If you've picked an Android phone over an iPhone, one of the reasons might have been the extra flexibility you get in terms of device customization and theming. The most recent Android 12 release moves this up a notch, introducing a design language called Material You.
This means bolder colors and bigger buttons in general, but it also extends to the ability to tweak the aesthetics of menus, icons, and other design elements across the whole of the mobile operating system. You can even have the Android 12 color scheme automatically change to match your phone's current wallpaper.
Now third-party apps are getting involved too: Repainter ($5) has emerged from beta to give you even more control over the look of the Android 12 interface. It's free to use and works with most phones running Android 12—the caveat is that some handsets require you to root your phone to access some of the app's features.
Repainter works fine without root access on Samsung phones, and offers some features without root access on Pixel phones. You can check the app listing for details of compatibility with your own particular handset.
Finding the Material You Customization Options
If your phone is running Android 12, you can access the Material You customization options by opening up the main Settings screen and choosing Wallpaper & style (we're giving you instructions for Google Pixel handsets, but other Android phones should be similar). Tap Change wallpaper if you want to alter the home screen backdrop from what it is currently.
Underneath the wallpaper preview you've got two options: Wallpaper colors and Basic colors. Choose Wallpaper colors and you get a choice of palettes that go well with your selected wallpaper image, and these shades will then be applied across the operating system to menus, icons, widgets, and so on.
Switch to Basic colors and you get a more standard set of palettes to pick from, which have nothing to do with your chosen wallpaper—although the same elements of the user interface get adjusted. Any changes that you make are applied instantly, so you can see how they look on your phone straight away.
Further down the same screen you can tweak the look of Android 12 in various other ways. You can change the size of the app grid used on the home screens, switch to a dark theme, and apply the chosen Material You theme to app shortcut icons as well—though this doesn't always work perfectly with every app.
Installing and Using Repainter
Get Repainter installed on your handset and the number of available customization options increases, though as we mentioned above, the settings you'll see will vary depending on your phone's make and model. You may also be asked to install a separate (free) app called Shizuku to help with the theming if your phone isn't rooted.
As before, you've got two choices for your color options, Wallpaper and Custom. With Repainter, there are a lot more color palettes to pick from in both categories. Again, the colors of the interface will adjust as you make different selections. When you're happy with your choice, tap Done.
You'll then be taken to the main Repainter screen, where you can see the color palette that's been selected in more detail via the Colors tab. Switch to the Settings tab and you can adjust how Repainter works in a variety of ways—you can set how it picks colors from your chosen wallpaper, pick different colors for individual widgets on the home screen, and turn theming on and off with a tap.
Pick Settings and then Color and you can really dig into the colors you're using: You're able to shift color brightness and vibrancy, add tinted backgrounds, and apply a "pure black" background that looks fantastic on OLED screens. Some of these settings can be adjusted to match the wallpaper you're using as well, so the look of the interface adapts depending on your home screen backdrop.
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