Google’s announcement of Android 12 came alongside a dynamic theming system called “Material You.” In use, your phone acts as if it’s themed to match whatever wallpaper you use. It’s a very cool concept, but will popular brands like Samsung adopt it? Probably not.
What Is “Material You”?
“Material You” is the evolution of Google’s “Material Design” user interface style that was first introduced in 2014. Material Design marked a drastic new look for Android, and while there have been changes over the years, it hasn’t seen a massive revamp.
With Android 12, Google is making a big change with “Material You.” The “You” part of the name is the most important change. The UI colors change to match the wallpaper that you’re using. A color palette is automatically created and used throughout the UI.
Everything (from the Quick Settings tiles to the volume controls to the Settings app and widgets) is given a coat of paint to match the wallpaper that you’ve selected. This even includes personal photos that can be used as wallpaper.
In short, “Material You” is a way to change the entire theme of your phone by simply changing the wallpaper. With that one change, you can easily freshen up the look of your phone with very little effort.
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Why Won’t Samsung Use It?
OK, so that’s a pretty cool theming system, right? Everyone gets a completely custom and unique theme based on the wallpaper that they’re using. Why wouldn’t Samsung—or other big Android manufacturers—want to use it?
We don’t really know that Samsung won’t use Material You, but based on history, it does seem unlikely. This has a lot to do with Android manufacturers and their love of “skins.” Google has an idea of what they want Android to look like on Pixel phones, but other companies have their own ideas.
An Android “skin” is a modified version of Android. Most of the popular Android device makers have their own skin. OnePlus has “OxygenOS,” HTC has “Sense,” and Samsung has “One UI.” These skins exist for a lot of reasons, but it mostly boils down to differentiation.
Material You feels like just another one of these skins, but it’s complicated. When Google makes changes to Android, they are usually added to AOSP (Android Open Source Project). AOSP is what Samsung uses to make One UI. However, it doesn’t have to use everything in AOSP.
Before Material You, AOSP included the Material Design UI. Samsung doesn’t use Material Design, though. It has its own style with One UI. They’ve established a look and feel that distinguishes Samsung Galaxy devices from other Android devices. Why would it ditch all that?
Never Say Never
Of course, this is all speculation. It’s possible that Samsung will include the Material You theming system in its own way. After all, One UI already supports themes in its current state.
Samsung Galaxy devices have access to a large library of themes from the Galaxy Store. The foundation is clearly there for themes, so it’s entirely possible that Samsung could adopt Material You and put its own spin on it.
It all comes down to differentiation. Samsung doesn’t want Galaxy phones to look like Pixel phones. In fact, it doesn’t even serve Samsung for its customers to know that they’re using an “Android” phone. Samsung wants people to gravitate toward “Galaxy phones” and “One UI.” Will they find a way to make Material You work for them?