We've all heard it time and time again: generally speaking, people hate manufacturer skins on Android phones, i.e. Blur, Touchwiz, Sense, etc. I realize that not everyone falls into this category, but I think it's probably safe to say that the bulk of Android users do. It looks like we're not the only ones that are opposed to manufactures gumming up our beloved Android with their custom overlays - Virgin Mobile, a prepaid subsidiary of Sprint, has taken a pro-stock-Android approach to all of its devices. Have a look at what a Virgin spokesperson told PCmag via email:
Android In Recent News
Fragmentation has been one of the biggest criticisms of the Android platform. Essentially, Google allows anybody to take the Android code and tweak it suit their own needs. This is how manufacturers like Motorola, HTC, and Samsung are able to create custom layers (MotoBlur, Sense UI, and TouchWiz, respectively) over the vanilla Android interface and how some carriers load up new phones with crapware. Although this is a price to pay for openness and customizability, a recent study indicates that 86% of developers are unhappy with the state of Android fragmentation (24% of them describing it as a "huge problem").
Remember Larva Labs, the Android development team behind the awesome home replacement SlideScreen? Well, they're back and working on SlideScreen 2.0, a more advanced version of the original. With 2.0 (a beta preview is now available, get it here), things have been taken up a notch. For example, developers will now be able to write plugins using an API and release them on the Android Market - which means you no longer have to wait for the Larva Labs team to add new features. According to the LL blog, the API includes support for custom shortcut activities and real time updates to SlideScreen.
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 you may have heard, LG has big plans for a little Android smartphone called Eclipse/LU2300. The company has not really done a whole lot with Android thus far, so it’s good to see them starting to make a serious smartphone that runs Android.
Two things that you will want to know, especially if you are a G1 owner and love the physical keyboard are:
- this phone includes a Snapdragon processor and
- it sports a physical keyboard
Yet Another Custom UI
However, what you will want to punch yourself in the nose about is the fact that LG seems to be yet another custom UI of their own on top of Android which looks a whole lot like the Sense UI by HTC, except it uses more fruity, psychedelic, bright colors (I believe the term for their shade of blue is "cupcake blue" or "there-goes-my-manhood-blue").