There’s no doubt the acclaim Ice Cream Sandwich has is the result of the tireless work and efforts from Google’s developers. Google may be ok with custom UI skins on top of its OS, but when it comes to the general theme of the UI of its new jewel, it’s essentially no modifying. Let me explain: Google recently decided that manufacturers who want access to the Android Market will now have to use the Holo theme—untouched and unmodified– as a specific requirement for devices that want to use the Android Market (which is umm, 99.99999% of Android devices).
That’s not to say Google isn’t restricting manufacturers from creating custom skins. In fact, Google stresses the process to create custom UI skins on top of Android 4.0 is even easier:
“We have 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.”
The bottom line: Google is making sure all Android users are getting a somewhat uniform Android 4.0 experience— even if you’re on a device with a custom skin. Adam Powell, an Android Framework Engineer said it best:
“Android apps running on 4.0 and forward can use the Holo themes and be assured that their look and feel will not change when running on a device with a custom skin”.
What this means to manufacturers is so long as they keep the general Holo theme intact, they are free to add their personal touches in the form of custom skins as they choose. However the basics such as the menus and widgets must meet the Android 4.0 standards. Android 4.0 is without a doubt a stunning OS that should be enjoyed relatively at its simplest level. Well done Google, well done.
[via Android Developers Blog]