If you have a supported Android device running Android Oreo or higher, then you can install a substratum theme on it without needing root access.
Android has had various theme capabilities built into the core AOSP code base for a few releases now. This used to be called RRO but has transitioned into what is now known as OMS. This is what Layers was based on previously and is what Substratum is based on now.
Before, we needed root access in order to install a Substratum theme but with a computer and a new add-on application from the Play Store, we can do it without root access now.
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As mentioned, this method that does not require root access does mean that you have to pay for an add-on application from the Play Store. If you are on Oreo and have root access then you can use Substratum for free just as you normally would. It’s just this premium method without root access that costs money and thankfully the process is quite easy. It does require a computer and that you download a batch script for your particular operating system, but I’ll be walking you through the whole process.
Install Substratum Themes on Oreo
- Enable Developer Mode on the smartphone
- Then enable USB Debugging Mode
- Download the Andromeda Script for your PC
- Extract the contents of the ZIP file to a folder
- Download and install the Substratum application
- Download and install the Andromeda companion application
- Download a Substratum theme that supports Oreo
- Launch the Substratum application
- Tap the Check Status button that appears
- Connect a USB cable to the phone when you see the Connection Status box say it’s disconnected
- Double click the start_andromeda BAT file on the PC (other platforms will have a different filename)
- Press any key on the keyboard to continue
- Wait for the script to run its commands
- Then install your theme via the Substratum application
This is a bit of a tethered solution here because of how Google has implemented the system. So yes, we can install themes on Oreo without root access, but as we can see it does require that we are connected to a computer to install them. However, this theme is still applied even through a reboot so it’s not like we have to connect it to a PC each time you reboot the phone. However, you will need to connect it to the PC if you want to switch to another theme or if you want to install updated overlays of your current theme.
I feel this is a great solution to something that Google obviously doesn’t want us doing without root access. So to start, we need to enable USB Debugging Mode on our smartphone and to do that we need to first enable Developer Mode if you haven’t done so already. We can them download the script from XDA (most will just want to grab the Windows Batch Script, but there’s an option for macOS and Linux as well. Fans of Java can try their alpha client if you’d like.
You’ll then want to extract the contents of the ZIP file (assuming you downloaded the batch script) to the PC, and then install Substratum, Andromeda and a supported theme on your smartphone. I used Swift Dark in my demo video above, but you can use any that supports Oreo right now. Open the Substratum application and you’ll be asked to tap the Check Status button. This should bring up a red box with an X in it telling you that the connection is disconnected.
So go ahead and connect a USB cable from the PC to the smartphone and then double click the batch script file that we downloaded in Step 3 of the guide above. Press any button to continue with the batch script after the Command Prompt has been opened and you should see that red box with an X in it go away. This should then show you the regular Substratum theme page that you’re used to seeing on a rooted device. From here, you can install your Substratum theme on Oreo just like you normally would.