The Appearance of Android
Android is the world’s most popular OS but it is no doubt too diverse for the average user to know if a device is running Android or not. Because it is open-source it means anyone manufacturing any device can use this without paying a fee as others do to use Windows phone on their devices. At the beginning of all this, it was geared at letting companies taking it from source and tweaking it the way they wanted. Android had an ugly beginning with a very unappealing look. Just see these photos:
Image Source: BGR
It wasn’t that great compared to all the “eye candy” looks we have today. OEMs then took it themselves to give us more. They made their own versions of Android based on the original “pure” Android from Google and put on their devices. These are called skins and it increased the performance while having good power management and a lot better aesthetics. Samsung had Touchwiz, HTC came up with Sense from its Windows mobile days, Motorola with Motoblur and many others. You get the point. Android wasn’t working so well and didn’t look great which forced manufacturers to engage and put their skins on it.
Touchwiz from Samsung
Sense from HTC
The fact is over the years Google with its Android OS no only focused on the performance but on the aesthetics too. I bet you many of those on other platforms who left Android were due to the problems above and will come back if they had a device running stock 4.2.2 Jelly bean as of the time of this writing. So true that OEMs like HTC and Samsung now have devices running “pure” Android known as the Google edition devices. If you have an Android device and haven’t ever seen these on your device then you are probably running a skin or the nightmare past of Android(<4.0).
Android was ugly before but now it’s beautiful. The UI, animations and everything else seems to be night and day from what it used to be. The good thing is that it adds in functionality every time a new version is released. The only thing that doesn’t change is the fact that manufacturers still skin Android. This is so that they can add proprietary stuff to it so that others may not just rip off their software features and also for consumer to have a unique experience with their devices. Experiences can be bad or good. I get it though I believe young manufacturers who just started making Android powered devices should run stock and understand how Android works before adding and editing it to their skins or versions. Skins slow down Android, increase issues and eliminate some of its functionality and in extreme cases render it incompatible with apps from the Google play store like Amazon’s Android version on their Kindles. Some manufacturers like HTC and Samsung have been around a while and understand skinning but with these Google edition devices maybe the skins of Android have started going out of the door. Maybe we need skins, maybe we need stock Android but whatever the case let no one stop you from enjoying Android. Right now it’s a great operating system far from what it was before and if there is a skin on it let it be well optimized and not come in the way of our user experience.