As many of you, I have been mostly impatient when it comes to getting Ice Cream Sandwich on my phone. I own a Samsung Galaxy S II so you can imagine my stunned reaction when we learned that Sammy has been hard at work skinning Android 4.0 with Touch Wiz. Android 4.0 is a thing of beauty and I cannot understand why any manufacturer would mess with it but then again we should come to expect this if we are not owners of a Nexus device.
Two months ago when Ice Cream Sandwich was showcased for us all, Matias Duarte was giddy as a kid in a candy store and I mean who can blame him? ICS is a masterpiece so he should be proud of it. What has surprised me is his overall acceptance of manufacturers in my opinion destroying ICS by overlaying Touch Wiz, moto Blur etc.
During a Google plus hangout, Mr Duarte basically made it known he is for the most part ok with what Samsung is doing because of the Nexus program and the fact that people who want the pure Android experience can go with a Nexus Device. Well guess what? I want the pure Android experience Mr Duarte, but unfortunately when I was shopping for a new phone the Galaxy S II was the best device on the market at the time; and I am not knocking the SGS2 I actually love my phone. I do however want pure Android 4.0 on it as well and I think we should have that option.
Mr Duarte mentioned during that hangout that Asus’s custom skin they’ve added on top of Android 3.0 on the Transformer Prime is much less than has been added in the past. He went on to mention that ASUS even added an option to disable all manufactures customizations, which will give the user the option of that pure Android experience.
I am somewhat disappointed that Matias is not more upset about this whole situation. I also wish I could have been in this hangout as it would have been an interesting one for sure.
Now for your reading pleasure, here is the transcript of Matias Duarte’s response to this question from the hangout: “So much work goes into producing the UI and the changes that you make, and then typically what happens is that the OEM’s put their skins on it and put their own touch. Does it bother you that so much work goes into it and in the end, a lot of consumers don’t interact with the UI as you intended it?”
Well, it would bother me more if we didn’t have programs like the Nexus program. The idea behind the Nexus device is to do exactly that – to give consumers an option to use the baseline work that we do if they choose…the philosophy of Android, the idea that partners can customize Android if they want to, is really important to making Android successful.
I think as we see more and more of the basic UI, the basic operating system – the home screen, the notifications system – kind of meet all of the needs that the customers want, you’ll see that OEM’s invest less time trying to fill in the features maybe that were missing there and more time adding completely new features to differentiate each other. Or taking the baseline Android experience and trying to transform it to create something completely different that is more of a niche product like the Kindle Fire.
And I think that’s good; I’m excited for that future. i hope that with Ice Cream Sandwich, we’ve done a lot to deliver that baseline so that OEM’s are going to feel less like they need to fill in the holes that Android left behind and actually focus on adding value…I think with the new Asus Transformer [Prime], you’ll see that the level of customization they’ve provided on top of the base Android is much less than has been provided in the past. In fact, they even allow you to turn off all of their customizations and revert to the stock Honeycomb UI, which I think is a really cool development, too.
We always look at whatever [manufacturers] launch but we have to kind of keep ourselves very firewalled. We don’t want to show them what we’re doing before it’s ready and they don’t want to show us what they’re working on before it’s ready. It’s really important for the community to kind of have an even playing field. [Ed. note - that will become critical if the Motorola acquisition is approved]
Individual designers, product managers, and engineers maybe follow one particular mod or OEM more than others, so that becomes part of the gestalt of different ideas that are out there.
It’s always exciting to see when somebody does something really cool, really interesting, and really different. One of the designs practices that we have is that when you start a new design problem, stop and think, “Ok what’s the obvious way to do this?” And then just challenge designers and engineers to say, “Ok, technology aside – assuming that there’s no limit – what would be the coolest way to do this? What would the most compelling, fastest way to do this?” And let’s see what that would look like the way that nobody else has done this before and then let’s see how close we can get to that.
Did you hear that Samsung? how about an option to disable Touch wiz! what a genius idea, Give the user the choice. But we all know all to well that most manufacturers believe their customization of Android OS is a good thing and offers a better user experience. Well just maybe for a new Android user who doesn’t know any better that is fine. The rest of us however are not fine, Give us our 100% pure Android and give it up now!