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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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  • 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 wi

    • by RyuuzakiTetsuya ( 195424 ) <taiki@[ ].net ['cox' in gap]> on Wednesday January 04, 2012 @02:24PM (#38587168)

      The problem is that the carrier's business model is to sell you a new phone every six months.

      I don't think carriers and handset makers are actually that clever. I just dont' think they consider software updates at all relevant. Given even in the days of yore, with WinMo and PalmOS, OS updates were largely nonexistant. Want Winmo6 from Winmo5? Buy a Winmo 6 device!

      The idea that you can have the latest and greatest OS with out custom flashing your ROM is kind of new.

    • Subsidized (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Dan East ( 318230 ) on Wednesday January 04, 2012 @03:07PM (#38587684) Journal

      The problem is that the carrier's business model is to sell you a new phone every six months.

      Why in the world would they do that? The carrier's primary goal is to get customers is to commit to the most expensive 2 year contract possible. The insane overage rates are really just to prod customers into upgrading to more expensive contracts is all. Smartphones require the most expensive contracts because they consume voice minutes, SMS texts and data more than any other type of phone. Thus carriers subsidize the phones to give customers the equipment to consume those resources. The ideal customer is one with a modern enough smartphone to require an expensive contract, who that keeps that same smartphone as long as possible.

      Does your monthly rate decrease after your contract is up? Does it decrease if you buy your own phone straight out? Of course not. Yet the carrier makes even more money off of you because you're still paying a monthly rate that factors in the subsidization cost of the phone.

      So to sum it up, there are only two reasons a carrier wants to put new cell phones in their customers' hands. To upgrade customers with regular or premium phones to smartphones that require a more expensive contract, and to keep the more demanding customers from switching to other carriers because they offer more cutting edge hardware.

      • Or reason #3, minimize churn by getting your customers in a new contract before the old one expires. By getting them to lust after a shiny new phone.

      • Carriers in NZ don't seem to follow the USA convention of "get everyone on a 2 year plan". Half the mobile market is prepay, most of the monthly contracts are for companies. There have been times where 1 and 2 year terms come with higher monthly charges, making the "free phone" not very free. The commerce commission probably forced the end of that. Some carriers offer a discount on your monthly plan instead of a phone subsidy if you sign up for a year.

        They are probably loving this phone smart phone fad t
    • by alostpacket ( 1972110 ) on Wednesday January 04, 2012 @03:11PM (#38587718) Homepage

      With all due respect, you don't understand what you're talking about. The greater fragmentation threat revolves around custom implementations of core parts of the OS. Most specifically "ContenProviders" (the API, not media companies, although those are a problem for everyone of a different sort). This is even a problem with Google not following their own APIs but asking developers to use the MediaStore API (but that's a different discussion).

      With regards to upgrades, certain older devices had limited inter protected storage for the OS an apps. The original Samsung Galaxy S is one of these. Right after that phone came out more and more devices were implementing larger internal storage. This particular problem with upgrades, is an unfortunate one-time-only growing pain. That's not to say those devices cannot receive security updates, just that they cannot fit the entire ICS image + apps + a skin on the protected storage.

      You can sit back and play monday-morning-quarterback, but the truth is the internal storage+SD had some nice advantages for the user, but ultimately it was decided (rightly so) that there needs to be more room for apps and the OS.

      Finally, the point of this article, which has little to do with upgrades, is that app makers now have some more reliable and consistent APIs for UI widget appearance. There is nothing bad about this. Sure it's a small step, but it's a step in the right direction. It even allows devs to maintain a style inline with whatever skin the user is currently using, or use the more stock looking one. Finally, when you consider many apps use their own look and feel above and beyond any OS look and feel, this is probably not a huge deal regardless.

      Your tirade again fragmentation, especially being so uninformed on the issue, just seems irrational. iOS is great, Android is great. They have different strengths and weaknesses.

      Flurry is a joke to Android devs. They specifically cater to iOS devs, and were embroiled in a privacy scandal in early 2010 on Android. Further, Google Analytics provides a similar service for free, and one that is already hugely popular among web developers. Flurry puts out that same press release every year to garner press about themselves. This is absolutely the worst kind of skewed statistic. "Iphone analytics company that was previous burned by bad behavior on Android, says more of its customers are iphone devs than in the past" It was sad to see so many media companies pick up the PR release.

      With regards to who does the most web surfing, you would need a statistic that accounts for the fact that many Android phones used to report the UA string as "mobile safari" and that many Android users use a variety of browsers: Firefox, Opera, Dolphin, xScope, and more. I'd look to admob or comScore as at least decent approximations. Certainly

      There are some very valid fragmentation and bloatware arguments to be made against Android, but none of what you brought up holds any water when you dig a little deeper.

      Full disclosure: I'm and Android dev myself, as you can see in my sig.

      • 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).

      • I'm and Android dev myself...

        Given that you are, what do you think of this []? (Seriously.)

        • The AC post sums it up well, there's more money in iOS for sure. I wouldn't dispute that. Thought certainly there is a different revenue model via ads vs paid apps. Still, I think the conclusion there is correct, though note they quote the flurry study.... To be honest, I have a hard time ever taking any *World article seriously though.

          • [T]here's more money in iOS for sure. I wouldn't dispute that.

            What about the actual development? For Android, you have far more software/hardware combinations to code/test for than you do for iOS. Not only is developing for Android less money, but it costs more in terms of developer time.

      • The iPhone 3GS runs an underclocked CPU running at 600 MHz. It received iOS 5 and runs it perfectly. The iPhone 3G contained the exact same hardware as the iPhone 2G, the original iPhone released in June 2007. Until just a few months ago the 3G ran the latest version of iOS.

        If the Galaxy S, a "halo" phone from a year back, can't run the latest version of Android, something is desperately wrong with Google's OS.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by nahdude812 ( 88157 ) *

      As I've observed in other comments [], the iPhone 3GS running the latest version of iOS by version number isn't that impressive since the major new functionality is still locked out of the device (typically for sales reasons rather than hardware reasons such as with Siri). It's cool that you get to see a number which is the same number on newer phones, but it only grants you a carefully selected subset of the most basic of the new functionality, so it's not really the same version after all.

      In contrast, on An

      • absolutely correct. Saying they are the same is wishful thinking and Apple have no intention of giving you new features indefinitely. I bought a Gen1 iPhone and loved it as there was very little real competition at the time (i wasted a lot of money trying the ones i could get). As always, I was not a big fan of the closed environment, but I still enjoyed my phone.

        Fast forward to the iOS 4 release. What? I can't get iOS4 on my phone (w/out a jailbreak anyway). What's that Steve? It's because my phone
      • by Dahamma ( 304068 ) on Wednesday January 04, 2012 @05:06PM (#38588892)

        but it only grants you a carefully selected subset of the most basic of the new functionality, so it's not really the same version after all.

        That's a pretty huge exaggeration. The only missing features for the 3GS are Siri and in-place photo editing. 2 features of 200+ added with iOS 5. Big deal.

    • Perhaps the Android users are playing Angry Birds for free instead of paying their carrier to go on the intertubes
    • You missed two major points. The first is that being "open" and allowing "choice" does not guarantee a better product at first but it does make it pretty much inevitable. iOS will slowly join the ranks of AOL in terms of active use while Android continues to evolve. The second point is that you somehow think that browsing the web is what makes something a smart phone. There are plenty of phones most people would not consider smart that can browse the web. The applications as a whole are what make it a
    • I've been an android user from the start - I really don't know what this fragmentation thing is you speak of. I think its a buzzword invented by apple to scare people away from Android.

      My honeycomb tablet even runs regular phone apps with zero problems.

      If it is an issue - I certainly don't see it as a regular user.

    • Just look at this chart of the completely broken upgrade cycle

      Although I agree that things are much easier to maintain in the black-and-white-world of one hardware platform, one software stack and one source of development, Google is allowing manufacturers to have the ability to innovate and experiment without being locked-in to doing everything "one way". That kind of trickles down to the consumer by allowing them to have a platform where they can experiment and innovate also.

      Yeah it's easier to support one single platform but I think the freedom to innovate is more

    • The fragmentation issue is something Google desperately needs to solve if it wants to avoid the same fate that desktop Linux did.

      Hmmmm ... I'm not sure the fate of desktop linux (which never broke past even 1% of the market) is comparable to Android, which is nearing 50% of the smartphone market. Given Android's success, I'm not sure most users know or care about fragmentation -- all they want is for apps to work on their phone, and this is a good step to ensuring that.

      What I'm really confused about, though, is why a trolling post like this has been modded up to +5. You make one good point (regarding fragmentation) but then sully i

    • Recall that TouchWiz is the reason the Galaxy S and Galaxy Tab won't get Ice Cream Sandwich [] despite being only months old..

      Specifically the 7" Galaxy Tab, only 15 months old and the Galaxy S, only 20 months old. In the tech world that's ancient.

    • by sjames ( 1099 )

      Sure it does. It adds an additional point of commonality to all compliant devices. It may be an incomplete solution, but it does address the problem.

    • Agreed on all points.

      A few years back, I needed a new cell phone. Despite being a big PC freak, I had avoided smartphones for a very long time. I preferred using a cheap phone, and a separate Palm Pilot. Anyway, when shopping for phones, I didn't know much about iPhones and Androids, so the wife and I decided to get one of each, with the option of swapping them, or replacing one outright if it sucked. Despite being Motorola's then-flagship, the XT720 was running an outdated version of Android, with no u

    • Get a life. Its like you spend hours preparing your comments to articles before they hit /. just so you can be first post and spread your filth.
  • bad subject line (Score:4, Informative)

    by roc97007 ( 608802 ) on Wednesday January 04, 2012 @02:33PM (#38587276) Journal

    Holo theme is not mandatory, only support for the Holo theme for devices that use the Android marketplace. So applications can be written that use the Holo theme with some confidence that they will display correctly. This is a good thing. It gives developers a minimum standard look and feel that is required to work.

    • by Hentes ( 2461350 )

      Most GUIs on PC work perfectly accross different look and feels why is it such a big problem on mobile?

      • On a PC if your theme makes buttons larger, you can resize the window to make everything else fit. You can't resize your smart phone screen. mobile screens are also much smaller making borders, padding and fonts have a bigger relative impact on screen real estate
    • Holo theme is not mandatory, only support for the Holo theme for devices that use the Android marketplace.

      That's said in the very first line of the summary. Sure, technically the subject is incorrect, but isn't it de facto correct for a large portion of big name brand Android phones?

  • 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.

  • That even more devices wont have default access to the market.

...there can be no public or private virtue unless the foundation of action is the practice of truth. - George Jacob Holyoake