Last Updated: December 3rd, 2010

Word on the street (and by “the street,” I clearly mean TechCrunch) is that the next version of Android, (Gingerbread, which is rumored to be coming in 4Q2010), will focus on refining the UI. It may seem like a waste of time, as most Android phones today run a custom UI (HTC, Motorola, etc) – but that’s just the point. By stepping up the default UI, handset makers (hopefully) won’t feel the need to layer on their UIs.

As things stand now, proprietary UIs mean handset makers have to modify the stock Android build, test the build, fix bugs, and retest before finally pushing the build out as an update in order to keep the UI. As a result, we (the consumers) wait longer to receive updates, and manufacturers have to put a huge amount of resources (time, employees, etc.) into tweaking.


Obviously, as an Android user, I’m a fan of Google, and this is exactly why. Clearly, they have the end user in mind, rather than their own agendas or vendettas. Props, Google. We appreciate it.

Source: TechCrunch

Aaron Gingrich
Aaron is a geek who has always had a passion for technology. When not working or writing, he can be found spending time with his family, playing a game, or watching a movie.

  • http://www.AndroidPolice.com Artem Russakovskii

    I think for an average consumer the UI is still too complicated or confusing sometimes, and this is a more important reason to solve the UI issues than helping out manufacturers.

  • Matt

    Anything that stops HTC mucking about with it. I'm really disappointed with Sense on my Desire. Sure, the Flickr integration and Facebook integration is nice, but Twitter have shown that you can provide that with third-party apps. Sense's native applications are just not-Androidy enough to be jarring, and the Calendar app is a serious disimprovement compared to the normal one.

    Mumble moan. Maybe I should try and find a non-Sense Desire ROM.

  • Aaron Gingrich

    I like sense, but I'd have to agree that it adds an extra level of complexity (and bloatware/duplication).

  • HDC

    I wonder if the recent Bumptop acquisition will come to fruition in this effort. It was a neat bit of kit with potential for more.

    • http://www.androidpolice.com Andrew Huff

      That's exactly what I'm wondering. I find it highly coincidental that they acquire Bumptop and then shortly after this is coming to light.

      Bumptop is awesome too and a mobile version of that with Android would be so nice.

    • Aaron Gingrich

      I hope so too, but I'm not sure that they'll be able to deliver a solid 3D desktop (sorry - phonetop?) experience on current hardware by late this year. I'm just not sure if they'll have time to optimize the hardware so that everything runs smoothly and without lag.

  • TedJ

    I don't think this will discourage manufacturers from persisting with their custom UI's - as it stands, it's the only real way they have to differentiate their products from the (Android) competition.

    • http://www.AndroidPolice.com Artem Russakovskii

      I agree, but I think a bunch of common elements can be rolled into Android core and simplify custom UIs, so that they can be rolled out faster.

    • Jack

      That depends upon whether Google mandates a lockdown for more control over the experience, sort of like Microsoft has done with Windows Phone 7.

      • Aaron Gingrich

        I don't see that happening, given the nature of Android (open source) and the mantra that goes with it. They don't have the app market locked down. They more or less don't have the phone locked down. Why would they lock down the UI all of a sudden?

        • http://www.AndroidPolice.com Artem Russakovskii

          I think they may still control some APIs, like the inability to change/touch the top right part of the notification bar but I don't think they will lock down anything already not locked down. That would break compatibility and go against all their principles.

    • the Goat

      The manufacturers could compete by producing more/less powerful devices. They could compete by releasing OS updates for their devices sooner/later. They could compete by releasing devices with more/less extra (hardware) features (physical keyboard, front facing camera, etc.). they could compete by releasing devices with longer/shorter battery life. They could compete by releasing devices with different sizes. They could compete by . . .

      Putting a skin on top of the UI is not where I want device manufacturer to compete. Produce the best hardware and I will buy your device.

  • jaam

    They seriously need to look at some of the stuff that is out there and the work done by developers and mods (especially Cyanogen and crew). A lot of their ROMs contain some really awesome tweaks that improve features and functionality as sometimes the look of Android. THere are a lot of ideas out there that are current apps that Android should look at incorporating i.e. ADW Launcher - its better than Android's clunky attempt.

  • ps

    yeah, in all honesty, both the fundamentals and the visuals of android are off. google maybe have great engineers, but they have ZERO designers (or, zero skilled ones). this will be google's downfall in all of it's products. and, i am not talking about the "primary color" google aesthetic - that is nice. just good information design is totally absent, and the user experience is bad.

    i mean, hiding functionality in an invisible option menu is just fundamentally a bad idea. and long presses? come on. all examples of engineers making a aUI for other engineers. not for real people.

    bumptop is a bad joke. i hope they bought that to kill it. it is supremely moronic, and totally useless, especially in a mobile context. it may have made for a nice demo talk, but wow, what crap. the world needs far less gimmicks, and more usefulness.