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Holo Theme Is Now Mandatory For Android Devices 206

tripleevenfall writes in about the new theme changes in Android 4.0. From the article: "Starting with Android 4.0, support for the 'Holo' theme will be mandatory for phones and tablets that have the Android Market installed. Holo is the stock Android theme, known for its sharp angles, thin lines and blue hue. Third-party developers can now create apps and widgets using the default Android aesthetic, knowing that's how it'll look on every major Ice Cream Sandwich device that has the Android Market. " This is not banning custom themes; instead it is merely giving developers a consistent theme that is guaranteed to be installed if they want a consistent look across all devices. There are even a few improvements to the style protocol to help developers deal with dark and light themes.
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Holo Theme Is Now Mandatory For Android Devices

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  • by bonch ( 38532 ) * on Wednesday January 04, 2012 @02:03PM (#38586914)

    This doesn't appear to address fragmentation at all. To the contrary, fragmentation will be even easier, according to the article:

    To be clear, this doesn't mean the death of phone makers' user interface customizations, such as HTC's Sense or Samsung's TouchWiz. Far from it: Google is also making it easier for developers to accommodate these custom interfaces, with a bit of code that adopts whatever theme the device is using by default. Essentially, app developers will be able to choose whether their apps will look more like stock Android 4.0, or like the phone maker's customized interface.

    Recall that TouchWiz is the reason the Galaxy S and Galaxy Tab won't get Ice Cream Sandwich [slashdot.org] despite being only months old. Just look at this chart of the completely broken upgrade cycle [imgur.com] for Android smartphones--and note the 2 1/2 year old iPhone 3GS can run the latest version of iOS. The problem is that the carrier's business model is to sell you a new phone every six months. It's not in their best interests to provide upgrades and support. As far as they're concerned, interaction with the customer is over the moment you purchase the phone, so they don't give a crap about trying to provide a cohesive platform that interoperates with competing Android phones.

    Seamless experiences win out in the long term. We saw this when gaming moved from PCs to consoles in the 2000s, and it's happening now in the transition to the post-PC era. The previous mobile web OS usage [slashdot.org] article raised a lot of eyebrows, because despite the fact Android has greater volume, it's turns out that it's actually #3 in web use behind Java ME and iOS, which means the majority of Android users are not using their phones like smartphones, for whatever reason. On top of that, developer support for Android dropped by one-third over the course of 2011 [flurry.com] despite an increase in activations.

    The fragmentation issue is something Google desperately needs to solve if it wants to avoid the same fate that desktop Linux did. Throwing something out there, calling it open, and letting "choice" steer the ship isn't going to do it. Requiring support for a theme is a step in the right direction, but all it means is that there is a default theme, not a standardized one.

  • Re:Err (Score:5, Interesting)

    by DrGamez ( 1134281 ) on Wednesday January 04, 2012 @02:10PM (#38587008)
    It's depressing when my mom asks me to do something on her new Verizon Android phone and I stare at it in confusion for more than 5 minutes. I've owned a Nexus One since they were sold though so I guess it's my fault in thinking the phone companies wouldn't slather their layer of ugly paint on everything.

    Android is nice because it allows the companies selling/branding the phones to do it their way.

    Unfortunately they are better at stealing money then they are designing UIs.
  • by forkfail ( 228161 ) on Wednesday January 04, 2012 @02:20PM (#38587128)

    It's the stock phrases, such as "Seamless experiences win out in the long term." They're pretty much copy-paste.

    And this from an extremely unhappy Samsung Galaxy S phone, complete with busted GPS and no ICS.

  • Re:Err (Score:4, Interesting)

    by dreemernj ( 859414 ) on Wednesday January 04, 2012 @02:31PM (#38587254) Homepage Journal
    Think of it this way - if they didn't use Android, there is a very good chance they would still have a horrible UI. But it would then be a phone with a horrible UI and no vast library of Apps. That doesn't make what they are doing good. But it's at least a silver lining.
  • The Problem... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by eno2001 ( 527078 ) on Wednesday January 04, 2012 @02:52PM (#38587494) Homepage Journal

    ...for me has always been that any OS or device I've used has been riddled with bone headed design decision. Things that break easily with normal use. UI elements that are the wrong size or in the wrong place. Poor choice of fonts. In all honesty, you'd have to be pretty simple minded to love every product that comes out of a single company or every bit of software that comes from the same developer. I mean look at the Ford vs. Chevy guys. That's the ultimate outcome of customer loyalty: a lack of thinking. Given that most of us here are rugged individualists, it's a natural assumption that we're going to want to do things our own way. Sometimes that will be just giving in an saying, "Oh the heck with it, Apple makes a pretty decent device and I don't have the time to fiddle". Other times it will be, "Good lord Microsoft can't code a decent UI to find their way out of a virtual box of nothing. Screw this I'm going back to (insert better OS choice for your needs here)". Show me a person who says, "Everything that (insert company or developer) created has always been perfect and I've had no need to change a thing" and I'll show you a liar. Config files, preferences, options, themes, control panels all exist for a reason: nothing is perfect.

  • by icebike ( 68054 ) * on Wednesday January 04, 2012 @03:16PM (#38587784)

    An open platform will always have a certain level of fragmentation. It's part of the cost you pay for having an open platform. The benefit is that you get more apps and options. The downside is that they don't always play nice. So - I admit that there are negatives to so-called fragmentation.

    Fragmentation is a pejorative, invented by Apple in an attempt to cast diversity in a bad light.

    When anyone brings it up when discussing a wide range of options and freedom in the market place you can know they are Apple fanbois. You never see the word applied to any other area, such as Automobiles, where there is even more diversity and choice.

    In those areas, phrases like wide selections, lots of choices, wide variety, diversity, freedom, all are positive attributes.
    Even "clones" and "Forks" have a positive connotation in the areas of computers and software.

    Only when speaking of Android is the word fragmentation trotted out.

    Convince me that is just coincidental.

  • Bingo (Score:5, Interesting)

    by jareth-0205 ( 525594 ) on Wednesday January 04, 2012 @03:37PM (#38587998) Homepage

    *Thankyou*. I'm an Android dev too, and it constantly astonishes me that the form of "fragmentation" that most of the tech world complains about (OS version number) has nothing to do with the form of "fragmentation" that actually causes me any sort of real problem (screen aspect ratios / device bugs / differing OS implementations).

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