One of the headline features of Android 12, at least on Pixel phones, is the new Material You design language and its core component, the “Monet” theming system. It takes a quite unconventional approach to Android theming, automatically assembling a color palette based on a user’s wallpaper and applying it all over the UI. That’s fine for Google’s own phones, but what about those from other manufacturers? Although this theming system won’t hit AOSP in time for Android 12, it now looks like Google is planning to make dynamic theming open-source for a future Android release.
Google initially said during I/O 2021 that the dynamic theming system in Android 12 would be coming to Google Pixels at first, and indeed, the Android 12 betas we’re seeing based on One UI (as well as Oppo’s ColorOS 12 beta) have no signs of wallpaper-based theming anywhere in their interfaces, something that can be at least partly explained by it being absent from Android 12’s initial open-source release. The folks over at XDA-Developers, however, spied a recent commit labeled “add monet to AOSP.”
This patch was initially only available on the Android 13 branch, but it was then specifically selected for the Android 12-sv2 branch, which XDA and other outlets are referring to as “Android 12.1” since it will be accompanied by an API version bump to API 32. That sort of change accompanies either major or minor version bumps, and Android’s release cycle hasn’t seen a formal “minor” bump since Android 8.1 was released with a bump to API 27 in 2017. So far, changes in Android 12.1 include a new default AOSP wallpaper (the first time it’s actually changed since Android 7.0 Nougat in 2016), and a few improvements for the foldable experience.
XDA also got its hands on screenshots from an internal AOSP build of this “Android 12.1” and how this open-source implementation of Monet will work, and it looks pretty similar to Pixel builds, with several other Material You UI elements also in tow:
We have no clue when this update for Android 12 will be out, whether it’s actually “Android 12.1” or just a silent release that will also be called just Android 12, but it might be somewhere around the time the Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro arrive. This is still no guarantee that Monet will come to third-party OEM skins, though — after all, it’s always up to individual phone makers to decide whether they want to support such things across their custom UIs or not. But at least they’ll be able to if they really want.