Friday, January 5, 2018

Substratum Theme Manager Gets a UI Revamp & Performance Improvements

Substratum, a mainstay in Android system theming since the Marshmallow days, received a major design revamp this week along with some security improvements and a new default theme compiler to improve performance. The new design, first teased last month, has been long-anticipated and has finally arrived.

The improvements to the user interface (UI) are designed to make the app more user-friendly, and include the ability to show your installed themes in a multi-column grid to save some scrolling and the ability to return to the theme list by simply swiping down on whichever theme you currently have open. Below is a screenshot gallery of the new UI in action.

When you open a theme, Substratum colors the action bar and the navigation bar to match the dominant color of the theme’s header image. One caveat applies though: when a transparent/translucent theme is applied, the Substratum app overrides such transparency with that same solid color. Substratum Development Leader nicholaschum assured me that the team is aware of the issue and is currently working on a solution. You can see the dynamic coloring in action in the screenshots below with no theme applied.

On the performance front, the default theme compiler was changed from the AAPT (Android Assets Packaging Tool) from the Marshmallow era to AOPT (Android Overlay Packaging Tool). When I asked nicholaschum about the difference, he said the latter compiler was built from Oreo sources, enabling it to compile more API-level specific resources such as the downloadable fonts API available starting in Android 8.0.

There are, of course, plenty of other changes introduced in Substratum 930, which you can read about in detail in nicholaschum’s Google+ post. There was another interesting statement made in that post: with Samsung beginning to roll out Oreo updates to its latest devices, the Sungstratum plugin will soon no longer be necessary. Users will thus be transferred over to the Andromeda plugin for unrooted devices running Samsung’s stock Oreo ROM.

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