Custom Android Without The Custom ROM, Part 2 – Theming

Layers Manager App

Yesterday I ran through one of the ways you can root a Marshmallow-powered Nexus device, and customize your experience by blocking ads system-wide. Today we’ll tap into the power of Android 6.0 and explore a possibly better solution to CyanogenMod’s Theming engine.

I first came across the term “RRO” while investigating a custom ROM for my Lollipop-powered Nexus 6. The acronym stands for “Runtime Resource Overlay”—its a theming engine developed by SONY for their Android products. Turns out good guy SONY contributed the code back to the Android Open Source Project, and in Android 6.x RRO is supported natively. High-fives all around.

To use RRO on your Marshmallow phone or tablet you’ll need two apps from BitSyko Development: Layers Manager and Layers Showcase.

Layers Showcase App

To install an overlay—or layer—you’ll quickly find yourself here, in the Layers Showcase.

Filtering Layers

If you’re running Marshmallow it’s fairly critical to find a Marshmallow-compatible Layer. The built-in filter is your new best friend.

Inversion UI

I found a free layer called Inversion UI which, as you’d expect, replaces Android’s garish white backgrounds with a darker colour scheme.

Install Options

So installing the layer won’t actually install the layer—what I mean is, you’ll have to head back to the Layer Manager to get the overlays running on your device.

At first glance the available options might not seem as straightforward as those in your typical Cyanogen Theme, but they’re easy enough to figure out. Also, unlike a Cyanogen Theme, a reboot is required for the changes to appear.

Inversion Settings

Sooo much better…

Inversion Play Store

Cyanogen Themes can redraw AOSP apps, like the phone dialer and SMS app. But RRO Layers can do a lot more. Here’s my new murdered-out Play Store UI, as an example.

Because RRO is natively supported in Android 6.x, the overlays presumably run faster than the bolted-on Cyanogen solution. To understand more about RRO check out the links immediately below.

More on Layers/RRO: Google+, Sony Developer World

Leave a Reply