 12.1, which shows off the monet theming system.

What this means is that the color extraction mechanic will be exclusive to the upcoming Pixel devices for a while. OEMs have not implemented the Material You design in their first Android 12 release, simply because they did not have access to the color extraction palette. You are probably going to have to wait for your device's manufacturer to release an Android 12.1 update, to bring the personalization feature to your handset. Custom ROM developers might find a workaround to include the feature in their work as soon as possible.

What if OEMs decide to wait for Google to release Android 12.1? That might change things, and the Android 12 Update could arrive later than usual. Several brands including Samsung, OPPO, OnePlus, ASUS, Xiaomi, to name a few, have already participated in the beta program, and have outlined roadmaps to indicate when they plan to release the Android 12 firmware update.

Material You's dynamic wallpaper theming system may be available for all OEMs when Android 12.1 debuts
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Material You's dynamic wallpaper theming system may be available for all OEMs when Android 12.1 debuts
Your phone may not get the Material You's dynamic wallpaper theming system with the Android 12 update. But it may ship with Android 12.1.
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  1. Yuliya said on September 24, 2021 at 12:21 am

    Most manufacturers have their own theming engine already. I wish Samsung would integrate ThemePark into the OS, it’s vastly superior.

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