When Google unveiled Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich, we quickly learned that a refined version of the “Holo” system theme would be used throughout the operating system. Now, Google has announced in a blog post on the Android Developers website that it will require vendors to use the theme to gain access to the Android Market and Google apps and services. Android Framework engineer Adam Powell explained:

In Android 4.0, Holo is different. We’ve made the inclusion of the unmodified Holo theme family a compatibility requirement for devices running Android 4.0 and forward. If the device has Android Market it will have the Holo themes as they were originally designed. This standardization goes for all of the public Holo widget styles as well.

The benefit, according to Google, will be easier to implement future updates for vendors. As The Verge pointed out, “it most definitely does not mean that Google is enforcing usage of the theme on” third-party developers. It will, however, allow developers to avoid using the system themes of TouchWiz and other third-party skins, and instead they can utilize Holo. Powell wrapped up Google’s final thoughts on the decision below:

Android apps running on 4.0 and forward can use the Holo themes and be assured that their look and feel will not change when running on a device with a custom skin. Apps that wish to use the device’s default styling can do so using the DeviceDefault themes that are now in the public API. These changes let you spend more time on your design and less time worrying about what will be different from one device to another. Finally, Android’s resource system allows you to support features from the latest platform version while offering graceful fallback on older devices

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