Google’s new Material You theming engine in Android 12 adds a personal touch to your user interface. The main colors of your wallpaper dynamically affect the colors in menus and apps, essentially putting you in control of the overall theme. But there’s another new design element for app icons that’s hiding in your settings.
It’s called “Themed icons,” and it’s currently an Android 12 beta feature for the Google Pixel 3 and newer models.
By default, app icon colors on your Pixel’s home screen are not affected by your wallpaper choice, and that’s not surprising given that each app will want to retain its trademark color palette. But “Themed icons” can change that. With it activated, supported app icons adjust to a monochromatic design, with the white portion dynamically tinted with the appropriate colors from your wallpaper.
To unlock the Material You-themed app icons on Android 12’s home screen, head to your “Wallpaper & style” settings. To get there, you can:
- Press your home screen wallpaper, and select “Wallpaper & style.”
- Open the Settings app, and select “Wallpaper & style.”
- Open your app library (swipe up on your wallpaper), type “wall” into the search bar, and select “Wallpaper & style” from the results.
- Say “wallpaper settings” to Google Assistant.
Next, scroll to the bottom of the wallpaper settings and toggle on the “Themed icons (Beta)” switch. That’s all there is to it. When you go back to your home screen, apps that support the feature will change and be affected by your wallpaper theme.
You’ll notice right away that only some app icons will update. Right now, this is a Google-only feature, so only Google’s apps will play nice with it — but not all of them. Standard apps like Calculator, Clock, Gmail, Google, Maps, Meet, and YouTube work, but others like Assistant, Maps Go, Play Games, PhotoScan, Snapseed, and YouTube Kids will not. See the lists below for the complete list of what works with “Themed icons” and what doesn’t.
Also, note that widgets and app shortcut icons are not affected. Neither are app icons in the app library or Settings app, so it can be hard to tell which ones work if they aren’t already on your home screen.
Here are a few more examples of what these look like with different wallpapers:
You can also play with the accent colors in the wallpaper settings. If you select an option under “Wallpaper colors,” it will dynamically theme everything to the color scheme represented. Selecting a hue from “Basic colors” will make it that color no matter what wallpaper you choose.
To theme your home screen properly with Material You’s theming engine, it should be a requirement that developers add themeable app icons when submitting apps to the Play Store. However, Google doesn’t have an API out for the feature, so you won’t see any third-party apps jumping on board any time soon, which is a shame. Maybe one day, but for now, here are the apps that do and don’t work:
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