Google Is Tightening The Strings On Android Customizations

While the move will effect all of Google's hardware partners, Samsung seems to be the intended target

 

Android is the most popular mobile operating system on the planet, yet it's rather hard to find devices that run the pure version of the software. UI customizations and tweaks are abound, but if Google has its way, we could soon see a shade of uniformity across devices made by various manufacturers.

Leaked documents indicate that Google is asking its hardware partners to put its own apps and services at the front of all Android phone. The company has increased the number of Google-made apps that need to be installed on every Android device from 11 in 2011 to 20 this year.

According to Amir Efrati of The Information, Google has been "tightening the screws" for companies that make use of its Android software. The change in agreement also requires that the Google Search widget be placed on the home screen, along with the Google Play icon and a folder containing 13 other Google-made apps.

Efrati notes that one reason that Google is pushing for the change is to create a more consistent experience across devices and manufacturers. The software giant has been limiting software customization, and said, "there have been frequent fights about that, particularly between Google and Samsung."

Samsung has long provided resistance to Google taking control of the way Android looks and feels, with recent versions of its TouchWiz moving further away from pure Android. Apart from the massive UI changes, Samsung also promotes its own apps on its devices, and even has its own app store.

It hasn't proven easy for Google to get its way, especially with Samsung being its largest partner in terms of the number of devices it sells each year. However, given the recent decline in Samsung's sales, and the rise in popularity of Google's Nexus devices, the company is using it as a way to say consumers want pure Android.

To make it clear, Android is an open source platform and anyone can use the base code and make as many changes to the system as they like. However, in order to have access to Google's Play Store and numerous other services, the company mandates that manufacturers follow a set of restrictions it has put in place.

While there's no way to prove the legitimacy of Efrati's report, it's been clear that Google wants more control of Android. The company recently unveiled Android Wear, Android Car and Android TV which don't allow manufacturers to customize the software in any way, except by pre-loading the devices with their own apps.

Google wants the rest of the world to follow what Motorola has done in recent past, which has earned the company high praise from the media as well as users. Does everyone want the stock Android experience? It's hard to say. But with Google pushing out world class services each year, it could soon be.


TAGS: Google, Android, Samsung, Android L, Material Design