Substratum is a popular theme platform for Android and you can apply themes to your Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL without needing root access.
Early last month I wrote a guide on how to install Substratum themes on any Oreo device. Now, if you have root access to said Oreo device then the process is the same as it’s always been. However, this guide was special since it allowed you to apply themes on Android without requiring root access. Instead, you were required to install a special plugin application from the Play Store along with extracting some easy tools on the desktop to get it working.
Since the Pixel 2 and the Pixel 2 XL ship with Oreo, this whole process can be applied to Google’s latest two flagship smartphones. So today I’ll be doing a refresher course on how to setup Substratum and Andromeda on the Pixel 2 phones and providing the links you need to download the tools onto your computer. The process is very quick once you have everything installed and you can follow along with the quick video that I embedded down below.
Pixel 2 Install Substratum Themes
- Enable Developer Mode on the Pixel 2
- Enable USB Debugging Mode on the Pixel 2
- Install the Substratum application
- Install the Andromeda application
- Download and extract the desktop tools (Windows – macOS – Linux)
- Connect the USB cable from the PC to the Pixel 2
- Launch the Substratum application
- Bypass intro, wait for the Check Status button to appear, then tap it
- The status prompt should be red and say disconnected
- Double click the .BAT/script file extracted with the desktop tools (for windows)
- Press any key on the keyboard
- Grant USB Debugging access (if requested)
- Wait for the Substratum application to close and then open up again
- Now apply your favorite Oreo/Pixel 2 theme like normal
This step by step tutorial is a detailed explanation of a topic I covered on my Pixel 2 Tips and Tricks article. I recommend you read through that if you're curious about learning the ins and outs of the Pixel 2 or Pixel 2 XL.
So again, if you have ever used Substratum on another Android 8.x Oreo device then the same steps apply for the Pixel 2 and the Pixel 2 XL. The only difference will be whether or not your favorite Substratum theme actually supports it. I tried applying Swift Dark right when my Pixel 2 XL arrived and it wasn’t theming parts of the Settings application correctly. This is definitely due to the developer needing to make changes (which they may have already done by now) but everything works as it should.
To start, you will want to enable Developer Mode on the Pixel 2 so that you can then go into that hidden menu and enable USB Debugging Mode. This is required in order for the desktop tools to execute a few permission commands so that the Substratum theme works as it should. With that done go ahead and download both Substratum and Andromeda from the Play Store and then download the desktop tools for your particular desktop operating system.
We can then attach the USB cable from the computer to the Pixel 2 or Pixel 2 XL and fire up the Substratum application on the phone. If this is your first time launching it then you’ll be greeted with some introductory steps that you can skip through or read. With those out of the way you should see Substratum detect you’re on Oreo and that you have the Andromeda application installed. If everything is setup properly then you should see a check status button.
Tap the Check Status button and another prompt will appear. The prompt should be Red and it should be telling you that the connected is disconnected (even though we have the USB cable plugged in). This will continue to be this way until we complete the next couple of steps. You will then need to run the .BAT batch script file (for Windows) so it will open up a command prompt and ask if you’re ready. If you are, go ahead and press any key on the keyboard and the batch script will execute those ADB commands to set the proper permissions.
With that done, Substratum should close and open back up on its own showing you the process is completed. You’ll then be shown the theme index page where it lists all of the Substratum themes that you have installed. From here, you can apply any compatible theme you would like and it will work exactly as it always does.