updated 03:26 pm EDT, Mon June 30, 2014
Android Wear, TV, Auto must use stock appearance
Android Wear, Android Auto, and Android TV will only use the stock visual style, according to a report. Google engineering director David Burke advised in an interview that third-party device producers, including LG and Samsung, would not be allowed to change the user interface at all, with Google not only controlling the overall appearance of the software, but also the underlying software.
Speaking to Ars Technica, Burke summed up the reasons behind the control involved a unified appearance across multiple platforms. "The UI is more part of the product in this case," said Burke, "We want to just have a very consistent user experience, so if you have one TV in one room and another TV in another room and they both say Android TV, we want them to work the same and look the same."
LG G Watch
While this will rule out manufacturer-created UI overlays, such as Samsung's TouchWiz and HTC's Sense interfaces used on their smartphones, there will still be some aspects they can manage. "The device manufacturers can brand it, and they might have services that they want to include with it, but otherwise it should be the same." Google will also manage software updates for these devices directly, eliminating the delays caused through manufacturers making changes, with the aim of making the updates automatic and seamless "like Chrome on the desktop" on all three products.
Manufacturers looking to offer their own Android-based experience may be out of luck if they want to stray from the new Android plan. Hardware producers doing so may have to adopt the approach taken by Samsung with the original Galaxy Gear or Amazon with its Fire TV, in making vast changes to the Android Open Source Project code, a technique that effectively avoids any benefits introduced in Android Wear and the other projects.