So if you weren’t paying attention, the first Android P Developer Preview already launched almost a week ago, giving us a glimpse of what Google thinks the next Android version should look like. There are a lot of changes in the interface and a lot of possible useful new features included in what looks to be an already promising Android version. There is one thing might turn you off, though, and we’re already sad about it: no Substratum.
In Android Oreo, Google took a chance and integrated Sony’s Overlay Manager Service, the foundation for what is now the Substratum theming engine which is native to LineageOS. Using this service, Substratum developers were able to create an add-on called Andromeda which allows Substratum to apply themes in Android Oreo without root access. This was the first time Google allowed Android to be themed without using custom ROMs or replacing system files – different colors and overlays, a dark theme, change emojis in some apps, customize the navigation bar icons, lock screen, recent app thumbnails, quick settings – you name it, Andromeda can probably do it.
This feature is NOT in the Android P Developer Preview – it’s gone. In Android P, only overlays installed by the system will be allowed to run, and trying to run a custom overlay will be met with a sad error message – “package couldn’t be installed”. This behavior has been confirmed by Substratum developers and other disappointed users.
To this end, an XDA member has filed a feature request on Google’s Issue Tracker to get this feature back, and Substratum developers said that they will be supporting this request. That’s a good way to get Google’s attention, but it certainly is not a bulletproof way to get the feature back. In the end, Google will have to make that call.