Last Updated: September 3rd, 2011

This is the latest in our Weekend Poll series. For last week's, see Google Doesn't Allow Rooted Devices To Use Android Movies - What Are Your Thoughts?

Manufacturer user interfaces (UIs) can be a bit of a hot-button topic in the Android world. Some prefer vanilla Android, à la CyanogenMod. Others have no issue with them whatsoever, and even actively seek to restore some of the functionality. (Others still prefer to roll their own, or like the ability to switch at will... but I digress.) Further, your feelings on manufacturer UIs may depend on which manufacturer and which UI we're talking about.

With all that in mind, how do you feel about manufacturer UIs? I don't really need to tell you to sound off below, and drop a line in the comments to elaborate, do I? Didn't think so.

How do you feel about manufacturer UIs?

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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.

  • wirbly

    It's not so much that the UIs are bad (though some are) but more that introducing the extra layer seems to always include gotchas with software compatibility. There are still tons of "won't work with HTC Sense" etc. on the market. This of course adds fuel to the fragmentation issue.

    • BobbyPhoenix

      I agree. Especially with the fragmentation. I think before Google release a new OS they should first give it to all manufacturers to make sure it works with all their UIs. Even before the first release is out there. If they don't play well together then the manufacturer should remove the UI as the OS is more important than any overlay. The thing that gets me is why are manufacturer's UIs so complicated? I mean take LauncherProPlus. It's an overlay, but as soon as a new OS is released there is no issues with it. The launcher just works, along with all the widgets, and if there is a hiccup with it, the Dev fixes it ASAP instead of months (if not years) for manufacturers.

  • Noel

    I prefer the pure virgin vanilla Android experience...i just wish we had the option to install them ourselves or the option to turn them off. Some of the manufacturer UIs are cool like HTC Sense...it has some cool stuff but there are time u wud like to turn it off and just enjoy the pure Android experience. Would be cool if they can give us that option

  • Guesty McGuesterson

    I always replace them so it's not something I really think about but if I was forced to use one I'd certainly stick with Sense.

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

    Like: Sense

    Dislike: Motoblur, TouchWiz

    Don't care: Rachael

    Don't really have familiarity with too many others.

  • Leonid

    Hate them.
    The poll lacks a "What is a manufacturer ui?" option, which would probably cover 90% of total Android users population.
    And, needless to say, the poll on the site for Android enthusiasts doesn't mean almost anything. It's not like you could point to it and say: "Stop doing that, your customers actually don't like those".

    • Aaron Gingrich

      "Needless to say" is quite right, since A) I'm aware this is not a neutral source of data (and I've said as much in previous polls) and B) we're not claiming to be conducting market research here or using the results for any purpose other than to satisfy curiosity.

    • Jaymoon

      That's what always bugged me whenever Apple die hards were discussing Android...

      They would more often than not discuss issues from the perspective of Average Joe Blow. They would put down Android, or functionality in Android because their grandma, or parents, or whoever wouldn't be able to figure it out.

      Really? It's my phone. If I want to discuss an issue, I'm commenting/voting/whatever regarding my experience with the phone. Not what my neighbor thinks about it.

      Who cares if most people don't understand what a custom manufacturer UI is? If you don't, don't vote.

    • Bigtexatx

      I think 90% is too high. I think 50% of all Android users is too high. Some people seek out devices with sense.

      • Leonid

        I can't back up the numbers, but I think 50% of Android users don't know what is "Android", let alone "manufacturer UIs".
        A couple of days ago I spotted a Galaxy S on my coworker's desk. I asked him about it and got a blank stare in response. I was simply amazed -- he's a fellow low-level linux developer, so he's obviously technically savvy. He's just not a geek and he doesn't care about such stuff. He just got a phone that was marginally cheaper than an iphone and had a nice screen.

      • JayMonster

        "Some" people... yes. And some like it without even knowing it is sense. But as the Android market grows bigger and bigger, the numbers are almost certainly closer to Leonid's 90% than your sub 50%.

        To most people a phone is just a phone (even an Android phone), and as long as it does what they want and it "looks cool" that is all they need to know.

    • Adrian

      I don't think that's true, certainly in the UK, the phones are marketed as "With Android and HTC Sense!"

  • Brazilian Rider

    I've been using stock from the get-go. My first soiree into the Android platform was my G2, and now I'm rocking a G2x and can't stand my friends'/families' Sense UI...

  • https://steamcommunity.com/id/m-p-3 m-p{3}

    This is the main reason I stopped my choice on the Nexus S. I wanted a pure Android system out of the box.

  • StevenM

    personally, I'd say that Google needs to stamp out custom UIs, in order to speed up OS updates. so, in my view, carriers/manufacturers could add *only* customs apps and/or launchers.

    but I do realise that vanilla Android is woefully lacking in so many respects (& this comes from a fairly pleased Nexus S owner) - such that it seems Google actually likes making a rather half-baked OS that others can then improve.

    It's not good enough, tho. and it's a broken system. i get the nasty feeling that my Nexus S is not going to get two full years of solid OS updates (which is what an iPhone can get - the 3GS will get most iOS 5 features on day one).

    so, in summary, death to custom UIs, for the sake of the whole platform.

  • Skitchbeatz

    Touchwiz > All others. AOSP is so stale and lacking in comparison. Especially pre gingerbread

    • Milad

      Can you even compare the touch Wiz to htc Sense 3.0 ? if you do , the sense will blow touchwIz ;)

      • skitchbeatz

        Not many people will go to bat for Touchwiz but it adds just enough without getting in the way (dropdown widgets/controls, lockscreen shortcuts, divx, swype, task manager, swiping in contacts and more)

        Personally, sense is a bit ugly to me. The greys they use seem a bit dated. I will admit to only using it on an Incredible so I haven't used the newest version.

  • FormerlyUncool

    I prefer vanilla myself, but the biggest complaint I have with manufacturer UIs is that there are no officially supported means by which to remove them. It's not an android experience...it's THEIR experience.

    I'd prefer if manufactures just stuck to apps and widgets to create/replicate some of the functionality they try to force on users through their UIs. At least then is would be a choice, and manufacturers could earn a little extra profit from market sales.

  • Matt

    At least most manufacturer UIs add some functionality, unlike most of the network overlays that seem to do very little other than slow things down and hit the battery....that's why I didn't get my Desire HD direct from Vodafone butwent to an independent retailer.

  • Nene150

    there are some factors of manufactures ui that i like and some that i dont . i personally have a samsung epic 4g. im running adw launcher cause i dislike touchwiz. but i do like how it comes with the built in task manager plus the power controls in the notification bar. i cant go with out it now. now ive used HTC phones and i dont think sense is a bad UI at all but there is the factor that it causes fragmentation. ive never used blur so im not going to comment on it. well what it comes down to is that manufacturers should give the option of picking and choosing what the customer wants on therer phones with out having to root

  • Seth

    Maybe if the Manufacturer UI's didn't also come with so much unremovable junk I'd give them more of a chance. I was ok with Sense until I tried CM7, now I don't think I'd be happy stuck with Sense.

  • Marc

    I have enjoyed sense from time to time, and I think I could live with touchwiz, I just wish they could be more easily turned off.

  • Jaymoon

    I see the need for the manufactures to create something that "separates them from the rest", but the custom UI really does hold Android updates back.

    When Microsoft pushes out updates to Windows, Dell, HP, and so forth don't hold them back because it *could* conflict with their custom additions. Nor does Verizon, Comcast, or any other ISP prevent you from updating over their network because of "compatibility" issues.

    Just slap Android onto your device, and allow it to update along with all the others.

    I guess the updating issue is for another poll discussion on another day... ;)

    • JayMonster

      Considering that Microsoft had seemed to have some issues" directly" updating their phones ( bricked Samsung WP7 anyone?) They might not be the best example.

  • jack

    Just to let you guys know... I root and use launcherpro myself... And i hate all manufacturers ui... Its all crappy amateur work.
    Anyway, even people that are not rooted can easily change their launcher... Just install another launcher from market, once installed, press "home".

  • David

    I wish manufacturers/telecoms would offer the UI's as flashable overlays. Go into a store, have them flash the UI overlay, but only if you want it. I am sure many would ask for it, as 95% of the public choose not the root their phones. But I would pay $10 or $20 extra to have it without the UI overlay from the start. They could make money off of it either way, and make all of their customers happy with whatever they choose.

  • Milad

    Love htc sense but still would prefer to turn it off sometimes easily :)

  • slmd2g

    If Android's default UI was better - we wouldn't need these replacements.. Google needs to invest heavy in UI and better experiences with default apps. Honeycomb is "OK" but it needs to be faster, cleaner, and easier for the first time user to dive into.

  • http://fc1032.blogspot.com Brian

    hmmmm, my first Android phone was Nexus one. I held out for around 4 months before going to custom ROMs.

    Stock is fast and stuff, but its a little TOO bare. E.g, the music player isn't good looking, the camera lacks functionality and the stock apps don't seem to have a similar design scheme (well at least now the music app and gallery does)

    Manufacturer UI's, some go too far, some are nice. Sense seems a little too overdone in some cases, Touchwiz isn't too obtrusive but added functionality.

    Probably best option is an on off switch :p

  • richardyarrell


  • JayMonster

    I don't hate the UIs in general and understand why the manufacturers want to use them. In some ways it makes my life easier. For example, I would never consider a phone that had the Apple wanna- be interface, TouchWiz, so that quickly eliminates virtually all Samsung devices for me, and LG had taken the crown for Pre- school looks... do already i am down to Motorola and HTC.

    The part that confuses me however is how these companies can invest so much I'm these interfaces and still come away with products with such poor designs and memory issues! How do they not pay attention to how much memory they are using, how many items they are forcing to load into memory or how pathetically poor their launchers are, compared with one's work by one man shops. Are you telling me that not one of them cam find a programmer or two that is a good as the golf that write LauncherPro, ADW or Go? Really? Where the hell are they bring their talent from... former Windows Mobile interface designers?

  • Chris

    Why don't they just have a setup option when you first turn the phone on that says "Our Custom brain dead UI" or "Stock Android UI". Simple. And make the bloatware removable as well. Then we would all be happy.

    • JayMonster

      Bloatware is courtesy of the carriers and they are paid to have it be not removable.

  • http://www.pharmaland.ca Pharmaceutical packaging processing machine manufacturer

    Thanks for the excellent contribution to the discussion.

  • Mgamerz

    Motoblur can go die in a fire. The ONLY thing I like about it is the picture sync with facebook. No more manually adding photos. Everything else about it sucks.
    Not to mention they force you to use it with their bootloaders. It's like 'hey, our software sucks, but we make it, so we are going to force you to use it!'

  • L boogie

    Can't speak for touchwiz, never used until the galaxy s 2 or 3 enters the stage, lg not sure what they call it, motoblur (or whatever it would be)should be condemned to the eleventh circle of hell and sense close to actual functionality..... then add the carriers & their bloatware delights and we have a nice fragmentation recipe..... future devices should be equipped with the option to choose pure vanilla android or custom UI and zero bloatware for that deluxe android experience... just saying

  • Mesmorino

    I think I'm a bit different in that I actually got to like HTC before liking android... my first smartphone was the HTC HD2, then i got the Desire HD. Sense is the only UI I've ever used and I like it. While I'm open to trying something else, it would need to do pretty much everything Sense already does for it to last long with me.

  • Pasi

    I'm quite a big fan of HTC Sense and I never cared about TouchWiz or Motoblur or any other custom UI as I find them nothing close to Sense, but the fact is that Google simply suck at design! I had the Nexus One for a couple of months before I replaced it with the HTC Desire HD and I must say that there were many areas of the stock Android UI that were pure horror to the eyes on the Nexus One; especially the music player, the app I use the most on a daily basis. If Google changed a bit their "we are developers we couldn't care less for eye candy" attitude I would be more than happy to say goodbye to my Sense UI...but until that happens I'd rather stick to it.

  • bobomb

    Love me some Sense. While not perfect as a company, I also love me some HTC. One of the most progressive, innovative, forward-thinking companies out there IMO.

  • Ruperto

    I've been using vanilla android since its existence and I just recently got the htc sensation with Sense 3.0. I must say I very impressed. Once you install the Launcher of your choice, Sense does a good job at filling in the gaps left by stock android, adding some eye candy in the process. The only negative is that it's not as fast as stock android.. even with a dual core processor.