Android

Here’s why you can’t disable Adaptive Icons in Android Oreo

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Android 8 Oreo is far from a revolutionary OS that brings your wildest fantasies about future tech to life. In fact, Google focuses on the back-end here. Most changes were made under the hood, so an average user coming from Android Nougat can barely see the difference.

That’s why users who care about their phones debate about some ‘less important’ features way more than they would if there were some game-changers involved.

A particular feature that people usually complain about is the Adaptive Icons. In fact, I’ve barely seen a positive review of this feature. This tells us one thing. Android Oreo users are divided into two groups – those who hate Adaptive Icons and those who simply don’t care enough to talk about them.

Since the second group probably won’t even bother to search for this article, it’s for all of you who have a feud with Adaptive Icons in Android Oreo. For all of you who are frustrated for being trapped with Adaptive Icons and don’t really get why it has to be that way.

We’ll discuss it all here.

Why are Adaptive Icons there in the first place?

Unlike iOS, where Apple pretty much controls the whole ecosystem, Android (being an open source OS) gives each member of its family more liberties. Individually, that’s a great thing. But it may not be beneficial for the greater good.

Developers have the freedom to polish every single aspect of their apps to smallest details. Both in terms of aesthetics and functionality. But we’ll focus on the aesthetics here. Subjectively looking, even though a single app’s icon looks great, it may not fit in with the rest of the icons, giving your home screen an awkward uniquely biased look.

These inconsistencies usually irritate people. In fact, people have been complaining about this since the earliest days of Android. And the fact that different phones all have their own custom ROM brings even more inequality.

So, Google decided to normalize things by trying to satisfy everyone’s taste. That’s how the idea of the Adaptive Icons was born. In theory, the whole plan looks legit and doable. But the result we got with Android Oreo speaks differently.

What are Adaptive Icons

The biggest misconception people have about Adaptive Icons is that it’s a launcher or appearance customization feature. That’s not true. Adaptive Icons is a system feature that should make third-party apps’ icons in-line with default icons provided by OEM.

I won’t dig into technical details too much here, so here’s how Google explainsAdaptive Icons:

“Android 8.0 (API level 26) introduces adaptive launcher icons, which can display a variety of shapes across different device models. For example, an adaptive launcher icon can display a circular shape on one OEM device, and display a squircle on another device. Each device OEM provides a mask, which the system then uses to render all adaptive icons with the same shape. Adaptive launcher icons are also used in shortcuts, the Settings app, sharing dialogs, and the overview screen.”

In order to follow Google’s rules of Adaptive Icons developers have to submit their icons in two layers, a transparent foreground layer and a solid background layer. As explained above, the launcher then cuts the layers into a shape specified by OEM.

As the OS uses an already provided mask to shape the icons automatically, there’s nothing you can do about it. Even though you’re not satisfied with the outcome. It’s just how the system works.

Now you know that as long as you’re using Android Oreo, Adaptive Icons will be there. You can’t simply erase them from your phone in any way. But, there’s a way to at least change the appearance of Adaptive Icons on your phone.

Obviously, this can’t be done using your stock launcher, but if you really can’t stand the current look of Adaptive Icons on your phone, there’s a third-party solution.

Use Nova Launcher

Nova Launcher is arguably the most popular third-party launcher for Android. Mostly because of its wealth of customization features. This includes the ability to change the shape of Adaptive Icons, which was introduced last year.

So, if you want to at least do something about your ugly adaptive icons, you can change their shape. I know it’s not what you’re looking for, but it gives you some customization freedom. Here’s how to change Adaptive Icons in Nova Launcher:

  1. Open Nova Launcher Settings.
  2. Go to Look & Feel Adaptive Icons.
  3. Choose the preffered shape of Adaptive Icons.

That’s about it. It is a bare minimum, but at least you’re able to adjust the icons to a more likable shape. That’s better than not being able to do anything about Adaptive Icons at all.

As it appears, Google still hasn’t solved the problem with unbiased icons on various Android phones. But we have another Android version ahead of us. As we still don’t know what will the new version bring, we can only hope Google will introduce a more viable solution for icons on your Home screen. Hopefully a better one.

What do you think about Adaptive Icons in Android Oreo and the way they function? Let us know in the comments below.

#android oreo

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27 thoughts on “Here’s why you can’t disable Adaptive Icons in Android Oreo”

  1. I absolutely hate this feature! Thank you Google, for shoving it down or throats (i guess you did learn something from Apple) and making every Android device look like a cheap iPhone ripoff.

    Reply
  2. I hate adaptive icons. Here’s why: The purpose of an icon is something visual for your brain to easily identify amongst a bunch of other icons. The brain has a couple things to work with: Shape and color. Making every icon have the same outline shape essentially cuts the information available in half, making it take much more effort to find the one icon you’re looking for amongst many. It’s an increased cognitive load to have every icon have the same shape, and it goes against the very purpose of icons.

    Reply
    • Exactly. But the information is cut even more! The actual icon itself is much smaller – doesn’t usually even fill the circle, so that in difficult times – outside, bright sun, forgot glasses, – it gets even more difficult to find the icon you are looking for.

      Reply
  3. I don’t care if they add a “feature” like this long as I can TURN IT OFF. Options are good arbitrary decisions I have no say in are not. Like whoever decided “blind white” should be a color in every inch of the screen, on devices where white drains the most power.

    I don’t really care about the shape, it’s the SOLID WHITE that irritates. I bought a OnePlus specifically cause it’s menus are black, I’ve bought icon packs I like, and I’ve got a dark ecosystem (other than the damn notifications which turned to white from black two versions ago). but now on my dark phone with a dark wallpaper and dark icons are these garish B.S. white borders. Someone else’s aesthetic shouldn’t be able to cause others actual pain, which is what BLIND WHITE causes in those of us with resident migraines or light sensitivity or who ever use a phone in a dark room.

    How do I change the COLOR of the things? how do I get usage back out of icons with transparency? Who at Google can I kick in the nuts to get the point across?

    Reply
  4. “That’s better than not being able to do anything about Adaptive Icons at all.”

    No. No that’s not better that not being able to do anything, that is the same as not being able to do anything. I’m still stuck with the fucking migraine inducing white background, and no amount of shape changing will fix that.

    Reply
  5. Just got a new phone today. First thing I noticed is all my icons are shrunk with ugly white space around them. At first I thought it was a manufacturer mod. But reading this I find it’s Google fault. How disappointing. What were they thinking!? I can’t wait till it’s out of warranty and I can put a custom ROM on to get rid of this rubbish.

    Reply
  6. I originally switched to Nova Launcher because it was the only way to not waste real-estate on that stupid search bar. That’s no longer true, but Nova remains just a little better than the competition — with features like this one. Every time I get a new device, I experiment with the native launcher, but never see any reason to give up Nova.

    Reply
  7. White circles look like crap AND make it harder to quickly identify the icon you are looking for. My Color Notes icon was a simple yellow envelope that was easily noticed. Now I have to really look thru the stupid icons. DUMB MOVE

    Reply
  8. I hate the fact I have to check all my settings after this update, many still now don’t work properly, and now I hate the fact I cannot change the shape of these dreadful icons, uniformity of which make it it hard to spot the one I want. Though my phone does give me options to BUY (equally horrid) styles from totally unknown sources. Is it possible to revert to previous version?

    Reply
  9. I just made the mistake of upgrading from Android 7 to 8 on a new phone and I’m really sorry I did, the new icons look ABSOLUTE SH-T. I want to factory reset because it looks so crap. How is it humanly possible that we’re creating such utter trash in 2018. I have been in the industry since the 90’s and already then we had some really beautiful UIs on other OS. We’re going backwards.

    Reply
    • Don’t factory reset! You can live with ugly icons — and Orea is really, *really* much better. Support for third party password managers. Preventing poorly-written apps from draining your battery (I hope this works against Google News!). It even seems to have shrunk some of my more bloated apps.

      Reply
  10. When they’re uniform, I can’t easily distinguish between them. Shapes help differentiate between apps. I’m so happy I could enable legacy shapes. Yessssss!

    Reply
  11. Sign me up in the non-existent group that likes adaptive icons. I am looking forward to apps being forced onto Oreo in November so that my home screen can finally look neat and tidy.

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  12. I like the idea of adaptive icons, but google should polish the icons of its own apps. I have samsung phone, and they only put white background around old icons – it looks awfull, especially on home screen.

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  13. Thanks dy for the tip! Doesn’t work for all icons (especially Google’s own calendar, sigh) but does improve matters. I never minded the different icons, made stuff easier to find! I really can’t understand some of the decisions Google and Apple have made recently, just bad OS updates and ideas for ideas sake. /rant

    Reply
  14. You can just enable Labs in Nova by holding down Vol – while in the settings main page, then a new option, “Prefer legacy icons” will appear inside the Adaptive icons style settings

    It does exactly what you want, unless the app dev puts a pseudo-adaptive icons there

    Reply

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