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Android 3.0 to hasten the end of custom UIs?

updated 08:35 am EDT, Wed June 16, 2010

Android's Gingerbread may hurt HTC, Motorola

Google could put an end to custom Android interfaces with its next major release, sources said Wednesday. Android 3.0, also known as Gingerbread, will focus heavily on the user experience and is specifically aimed at reducing the need for layers like HTC's Sense UI or Motorola's Motoblur. As most core features were added with Android 2.2, the attention now is on having an interface with polish closer to that of the iPhone.

The insiders briefing TechCrunch on the subject didn't say what UI features would come with the upgrade, though most custom Android layers have focused on widgets or alternative apps for similar functions, like e-mail. Most of Google's changes have come through Android 2.1 and 2.2, where it added a home screen grid and later permanent shortcuts to the browser and phone functions. Other areas have received minor polish, such as a pseudo-3D gallery.

While it's doubtful Google would outright restrict custom interfaces, the move could potentially solve much of the OS fragmentation issue that plagues Android today. Proprietary interface layers have been the primary cause of OS upgrade delays as phone makers have gone several months before updating the OS or even skipped upgrades entirely because of the extra testing and compatibility problems found in Google's own updates. Despite Android 2.2 being available for the Nexus One a month ago, for example, no other Android phone currently uses it.

The uniformity of OS updates has been considered a strength for the iPhone, as it has kept virtually every device using the latest features; only iPhone 4.0 has started limiting OS releases due to hardware requirements. Android 3.0 may close this gap as it would have more phones using stock operating systems and should also reduce the dependence on core OS updates. However, it may also reduce the diversity of Android phones as companies are given fewer options for making their devices stand out.



By Electronista Staff
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Comments

  1. iphonerulez

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: Nov 2008

    +12

    That would be a move in the right direction...

    It'll probably make the geeks howl in displeasure, but it will go a long way to standardizing Android's UI for the better. At that time, each vendor will have to focus on strictly hardware features and marketing to make their particular brand stand out from the others. The standardized UI takes away a bit of the "openness" which those geeks love so much. I'm sure Even Google must realize that Android is becoming a fragmented crazy quilt of an OS even though the geeks swear it isn't happening. I'm sure in the long-term if Google is even somewhat serious about Android, they're going to have to start "closing" Android down in certain areas just to make it easier to manage.

  1. chefpastry

    Mac Enthusiast

    Joined: Nov 2005

    +13

    Commoditization

    This will hasten the commoditization of Android phones. It won't be long before the only thing all those companies that latched on to Android as their savior will have nothing to compete on except price. Fools, every one of them.

  1. Eldernorm

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: Sep 2007

    +10

    Just a thought

    iphonerulez says "While it's doubtful Google would outright restrict custom interfaces, the move could potentially solve much of the OS fragmentation issue that plagues Android today. Proprietary interface layers have been the primary cause of OS upgrade delays as phone makers have gone several months before updating the OS or even skipped upgrades entirely because of the extra testing and compatibility problems found in Google's own updates."

    --- The harder Android tries, the more like the iPhone it becomes.... Making choice between the two one of buy newest or wait a year and buy a copy of the year ago newest.

    Not much choice unless you have to use Verizon. :-)



    "Despite Android 2.2 being available for the Nexus One a month ago, for example, no other Android phone currently uses it."

    --- Er so why is Android so great. Upgrades that no one uses or can get.???

    Just a thought here. While I think Android is a great option for Verizon cause no iPhone, I have to wonder why anyone (not an Apple hater) would get one on AT&T.

    en

  1. Bobfozz

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: Jul 2008

    +10

    Google copying?

    Isn't it ironic that the "open platform" etc. is starting to make Google's work head in the direction of what Apple already has? As much as phone makers (esp. in sales in China!) try to imitate the iPhone, they want to go their own way and then find out "Geez, Apple knew what they were doing after all!" What an about face. There seems to be NO "system" for these companies. How can they differentiate?

  1. testudo

    Forum Regular

    Joined: Aug 2001

    -6

    So...

    You all criticize Android because of all the so-called fragmentation and different UIs.

    So they announce a change, and it isn't "Oh good!" but "Oh, look, they're just following Apple!" Gee, I thought they were listening to the complaints.

    And then you criticize Android because it will become one generic mass of phones using the same UI.

    Which basically means you want, say, Google to just make their own Android phone and ban it from all others, thus giving it one phone and one UI. Which then would be laughed at because they would be just copying Apple again.

  1. testudo

    Forum Regular

    Joined: Aug 2001

    -2

    Re: Commoditization

    This will hasten the commoditization of Android phones. It won't be long before the only thing all those companies that latched on to Android as their savior will have nothing to compete on except price. Fools, every one of them.

    So what is your solution? Leave the customization abilities alone? Sounds good to me, just don't start mocking Android for being so fragmented then.

  1. SockRolid

    Forum Regular

    Joined: Jan 2010

    +5

    Just like the PC market

    @chefpastry - This will hasten the commoditization of Android phones. It won't be long before the only thing all those companies that latched on to Android as their savior will have nothing to compete on except price. Fools, every one of them.

    Exactly. The only way to really leapfrog Apple in market share is to standardize the core OS plus the user-facing GUI. Fragmenting the market across many models times many versions of the core OS times different GUIs is a recipe for failure, no matter how the Android apologists try to spin it.

    Happened in the UNIX market in the 90s. Been there, saw that. Each brand fought over a tiny slice ("fragment") of their slice of the computing pie. And that's where Android is headed unless they standardize the user experience.

    But the real Android killer is just on the horizon. And it's coming from Google itself. Google has announced that their Chrome OS will be focused on web apps and web apps alone. Chrome OS is Google's future. Android is not. The Android Marketplace and whatever Android apps it contains will become obsolete when Google rolls out Chrome OS on desktops and smartphones.

    So the current fragmented Android market works to Google's advantage in the long run. They can point to the Android mess and say "Look how bad it is. What you really want is Chrome OS with nothing but web apps." Good news for Google fanboys. Android is just an interim step, albeit a fragmented one.

  1. dliup

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: Jan 2006

    +6

    Great!

    Because Google is known as the BEST GUI DESIGNER. =p

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