Here's why you can't use custom themes in Android P

Here's why you can't use custom themes in Android P
One of the big draws of Android is just how customizable it is, and with the introduction of Oreo, many people were happy to find out that they could modify the look of their devices to a much greater degree and without root.

However, when the first Developer Preview of Android P rolled out, many users were quick to notice that the popular Substratum theming engine, which granted even non-root users the freedom to customize their devices under Oreo, no longer worked. Since then, over 11 thousand people have signed a petition asking Google to bring back the theming feature, 9to5Google reports.

Google has responded to the petition, and many people won't like the answer:

"We appreciate the feedback and would like to share some background information and clarifications.

The Overlay Manager Service (OMS) is intended for device manufacturer’s use. OMS, in its current form, is not designed to be a generic theming feature — more design considerations will need to be put into it in order to uphold Android platform’s security and product standards for users. Accordingly, OMS has never been advocated as a public developer feature.

Earlier this year a security patch (CVE-2017-13263) was released to OEMs for Android Oreo devices. The patch restricts the installation of overlays to pre-installed or system-signed apps, in response to a legitimate security issue raised in Android Oreo. Android P also includes this critical security patch, so it restricts overlays in the same way as does Android Oreo.

We understand that custom theming is an important capability for some users. We will take your feedback into consideration with any future work in this area."

Long story short, this wasn't a feature in Oreo that was removed in Android P, but rather a loophole that was patched out with better security in mind. Of course, theming enthusiasts can still resort to rooting and installing a custom ROM, though we understand why people want to have a granular ability to tweak the UI to their liking from the get-go.

Still, the last line in Google's response offers a bit of consolation, in that the company may, indeed, consider introducing deeper theming capabilities in future releases of Android.

source: Google via 9to5Google



1. adecvat

Posts: 662; Member since: Nov 15, 2013

Google morph android into IOS.

2. RebelwithoutaClue unregistered

While I use Substratum, I can see why they would close a loophole. And you can always revert to custom ROMs if you want to keep on using Substratum. Usually, the ones using Substratum know how to install a custom ROM.

4. nodes

Posts: 1164; Member since: Mar 06, 2014

i only want to theme, and staying stock unrooted. it sucks hard man, love the black themed 3rd party apps on my S8. hope Substratum team came up with something when the update lands.

3. nodes

Posts: 1164; Member since: Mar 06, 2014

Google and Samsung to be exact.

5. antroid

Posts: 396; Member since: Jan 24, 2018

I don't get why they couldn't add another permission to draw overlayes over the screen or whatever. If the user grant a permission for that it could enhance the UI experience of the devic, imo.

8. Back_from_beyond

Posts: 1485; Member since: Sep 04, 2015

You do have to grant permission to apps that want to use overlays, but it would also allow malicious apps to, for example, present you with a fake login screen for your banking app and steal your login details, hence Google blocked the feature.

6. Cat97

Posts: 2021; Member since: Mar 02, 2017

Of course, Google can just lie in order to shut up the audience.

7. LikeMyself

Posts: 631; Member since: Sep 23, 2013

Custom roms are never as stable as stock roms. Google disappoints its users once again for the nth time

9. Martin_Cooper

Posts: 1774; Member since: Jul 30, 2013

The biggest selling point of having Android according to PA Android sheeps just got deleted in Android P. Oh the irony..

10. Krjal

Posts: 441; Member since: Dec 19, 2013

I totally believe them about the security risk and don't believe them at all about working on theming. Google have proven perennially scared of the dark and themes so I can't see them changing things. I really wish they would though...

11. Zylam

Posts: 1823; Member since: Oct 20, 2010

"Android is all about customisation and choice"

12. civicsr2cool

Posts: 281; Member since: Oct 19, 2016

Jailbroken iOS>Rooted Android>Stock Android>Stock iOS

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