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New Android UI Coming on Gingerbread?

TechCrunch is reporting that a major UI(user interface) overhaul is in store for the next Android release, rumored to be titled Gingerbread.  The overall goal is to remove the desire from manufacturers to want to put their own skin over the standard Google Experience and to come closer to the polished feel of the enemy’s iOS.  When we talk about “skins” we’re referring to HTC’s SenseUI and Motorola’s Motoblur which over time have received feedback from all over the map.  Some love them, some really hate them.  Google hopes to make them “pointless.”

This news shouldn’t come as a complete surprise either after seeing Google’s signing of Palm’s Web OS designer, Matias Duarte.

Thoughts on some major user experience changes?  Is standard Android too plain?  Do we need more flash?

Source: TechCrunch

  • http://profiles.yahoo.com/u/72CGYGRSVF442GT2B76ZEUCRLY Jeff

    “Is standard Android too plain? Do we need more flash?” – So long as there is *anything* about the UI that I cant customize how I want, the answer is yes.

  • Petro Dragoumanos

    I think this is the right move for Google to take with the Android platform. It should help unify the platform since custom UIs like Sense and Motoblur delay the upgrade process. Phone manufacturers should still be able to create custom Home applications to create ther own flavors of Android but not delay the upgrade process.

  • WhereIsTony

    The sense Ui was the main thing that made me hesitate on the Droid Incredible. But upon release, I prefer it to the stock interface.

    I am hoping the new blur and the gingerbread ui “borrows” heavily from sense.

  • Stthom

    I want a simple GUI with the ability to customize it however I wish … I really don't care for a whole bunch of “widgets,” just give me the icons for the programs!

    • WhereIsTony

      Widgets are one of Androids biggest advantages over RIM and iOS

  • MorbidRealities

    Heres a novel friggen idea! Google requires manufactors to release Android devices stock. Manufactor wants to creat custom skins and UI then they put it on the market as “device specific”. That way we can get our stock Android updates quickly while the manufactors such as HTC, Motorola, Samsung and SE update their skins on their own friggen time and the consumers can get the “Google” updates in a timely fashion

    • cpeter753

      you took the words out of my mouth. why the manufacturers feel the need to put these UI's on top and slow down any update is beyond me. if i wanted your crappy UI, i'd go to the market and pick it up then turn it off when it didnt work with a google update.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Chad-Misphit/564712822 Chad Misphit

    Yes flash please……

  • http://twitter.com/VegasAddict85 Leo Sanchez

    Yes the standard Android is boring HTC Sense is nice I have never seen Motoblur but Android is amazing fast easy to use just a boring UI on the Droid Moto still wouldnt change phones though can live with the boring

  • Teh Flower

    I thought the plain OS was just fine. Especially if you download LauncherPro beta or any other home replacement and just customize it to how you want.

    I really don't see the benefit of Sense/Moto/Ninja blur after doing that change…

  • Jsmuli2

    I dont care, just give me FROYO for DROID already!!! (and not that rooted SDK crap, i want the official version)

    • Originalme8

      I already have FROYO for the DROID….learn how to put it on yourself then you aren't help back by “the man”.

      Sidenote: the man in this case is Verizon and Motorola :D

  • EC8CH

    Best thing google could do is add the ability to theme the OS without root, just like they do with their chrome browser. Openness is what android is known for, plus Steve would never allow this on his phone… EVER!

  • EggoEspada

    Yes. Some polish would be nice. And getting rid of those skins would be awesome.
    Pure stock is the way to go…

  • http://www.osu.edu monolithic

    I'm going to preface this with a statement that this is a major pet peeve of mine. I see it in my industry constantly…

    Design is not programming and programming is not design. A programmer is no more a designer than a gynecologist is a dentist – even though they're both doctors and work on the human body. Follow me, here?

    (I'm focusing on Apple because they are Android's main competition)

    Apple products are successful in large part because they focus on end-user experience as much as they focus on hardware specs.

    Ergonomics is important, folks! How well your device works (and looks!) is just as important as how fast the processor is.

    Apple puts a lot of time and money into the industrial design part of their products and the user interface design of their products.

    They do that by employing actual DESIGNERS. Not some programmer who has no art or design degree. Apple has programmers do the programming and designers do the design. It makes sense.

    Industrial Design, GUI Design and the Visual Arts are professional fields. This is why they are specialized degrees for this line of work.

    Let's look at the current theming and ROM community. I'm going to be brutally honest here. Most of the themes are hideous. I don't know how many design rules these things break. Color palettes aren't even compatible. Looks like a lot of these themes were designed with limited to no knowledge of color theory or design aesthetics. In short, it looks like they were designed by programmers who are dabbling in design. Utter crap!

    So if Google wants Android to have a sweet GUI and look-and-feel, then first order of business is to make sure it's designed by a team of designers and not some programmers who are thrown additional responsibilities outside their area of expertise.

    Everyone will appreciate the UI more and Android will close the gap and maybe even surpass iOS.

    M.

    • EggoEspada

      I can defiantly see what you're saying, and I can agree. Though Google might realize that, which is why they acquired Matias Duarte. I'm sure you see what he did with WebOS and arguably one of the best UIs seen on a smartphone. I just hope this will make everything a more enjoyable experience. Tech-savvy people may not mind as much the UI, but the average consumer would like a stress free experience, which is as you said why iPhone is successful. Its a smartphone that anyone can use with ease.
      Though its UI is a little too simple for me. lol.

      • http://www.osu.edu monolithic

        Very interested in seeing the outcome of what hiring Duarte, brings. I'm stoked about that development.

        M.

    • http://twitter.com/mazinkaiser702 greg

      I don't like custom rom themes and manufacturer UI and prefer stock google experience. The manufacturer's should just make custom widgets so that getting OS updates would be a lot faster.

    • http://thisisjohncoffey.com GRAND MASTER SEN$Ei {{-_-}}™

      That's based on opinion. JRummy's Strawberry keeps getting better and better everyday. I'm Froyoed out now, and it feels lovely! {{^_^}}

  • brando56894

    I definitely feel that the default “Google Experience” UI is too plain, but then again I like to customize everything so nothing that is prebuilt/default is ever good enough for me. I usually use launcher pro, a dark theme (such as smoked glass), and a red and black wallpaper. I just find an awesome one thats a red, black and white 3d swirl and I had the notification bar hidden and had beautiful widgets weather on my home screen and it looked SICK! Sadly BW crashed my phone and when it rebooted the BW widgets were no longer in my widgets list :(

  • Svfant05

    manufacturer specific skins SUCK!!!!!!!!!

  • Drew

    Give me a little more polish. Give me all the options (and maybe a couple more) that LauncherPro has. Let me pick the color of my notification bar, what displays in it, and the ability to choose new icon packs. Further, you can introduce “themes”. Kind of like rooting does. It would allow for font families/sizes, background, home shortcut/widget sets, and notification bar settings to be all shared between people.

    Once the homescreen and few truly core apps (contacts, phone, calendar, etc) are updated and the other googly apps are separated. Then you can updated the other apps by google more quickly without having to wait for a whole new OS update. The underlying parts of Android are great, just needs a little more “polish”.

  • http://peoplewho.tumblr.com wireless G

    Make it visually rotate the content of the screen when you switch from portrait to landscape and back, like the iPhone. That's the sort of thing Apple people constantly refer to when saying the iOS is more “polished.”

    • Drew

      Next time anyone tells you this, ask if they'll trade you two shiny quarters for a dull, dirty dollar bill. Who cares if the quarters don't give you as much as a dollar…they're SHINY!

      I get your point, but I could care less if I actually see it rotate…this is why iOS is getting left behind by Android. Google is building in actual functionality while Apple is adding shiny things.

      • http://peoplewho.tumblr.com wireless G

        Yes, I know, I know, but we can have both – it's not an either or.

      • http://www.osu.edu monolithic

        Drew, this is not entirely true.

        iPhone is not getting left behind by anything. The market numbers show this. If iPhone and iOS sucks, then why is every phone that comes out compared to it and labeled “iPhone killer!!” ?? Why do market numbers and statistics show that iPhone is out in front?

        Us Droid Life visitors are not indicative of Android or cell phone owners of a whole. We're a small sub-set of cell phone owners. A niche market. We're a minority – we're Android cell phone owner enthusiasts. We're not the majority of every-day average cell phone users.

        The majority of cell phone users don't care about over-clocking, don't care about rooting, don't care about running command line commands through a term window.

        They care about core functionality and it working and looking good. They don't have time or desire to play around with their phones like us enthusiast do.

        Market research shows the numbers and the facts to prove this.

        If people don't care about shininess, etc – then why is iPhone so successful if it doesn't have functionality? Its only offered on one carrier in the US and it only has one current model at any given time, unlike Android's plethora of devices and carriers.

        The fact is, iPhone does what it does very well and caters to the average (majority) cell phone crowd and what that crowd wants.

        It works, it works well and it looks good doing so.

        People are going to choose something that works well AND looks good over something that works well and merely looks average.

        M.

  • Ace Z.

    Thank god!!! Hey I have to change my icon pic :(

    • http://twitter.com/metalhead520 Nick

      lol :-), there can be more than one ish ok hahahahaha

  • http://twitter.com/metalhead520 Nick

    Not taking away anything from my 1.2ghz Droid “drool”, but my buddies stock Eris is smooth as silk, I wish….no i just hope that the new UI will be somewhere in-line with the speed of the Eris. I went to stock 2.1 before I couldn't take it anymore and went back to rooted 1.2ghz and I hated the speed at 550mhz of the UI and drawer. ACK!!! hahaha

  • brandonmee

    The only thing that is concerning is that every company this guy has worked for has went under.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=26900572 Kelly Walsh

    I like android as is – I have tried using friends phones with sense ui and hated it! I want pure android, maybe make it look 'prettier' but don't mess with the stuff that works please!

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=26900572 Kelly Walsh

    I like android as is – I have tried using friends phones with sense ui and hated it! I want pure android, maybe make it look 'prettier' but don't mess with the stuff that works please!

    • http://www.osu.edu monolithic

      Agreed!

  • John Mo

    Something I would love to see, and Im hoping the direction Google is heading: Complete and total customization of the UI. Ability to choose any color or style for the noticication bar, stock widgets and apps, launcher, ect. all built in to the os. Something that would take away most peoples desire to root their phones basically.

    • John Mo

      Even the ability to choose what font you want to use, system wide.

  • rals

    Good competition for the Ios4

  • http://twitter.com/metalhead520 Nick

    Id love to see 2.2 before I hear anything else from Google/Verizon on Gingerbread. Im getting fed up with them saying, in a few weeks but it comes months later. Crappy business practices if you ask me. Its nice that their planning great things but Id love them to get 2.2 to my handset before I hear a peep of other stuff lol.

    • Chris

      Nick, couldn't agree with you more. It'd be especially nice if the new phones were released with updates as well. Even if I buy the DroidX…I have to wait for 2.2 udpate? WTF is that?

    • http://profiles.yahoo.com/u/PP2KC2NKYXJ5AUNAJWRZTBRPUA Matty G

      Totally agree with you. I'm sure someone will comment on this about how “It is available, Its called rooting” but I'm glad there's at least 3 of us non-rooted users left lol

      • http://twitter.com/metalhead520 Nick

        Matty, sorry to disappoint you, i was a rooted user until going from version 0.2 froyo bugless beast to version 1.1 regular bugless beast broke my market. Ive tried downgrading to 2.01 and that didnt help anything. Ill probably have to erase my sd card yet again completely and redo everything. Which i dont mind because ive been taught so well by Kellex and others on here that im a master of unbricking and fixing my phone. Once i get it back to normal im going back to Bugless Beast version 1.1 at 1.2ghz, I never had any problems with it so thats why i like it so much. If my damn market would work i could get everything fixed without erasing my sd card for a third time.

  • http://profiles.yahoo.com/u/OACSOOGRUV2EMZPJT6EAH3FM6M Miguel Martinez

    Just give us the option to turn off those skins anytime we want.

  • Jdstell

    If Google wants to simplify the launcher and make UI skins pointless, they need to hire the ADW and LauncherPro guys…

    • ircmaxell

      They will never make UI skins pointless. That's one of the best parts about Android (the fact that you can swap out almost every component if you so choose). It's sort of like KDE vs Gnome on Linux, only not quite (since KDE and Gnome are not just “skins”, but full windowing managers). Even if they make it customizable to the point where Blur and Sense, etc are no longer “needed”, people will likely still want to skin it themselves.

      Personally, I hate most of the skins, but I use LauncherPro. Mainly, because it's bloody fast and gives me 5 home screens (And the 4 icons on the bottom). The rest of the features I could live without. Sure, the app drawer fly in is cool, but I wouldn't complain if that wasn't in there. I want exactly what Kevin said above, I want the UI to preform its function, and then get out of my way…

      • Svfant05

        following in the path of linux is going to do nothing but make android an extremely small niche.

        • ircmaxell

          I think you missed my point. What I want is a customizable UI skin. Not a full blown composting manager. The difference is that the skin just renders the components which use the existing “lower” API (Exactly the difference between HOME and LauncherPro). A full blown composting manager would implement its own API, so you'd need to rewrite the application for each manager (or at least have a middle layer). That's what happens now in Linux (Apps that work in Gnome don't necessarily work in KDE and vise versa (with the exception of those that use a middle layer to do the abstraction)…

          Think of the concept of skins for Winamp or even Windows. You can affect the look and feel, without altering the underlying functionality (or general functionality for that matter)…

      • Towelie420

        No it needs to be fast AND have flair. The iPhone looks nice and runs very smoothly, but the interface can get boring real quick. I LOVE the 3-D app drawer, and the way the icons fly in. And live wallpapers? If you don't think live wallpapers are a feature that BOLDLY sets Android apart from iPhone, then you are a moron.

  • Chris

    At first I was against SenseUI, especially it eating up resources but after playing with the Incredible I found myself wishing my Droid had it. Being an interface designer I know simple is easier and to not let users have to think. I think Google could make things a bit easier and simpler to use but I agree with everyone else..options, options, options

  • http://profiles.yahoo.com/u/RXFWXDUWRRHCGFV6NP2SDZ7YLU Ray

    I think this is a good idea for ppl not willing to root or they don't have the know how to have something different besides that boring white notification bar that makes me sick when I see it.

  • Paul

    Did anyone read the Wired on-line article concerning this?

    • Drew

      link?

  • Patrick S

    I owned a Palm Pre for a short time prior to getting the Droid. I loved the card system and flow of the OS. Multitasking on the Droid is somewhat clunky in comparison to how it's done on the Pre. I would love to see a similar OS design make it's way to the Droid. I'm not saying that I don't like the Droid OS now, but in my opinion, the Palm's Web OS (or a similar design) running running on a solid, well built platform like the Droid would be the perfect mobile device.

  • leonard

    YES please! we need more eye candy, but maybe google should just work with htc to make the new ui, sense is ALMOST perfect =)

  • http://twitter.com/blinkfink182 Kelly Thomas Reardon

    I actually love the standard Android UI. I want the Droid X so bad, but having a skin over the UI scares me. If I could remove it, that'd be great.

  • http://profiles.yahoo.com/u/RXFWXDUWRRHCGFV6NP2SDZ7YLU Ray

    Has anybody tried bugless beast .2 yet?

    • http://www.myspace.com/abrielband Tim-o-tato

      I did! lol

      • Flyinion

        How is it? I have bailed on trying Kangerade. Read too many issues of gmail not working, sync not working, gps/nav not working, etc. Is BB having any of those issues? GPS/Nav is a MUST for me so if it's not working, I'm not flashing it :) I've been seeing these reports as a trend on all the ROMs based off the latest leaked frf57 build so I'm thinking it's something inherent in the leak and we need to wait for another leak or something to get these things fixed?

  • http://profiles.yahoo.com/u/7DLRIXAFHGCD265D652KEY3LUE Mikey

    I like Google's approach to the situation as a whole. Making pre skinned UIs from manufacturers 'pointless' is a good step in the right direction in my opinion. It's about the people making the phone THEIR phone, not giving people a phone that “is-what-it-is” (*caugh *caugh Crapple) Props to Google!

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Rahiem-Graham/100000489273746 Rahiem Graham

    I'm for it as long as it's not a memory hog and that the user has the ability to turn the thing off. Nothing is better than options. HTC and Motorola seem to forget that. At the same time they seem to forget that Android got them to this point. I can see if they were mobile software experts before this. They obviously were not.

    • http://twitter.com/davedemaria davedemaria

      htc has been in the mobile game for years so has motorola HTC had sense UI in windows mobile phoned a few years back its nothing new….

  • EC8CH

    Doesn't Froyo already give us all the Flash we need?

    …see what I did there?

    • Tabe

      *RIMSHOT* !!

  • ek3

    well some things on android should be added:

    1. shortcut for recent calls

    2. save contact easily while on phone by just punching in the numbers and saving
    (instead of pressing home and going to contacts)

  • EC8CH

    Google:

    All your Skin are belong to Us.

  • snafu009

    Droid Life has quickly become my first, and often only, stop for not just all things Android, but mobile OS news in general. This article is just more of the same awesome I've come to expect. Really awesome work Kellex, you da man!

  • StephanC

    I would like a little more flare.

    • briderx

      You know what, StephanC, if you want 37 pieces of flair, like your pretty boy over there, Tim-a-tato, why don't you just make the minimum 37 pieces of flair?

      - And this, my friends, is post 100!

      • StephanC

        Where are my 37 pieces of flair? Are you mad at me?

        • briderx

          No.. Office Space quote..

          • StephanC

            Oh yeah! Haha. Nice one.

  • ajavgeek

    It is all about the options, users go for both according to their choice, so I guess Android should offer bare-bone system as well as designed UI as well. The moment they start going by one route and forcing that on user, it will be same as iOS

    Freedom of Choice is what Android's power,

    my 2 cents

    • Tabe

      Indeed! Options, options, options!

  • Kevin

    Plainer the better. The UI's purpose is to perform a function and get out of the way. I prefer smooth, quick functioning of the UI to get to where I want… an app. Live wallpapers, glitzy app drawer, etc. They take away from the UI's function.

    • snafu009

      I largely agree with you, however what with the upcoming dual core, and 2ghz, chip rumors I think the general speed of the UI will become less and less of an issue. I'm sort of in the camp that believes: why not include all the chrome polish they can…as long as I have the ability to turn it off (case in point, the background images as optional in the Google homepage).

      • EC8CH

        The whole background thing was all a marketing ploy… remember “New Coke” ;-)

      • http://twitter.com/metalhead520 Nick

        Yeah they are coming out with the dual core and 2ghz, but that just means there gonna pack more graphics into a phone now and the speed will be just the same as it was before, but prettier lol. At least that's what I think is gonna happen.

  • slipstream20v

    For those of us who root I think standard Android is just fine. Most of us will customize it to the hilt anyway. But for 75% of Android's users, I suspect they consider it “boring” when compared to their coworker's/brother's/boyfriend's iPhone. Since customization is locked down for non-rooters I can see why that would be frustrating.

    As long as us rooters can still rip it open and customize to our heart's delight, I say bring it on.

  • El El Kool J

    great.. most of us get our droids to customize it anyway.. Plus just having Android UI might bring the price down on the phones too..

  • Tabe

    I think that the bare-bones-line nature of the Android is part of it's appeal. People love that they can customize the look to their heart's content!
    I hope Google doesn't do TOO much to the look of the UI… Maybe they should work more closely with the 3rd partys that are adding their customizations (Moto's Blur, HTC's Sense, etc) to ensure that what they are adding is fully optimized as to not slow down the OS one bit. AND to ensure that their mods are easily disabled by the user… I think that no matter what Google does to the OS the 3rd parties will always want to add their own flavor to it.

    • kellex

      I'm with you. I like the bare bones look and the ability to customize it myself.

    • EC8CH

      I'd like to see a way for the third party OEM skins to be pushed out of the OS. Seems like you could accomplish most of what they do anyway with widgets and custom apps (launchers, dialers, etc). Have their phones preinstalled with custom widgets and apps instead of requiring a completely custom OS.

      My 2 cents…

      • jxcgunrunna

        That really takes a lot away from what Android's open and flexible OS can do. In winmo we could build on top of it which slowed down a slow OS/hardware but with this, it can be inter-graded and much faster.

  • azurikai

    i'd like more customization built into the actual UI, maybe potential to add senseUI like abilities and switch up between what you want and what you don't want to mold your perfect android experience?

  • http://twitter.com/VenturelaCarte Venture

    This is awesome news. Thank God… go Google… they aren't saying “we won't allow UI changing”… they are saying “this is going to look so cool… you aren't going to want to change it”… :)

    • kellex

      This is true, let's hope they deliver. :)

  • Bwassink

    I'd like to see some more innovation. I like the idea of Google creating a more polished UI as that is one of the big complaints people coming from the Iphone have.

    • Hello978

      ok google needs to revisit the selling of a phone idea. they need to make a world phone that works on all carriers. make it stand out in looks and performance. take the ui in the direction that they want and run with it. if they did that they would do alright.

      • Magicjboy

        i know this post is way out of date, but i must disagree with you sir, by selling a phone google competing with all the carriers who they are trying to get to cooperate with them. Its the same reason there isn't a windows brand of computer, because it would make a conflict of interest between the hardware makers and Microsoft, its the same idea just with the phone hardware makers and google.

  • Aleksmilosevic9y

    Third still on the podium

    • Tabe

      Hmmm, looks like you might have tied for 3rd… Kellex, can you check the replay?! lol

      • Aleksmilosevic9y

        THANK GOD this isn't the MLB, or else we couldn't replay

        • Tabe

          LOL!

  • JettaDP

    First

    • Tabe

      crap…
      lol