Are you in the market for an Android Wear smartwatch, Android Auto or Android TV demoed in Google I/O 2014? So am I. The main device I’m looking forward to is the Moto 360 [image above]. When buying an Android smartphone today, there are many options from the likes of Samsung, Sony, HTC, Huawei and much more companies however, regardless of the specs, we must also base our decision on the software loaded on the device. A Samsung smartphone for example would be running its own Android skin (Touchwiz), whereas an HTC device would be running HTC Sense.
While these all have their own features and UI apart from stock Android, they make Android on the whole seem not too standardized. Touchwiz for example has a LOT of additional features, but it can sometime have a substantial amount of lag throughout the user interface while doing simple tasks like multitasking. HTC Sense, while being snappy and responsive, includes a vertical scrolling launcher which might be difficult for normal users who don’t know about using custom launchers.
If you are one of those who are in the market for an Android Wear smartwatch, Android Auto or Android TV, you can safely make your decisions based solely on specifications. Whether you buy a Moto 360, Samsung Gear Live or LG G watch, your experience will be the same across all of these devices since Google is not allowing third party OEM skins for these devices. Meaning there will be no OEM skins on Android Wear devices.
This also goes for Android TV and Android Auto so if you have several TVs from various manufacturers running Android TV, you won’t have to learn to navigate through the basic UI every time you switch manufacturer, and the same goes for Android Auto. If your car can run Android Auto and you happen to be using another car from another manufacturer, if you plug in your device, your Android Auto experience should be the same on all.
THE GOOD NEWS
This means that Google will be releasing its updates and not rely on the OEMs, meaning that updates will be released in a timely manner across all devices just like the Nexus line up. It also means that the entire Android eco-system will be much more standardized (for these devices that is).
THE BAD NEWS
Since OEMs love putting their skin on top of Android, this might discourage some of them from manufacturing an Android Wear, or Android TV device.
THE NEUTRAL NEWS
This news might be good for some, while being bad for others. Although OEMs are not allowed to install their skin on these devices, they are however allowed to install their own apps and services onto the device. This means that if you use a Samsung device and you love a specific Touchwiz based app, you might see that application on a Samsung device running Android Wear. However, it can be bad if an OEM loads up its own apps and services until it becomes bloat on the device.
I’m glad with the way Google is rolling out Android Wear to make it a more standardized experience. With OEMs not being able to skin their version of Android Wear (and others), they will be forced to compete by offering spec bumps, high quality displays, larger batteries and more components that will result in a better experience for us the consumers.
What do you think about this? Do you think Google should allow them to skin Android? Leave your thoughts in the comments below.
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