Dev Preview Hints Android P Could Remove Rootless Substratum Support

Andromeda, the Rootless Substratum Backend

Google just released the first developer preview for Android P, this year’s major Android upgrade. While the OS refresh brings with a number of new features, it also removed one feature that takes a huge hit on Android customizations. According to a recent report from XDA, Android P doesn’t support custom overlays like Substratum themes.

Last year, much to the surprise of many in the Android community, Android 8.0 Oreo brought with rootless Substratum support. This allowed users to install custom themes on their devices which were previously just available on rooted devices. Now, Google seems to have taken away that feature in Android P.

As the report explains, if a user tries to install a custom overlay in Android P, the following message pops up in the logcat:

“1239 W PackageManager: Package couldn’t be installed in /data/app/
03-07 21:00:13.099 1179 1239 W PackageManager: Overlay must be signed with the platform certificate.”

The aforementioned message means that Android P only supports overlays installed by the system, something that is currently found on the theme engine in the Razer Phone. The report further adds that as soon as a user upgrades to Android P, the list of installed overlays disappears. Members from the Substratum team have also confirmed the issue.

With Android P, if a user wishes to install a custom overlay, they will have to resort to rooting the device and installing a custom ROM. Unrooted users will not be able to make any customizations to the OS, including installing themes, changing emoji, customizing navigation bar icons, lock screen customizations and other personalization options, which Substratum offered. However, since this is the first developer preview of Android P, we can still keep our hopes up and dearly wish that Google reverts the changes in upcoming releases. The Substratum team also plans to start a petition to get Google to get back support for the functionality.

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