Google is bent on releasing Android OS Gingerbread in such a short period of time after releasing Froyo. Google aggressively released new versions of its Android operating systems since its first debut in Fall of 2008 and this trend isn’t going to slow down it seems. Tons of features have been added in the span of less than two years but the user experience has not improved that much. Sources inside Google’s Android team said the next scheduled Android OS update, codenamed “Gingerbread”, will focus more on the user interface rather than adding more features. The recent release of Android OS 2.2 Froyo has made the team felt they have already incorporated all the necessary core features to the OS and now wants to concentrate on the user experience side.
Google is quietly unhappy that hardware manufacturers for the Android OS have added their own custom UI. Motorola has MotoBlur, Samsung got its TouchWiz, and HTC has their Sense UI. The Gingerbread update aims to offer the best user interface that will discourage manufacturers from using custom UI on top of Android. Most of these custom skins are the reason why handset manufacturers are slow to update their OS because they have to rewrite their UI shell again and again every time Android releases updates. Worst, some of these customized user interfaces, while not spoken loudly by Google, can cause system slow down.
It is the primary objective of the Android team to offer a user experience similar to that of the iPhone. Everything should be easy, intuitive, and universal. The weakness of the Android OS is its open source architecture, thus, it suffers the same fate as Linux which still hasn’t achieved mass-appeal. Too many Linux distros made it unappealing to the ordinary person. Google is learning from this mistake of the Linux community, Gingerbread will try to bring in line all the concerned parties to agree upon one single user interface. Customers will feel more comfortable with a universal user experience for Android handsets regardless of who made them.
This is a noble mission for Google but I seriously doubt if Motorola, HTC or Samsung will stop using their custom UI. These companies will always be tempted to use customized skins on top of Android because they want to differentiate their products from competitors. Unlike Apple that controls both hardware and software, Google has no way to enforce this policy on phone manufacturers. The Android team can only try to come up with an amazing User Interface with Gingerbread that’s so good it will force the customers themselves to turn off MotoBlur or TouchWiz on their phones and switch back to Android’s default UI.