One of the hallmarks of the upcoming Material You design language, featured in Android 12, is apps theming themselves based on your current wallpaper. Signs have begun to point toward Chrome for Android preparing to support Material You color theming.

Update: A new flag confirms the Material You coloring will indeed be coming soon to Chrome on Pixel phones.

Material You is set to freshen up Material Design on Android and beyond, improving on 2018’s Material Theming. Beyond changes to cards and UI, adding things like more steeply rounded corners, the hallmark feature of Material You is a revamped color system that moves Android from binary light/dark themes to a nearly infinite spectrum of personalized color schemes, based on your current wallpaper.

While Google hasn’t yet explained to Android developers how best to use the Material You color system, the simplified version — as explained by our Dylan Roussel — is that app developers will want to use new color APIs that will always return an appropriate shade. Once set up, Android 12 handles the necessary color changes for you.


Update 6/25: According to a newly posted code change, work has officially begun for Chrome for Android to support Material You coloring on Android 12. As is often the case, the work will initially be hidden behind a flag in chrome://flags.

Dynamic colors on Android

Enabled dynamic colors on supported devices, such as Pixel devices running Android 12.

#dynamic-color-android

Beyond confirmation of the Material You redesign being in progress, the most interesting tidbit we learn here is that “Pixel devices” are explicitly called out, not just Android 12. The implication, albeit an unsurprising one, is that not all Android 12 devices will necessarily support the dynamic colors of Material You.

It remains to be seen how exactly Chrome will determine whether a particular Android 12 device is compatible with dynamic coloring, whether there’s a setting that OEMs can disable or something more intricate.


Original 6/10: So where does Chrome fit into all of this? Earlier this month, a code change was posted to Chromium which starts reworking the way that Chrome for Android handles its Material Design colors. In the comments, we find two developers discussing how Chrome intends to use these colors.

During this discussion, it’s realized that “another layer” of work will be needed for Chrome to “conditionally get the material next colors.” Before the “Material You” name was revealed at Google I/O, Googlers referred to the third generation of Material Design as “Material NEXT” and it seems the name has stuck, at least internally.

From this, we can presume that Google is actively thinking about how to integrate the chameleon-like nature of Material You into Chrome for Android. This would mark a significant shift for the mobile version of Chrome, as today the app only offers a light/dark toggle, with no sign of the broader theme support offered by the desktop browser.

For now, it’s not clear what parts of Chrome for Android — or even how much of it — would be potentially rethemed by Material You. Using the recently uncovered work being done to reskin Google Messages as a basis, we’ve crafted a simple mockup of one potential way that Chrome could be hued in a non-disruptive way.

That said, considering the work has not yet begun and Material You isn’t set to properly launch until Android 12 releases later this year, we’ve likely still got a great deal of waiting to do before Chrome for Android gets recolored. When it does, it will be just one of many of Google’s apps to be recolored for Material You, joining apps like Gboard and Messages.

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