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What is this white stuff on my icons and how do I get rid of it?

What's the most noticable change when you jump from Android Nougat to Android Oreo? It's not the emoji, and it's not the not the snazzy new notifications. It's all the white space that invades your app drawer with Adaptive icons. Adaptive icons have a lot of potential to jazz up our app drawers while keeping things consistent and beautiful, but that's not happening until app developers update their icons to the new standards. That includes a lot of Google apps, which are currently legacy icons on white backgrounds, or just plain legacy icons.

Until that happens, though, we don't have to be stuck with a bunch of white on our app icons. This is Android, after all. When we don't like an app icon, we change it!

Now, there's a few ways to go about getting rid of this white space. Unfortunately, they all start the same way: switching to another launcher. Switching to a launcher that doesn't support Adaptive icons, does support icon packs, or features flexibility in deploying Adaptive icons gives us options to get rid of that white space.

Find a new home screen with our Best Launchers guide

Adapt your backgrounds

Nova Launcher uses the same method behind their color-matching notification badges to tint the background of legacy icons to better match their icons, and for some large square icons, Nova will simply enlarge the icon to fill the Adaptive icon mask entirely. This is a good method if you want the uniform shape that Adaptive icons provide while getting rid of the garish white. It is worth noting that this will not work for all apps, as a number of Google apps use Adaptive icons that are their traditional logo on a white background.

Some launchers allow you to disable adaptive icon masks for the entire app drawer, or at least for unthemed icons. Action Launcher currently does this best, allowing you to keep adaptive icons that work properly while stripping your white backgrounds. They also have their own proprietary Adaptive icon pack just for their launcher that adds Adaptive icons for the most popular third-party apps. The pack, called AdaptivePack is still very young, but it's growing.

Ombre

Forgoing adaptive Icons completely, you can instead turn to what we used before Adaptive icons came about this year: icon packs. There are plenty of icon packs out there that will make all your icons the same shape, be it a circle, square, or even unique shapes like the docked icons in Ombre. Icon packs are compatible with more launchers than Adaptive icons right now and compatible with more versions of Android, too. Icon packs with good masks, good icon selection, and most importantly good taste are some of the easiest purchases I make on Android, and I come back to them time and time again.

Will Adaptive icons improve with time? Well, we can only hope. Until they do, however, there's nothing wrong with finding ways to get ugly white adaptive icon backgrounds out of our app drawers and our home screens.

Ara Wagoner was a staff writer at Android Central. She themes phones and pokes YouTube Music with a stick. When she's not writing about cases, Chromebooks, or customization, she's wandering around Walt Disney World. If you see her without headphones, RUN. You can follow her on Twitter at @arawagco.

19 Comments
  • This is the feature I'm most interested in for Android Oreo. Drives me crazy how few apps support it, I've had to resort to using custom icons.
  • As a custom icon user for so much of my Android life, welcome to the club! Icon packs open up so many wonderful possibilities.
  • Haha Nova is the answer to EVERYTHING Android related.
  • It is the duct tape of the Android world. Well, maybe that's just for me, since I'm a themer. SUBGRID POSITIONING FOR LIFE!
  • Certainly everything Android launcher related, there a lot of stuff it unfortunately can't touch.
  • How?
    It just offers which shape to use...
  • Thank God for Nova Launcher. I like playing the guitar but that does mean I want to have my guitar picks litter my screen. It works be great if Google had some customizability allowing for colour pick for back ground or choice of some kind. White just sucks for a bg of any kind.
  • Racist !!!!
  • Really? Hehe Umm no.. Do you like bright backgrounds on your phone? I like my phones in night mode.
  • Sounds like your phone has a medical issue and should probably see a doctor to me. Lol
  • All/most of my app icons from Google are circular, and I don't mind the white. I think back when I set up the phone it might have given me an option to change the shape, but that doesn't bother me as much as the icons from Google not being uniform in shape.
  • If you're using the Pixel launcher, you an just go into the launcher properties and set the icons shape to "System default" to keep them mostly white-free.
  • Sense FTW
  • This is why I created suggestions for both developers and users, to avoid using these white, useless backgrounds of icons:
    https://issuetracker.google.com/issues/65402320
    https://issuetracker.google.com/issues/65117871
  • I still don't get people hatred for white, aside from OLED users looking to maximize battery life.
  • i use #ActionLauncher to edit all my icons to custom ones i download n edit... wish i could show em here!
  • WAIT WAIT WAIT.....
    To get ride of the white, they don't all start the same way. I'm guessing the writer of this article has not owned the LG V series phones. All they take is a icon pack download. And the launcher still stays LG's User Interface.
  • Do LGs Launcher's accept Google Play icon packs? Because most manufacturer icon packs I've seen (HTC and Samsung) feature a few good icons and an ugly mask.
  • I'm the guy who notices a clock bouncing back and forth by five minutes in a movie - and it bugs the $h!t outta me - but the whole app icon thing? I just don't understand the problem.