How to enable themed icons in Android 12

Material You is a new global theming engine for Android, and the third beta release extends that design scheme to icons. Jack Wallen shows you how to enable themed icons.

Android 12 phone on a desk

Image: sdx15/Shutterstock

Material You is the UX reboot Android has needed for a very long time. With Material Design looking outdated, Google decided to finally apply a fresh coat to the UI. And, boy, did it succeed. Material You is a spectacular take on the mobile interface. One of the most interesting features to come with this reboot is how the global theme is dynamically based on whatever home screen wallpaper you’ve set. So if your wallpaper is very blue-centric, your theme will follow that color scheme. If that image includes a lot of green, then green it is.

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But the Material You dynamic theming doesn’t just apply to widgets and app interfaces. As of Android 12 beta 3, that dynamic system extends to icons. With this new feature, you’ll find monochrome icons that now match the global Material You theme. It’s actually quite a wonderful addition to the new theming engine and should please anyone who’s on board with Material You.

Before I show you how to enable this feature, know that not every app has a Material You-ready icon. All of the Google apps work with the feature, as do some third-party applications. I’m guessing it won’t be until the final release of Android 12 that almost all applications will work with the themed icon feature.

Let’s get those dynamic icons enabled.

What you’ll need

As Material You is only available in Android 12, you must have the latest beta release on your device. Find out how to install Android 12 beta on supported phones in “How to get the Android 12 beta.”

Let’s enable those themed icons.

How to enable themed icons

Long-press the home screen of your Android 12 device. In the resulting menu (Figure A), tap Wallpaper & Style. 

Figure A

iconsa.jpg

The long-press menu from the Android 12 home screen.

Scroll to the bottom of the resulting page and tap the On/Off slider for Themed icons until it’s in the On position (Figure B).

Figure B

iconsb.jpg

Enabling the themed icons option in Android 12 on a Pixel 4.

Once enabled, you’ll see the new monochrome icons are re-themed to match the global UI (Figure C).

Figure C

icons-compare.jpg

The non-themed icons are on the left and the themed icons on the right for comparison.

Will this new feature make you more productive with your Android device? No. But it is yet another step forward for the Android interface and helps bring Material Design into the modern age of mobile interfaces.

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