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Matias Duarte Talks Ice Cream Sandwich, Android Skins And Fragmentation

The man behind Honeycomb and Ice Cream Sandwich, Matias Duarte recently took place in a Google+ Hangout hosted by The Daily Beast. During the conversation Mr. Duarte focused on Ice Cream Sandwich and the future of the mobile operating system. The latest version of Android is incredibly polished and when compared to previous versions it is simply stunning. Unfortunately, manufacturers won’t think twice about putting custom skins on their devices and changing a user’s experience.

We have already seen early builds of these skins from Sony and Samsung, both of which bring little of the Ice Cream Sandwich joy to light. You would think the big man himself would be disappoint with the concept of OEM skins, however he isn’t. Mr. Duarte embraces the skins, even claiming that himself and the rest of the Android team have learned from them. Additionally, he mention that without the Nexus program he would be more bothered by the idea of OEM customization.

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.

With Ice Cream Sandwich, Mr. Duarte hopes OEM skins will become less-intrusive and let users experience more of a what Google intended.

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.

Lastly,  the dreaded F-word was discussed – fragmentation. As both critics and fans have pointed out, fragmentation is a major problem in the world of Android. Duarte explained that fragmentation is the “price you pay” with open-sourcing a project like Android. Manufactures can decide which version of software to run on their devices, however Google has worked with OEMs, pledging to continue to update their devices for an 18-month time period. Additionally, the OEM’s software version will be kept closer to current builds released by Google.

The idea of being able to shut off skins is something Android fans have been pleading for. Whether you are a developer or just a user looking for the pure Android experience, you shouldn’t be required to flash a custom ROM to do so. Being able to shut off the small tweaks provided from ASUS on the Transformer Prime and revert to the stock UI is a concept that should be followed by others.

Via: Androinica

  • Quinnsnyder

    Fragmentation schmagnetation. If you have to initiate an update via SD Card and the card can’t be read by you’re PC or stopped by read by the PC what is the point? Samsung Kies is another example of vaporware that doesn’t always work either.

  • Anonymous

    tinyurl.ie/7fb

  • Anonymous

    phlpn.es/829r8s

  • Anonymous

    phlpn.es/829r8s

  • thê randy

    Fragmentation, in my estimation, is a small price to pay for the blissful open-sourceness that is Android…

  • U Mad Bro? No But Your Mom Is

    Amen! Giving the option to disable the OEM skin should be a set in stone law!

  • Christopher riner

    Android is totally heading in the right direction

  • Anonymous

    tinyurl.ie/7fb

  • Edelafuente

    Everbody i found an Hd netflix app that works on the LTE NEXUS just go to XDA forum n under galaxy nexus themes and apps sectiod the link use the link from the op

    • Edelafuente

      *you will find 

  • Anonymous

    Clearly he isn’t going to say what he probably wants to, after all this is the guy who designed the stock UI on Android. I dunno about any of you, but if I was able to do this, I’d be a little biased.  :p

    • Julio

      He didn’t design the Honeycomb or Ice Cream Sandwich. Jim Faris was the the primary designer, but now that Matias is taking the credit and Faris is gone, the next version of Android is going to look a lot worse….

  • Booboolala2000

    Glad i have my galaxy nexus. If i didnt motorola seems to have the less intrusive skin.

  • Anonymous

    tinyurl.ie/7fb

  • nessa

    forcing bloatware thats non removeable AND forcing a skin that doesnt have the ability to be disabled by the user violates the open source rules. surprised he isnt against it.

    • lostsync

      That’s actually all perfectly acceptable behavior under the Apache 2.0 license. It’d certainly be cool if the bloatware and skins were all optional, and I support this, but it isn’t in violation of any rules anywhere.

  • Tommy Thompson

    “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.”

    THAT is what all manufacturers should allow!

  • Anonymous

    So it’s a free for all?  I’m not sure I like that attitude.

  • Anonymous

    I just would like to give my opinion of how important it is for those of us who purchased the Galaxy Nexus to reach out to Verizon and let them know how happy we are to have an uninhibited, stock Google experience.  You can go to their website and contact them.  We’re so quick to do that when we are unhappy with something.  But in many cases, it’s just as important to praise them for such an amazing device, which will make them more likely to give us more devices without these garbage, abortion skins that OEMs put on these phones.  Let’s do everything we can to make sure we don’t have to wait over two years again for another bone-stock device.  Merry Christmas Droid Life!

    • http://iamandroid.co/profile/rocktoonz Rocktoonz

      Probably a good idea to let Samsung and other manufacturers know the same thing.  If enough people tell Motorola that they chose the GNex over, say, the Razr, JUST because it didn’t have any OEM customizations on it, then maybe all the hardware manufacturers would get the message as well.

  • Anonymous

    “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.”
    Beautiful

  • Anonymous

    How did no one else catch the dig at the Kindle Fire. Very crafty, he wraps it up as kind of a compliment, but really it’s an insult.

    Whether he personally believes any of his comments or not is anyone’s guess, but it’s certainly the politically right answer to defend the open nature of Android, whether we agree with the directions some companies are going or not.

  • Anonymous

     Samsung Galaxy Nexus. 4.02 I like every thing about the phone but the Brightness level in low light in auto brightness. Its ways to dark to see. Why is the notification bar so small and the notification bar is alot darker in color and hard to see there are no bright colors in the notification bar. The GPS, why does samsung not fix the jumpy movement that it has had for a long time. Samsung fascinate was the same. When driving your arrow moves like a frog, it jumps across the screen. I need GPS for my work it needs to be dead on. Its is far from it. Droid X was so smooth moving. I might return for this reason only.

    • http://twitter.com/timberwolfkw Kyle Wilkins

      I’ll take your Galaxy Nexus!

    • Samsunglikeswhenyougetlost

      Samsung strikes again. Every single Samsung has this problem. Bad choice of going with Samsung Google.

    • Uncagedchipmunk

      Have yet to experiance these issues or the so call GPS lock on. my DINC tooks 5 minutes to find a signal. GNEX took a second to lock on and navigate to the nearest Wendy’s with no jumping. I keep Auto brightness off as at night it is too bright so i turn it down all the way manual. My eyes are probably able to pick up more with less than you.

  • http://www.facebook.com/anthony.bottari Anthony Bottari

    Hey everyone  I’ve had my Nexus since about 11 am..and my old apps from my OG droid have still not syncd to this phone..any idea why this is?

    • Anonymous

      Apps do not sync. Paid apps will show inarket under “my apps” as uninstalled. Free apps may or may not show up on that list.

      • http://www.facebook.com/george.robarge George Robarge

        My apps started syncing to my Nexus within the first 10 minutes of activating it.

      • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_3TWTEKBS24WMAJUAHBSRL56YWA Chris

        My paid apps did start to download automatically once my Gnex was activated and updated.  I stopped the process because I needed to unlock the bootloader and root so I could restore them from Titanium Backup.  Not sure why it would be different for you, unless it has something to do with what version you were running on your old device (i.e. your old device needed to be running Gingerbread for the auto-sync to a new phone to work but your OG was still running Froyo), but that is just a blind guess.

    • QtDL

      As soon as I logged into my Gmail account all of my apps from my OG droid started syncing and all my apps were free.

      • http://www.facebook.com/anthony.bottari Anthony Bottari

        Really? I’ve had to re d.l every app ..and my  chrome bookmarks have not sync’d yet either..strange..oh well..still love my Nexus and very happy I was patient and waited.

  • http://profiles.google.com/cand3rson Chris Anderson

    The Nexus program is good enough if every iteration is available on every carrier going forward.  Having to wait 25 months from the OG Droid to the Galaxy Nexus on Verizon was not okay.  At least I had an OG Droid; people that bought phones after it was EOL had no option for vanilla Android on Verizon.

  • Anonymous

    I love moto skin period. I can not wait for my ICS in my razr :)

    • Bionic

      wow really?  i hate blur.  i covered it up with go launcher

      • Anonymous

        I like Blur as well. I have to be clear and point out that I prefer the post Droid X Blur. Like the Bionic/D3/RAZR Blur the best.

        Even compared to my CM7 running Atrix and OG(y’all didn’t know I had one of those too did ya?) I prefer Blur to stock.

        • Anonymous

          Yes. This. Blur after the D3/Bionic is way better than boring ugly AOSP. Blur before made me want to punch babies. I use to really hate Moto but they have really stepped it up. Now they meed to stop encrypting bootloaders.

          • Anonymous

            This. I never thought I’d see the day, but the version of blur-not-blur on the RAZR actually improves on AOSP Gingerbread. However, I really would like the option of turning off/uninstalling things sans root.

      • Anonymous

        I loved go launcher, but the features on The Moto’s UI on the razr is so good that moto can take their time making ICS the right way unlike google lol.

    • http://twitter.com/timberwolfkw Kyle Wilkins

      covered my grandpas up with LaucherPro. He liked it and bought Plus!

      • Anonymous

        They did not make ICS the right way. They had to release 4.0.2 within days lol. Come on google and samsung get your act together already.

        • Anonymous

          I don’t think it’s the operating system, I think it’s the poor signal they are trying to fix. If you keep an eye on it the phone can’t keep a signal for it’s life.

          • Anonymous

            I do not blame Google, my problem is with Samsung. Every other manufactures seem to improve on some features, but Samsung is leaving the weak radios, plastic feel etc.

  • Anonymous

    As if Asus’s snappy updating of the OS wasn’t enough, they go ahead and offer the option to disable their customizations. Another reason to like those guys.

    • Anonymous

      I want Asus to come out with an awesome phone. That way I have more options than just Samsung if I am seeking the perfect Android smartphone.

      Then you’d have a great Asus ultrabook (waiting for successor to UX31), Asus tablet (Prime), and Asus smartphone. I think the only thing stopping Asus from creating their own ecosystem from this the way Amazon did and HTC seemingly tried to do is that Asus’s software tends to suck; they are renown for their hardware but outside of certain drivers they never have been too hot with software.

      • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100001805990120 Mike Røuche

        the padphone is supposed to be announced at CES , its basically a phone that goes inside a tablet that has no hardware but the phone becomes the processor and all that other good stuff.  

      • Anonymous

        I agree.  However in the same note we will have to ask them when they are going to get an update out to resolve the signal issues. 

        This sweet phone won’t do us much good if signal is either very low or dropped.

        On my second one and it is the same. 

  • Peter

    “The latest version of Android is incredibly polished and when compared to previous versions it is simply stunning”

    I read this and though. “Damn I miss Chevy’s simply stunning…” lol. That was a great ROM

  • Peter Henkel

    You want stock Android? Buy Nexus.
    Problem solved.

    Next!

    • Anonymous

      The only problem with that is there is only 1 or a few Nexus phones. So I kinda see that as comp out personally. If every phone had a Nexus version then people would truly have the choice between phones with custom skins and stock android. I have a D3 and I don’t ever want a phone without a physical keyboard again, so there is no option for me.

      • Christopher riner

        You know, the point you brought up made me think that perhapa if all phpnes were stock android then i might have gone with a razr. But as i thought about it, the nexus is so much more than just a stock android experience. Even without considering the fact that it gets ots updates straight feom google, its just an all around awesome phone. Great hardware, amazing screen (ima curve-lovin brutha)– theres just tons to love about it. And the notification light ia sweeeet

  • Anonymous

    I love this part, it gives me hope that the VZ Nexus isn’t a one time thing.

    “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.”

    Also the part about ASUS allowing the custom UI to be turned off.

    +1 to ASUS

    • Anonymous

      I am right with you Timoh couldn’t have said it any better :)

      • Nick

        thats an awesome move on ASUS’s part, one I hope other manufactures soon follow. However, of all the manufactures so far, ASUS’s tweaks are the best IMO. On my transformer, they only did little things, things that for the most part are unnoticeable, but enhance and polish the experience. Thats the way manufacturer tweaks/customizations should be, not all this crazy don’tcallmeblur/touchwiz/sense crap.

        • Anonymous

          True, so true

        • Anonymous

          Didn’t the original EVO have this option also?  Once they did it, I thought all would follow suit… 99% of users wouldn’t know about this feature, or care thus keeping the image of differentiation, and they would probably have less people rooting too

          • Anonymous

            I’m not sure about the original Evo but I know that a couple of htc phones before the Evo like the droid Eris gave you the option to use the stock Android launcher. The phone would still have it’s customized look like the notification bar, and any app that was redone with the skin, like the contacts app, stayed the same. So yes, you could turn off the sense launcher and use the stock google launcher but you weren’t able to completely turn off all of HTC’s customizations and have a completely stock Google experience.

  • Anonymous

    I still don’t understand why Ubuntu can push out software updates themselves to a variety of hardware configurations and it works fine, but with Android, the hardware makers need to push out updates themselves for each device separately.

    • Anonymous

      Because both the carriers and manufacturers have their own separate validation and QA processes.  It may seem unnecessary, but phones are held to a higher standard of availability, for instance there are laws regulating that even phones with inactive sims must be able to dial 911.  But mostly its just that the carriers and manufactures have been doing it this way for a long time and won’t willingly relinquish control, hence the importance of the Nexus program.

    • Anonymous

      Think about it, there is no one Android OS for Google to update. Every one is a little different, sometimes it has a Sense UI overlay, sometimes it’s TouchWiz. It would be impossible for them to do this (nor do they possess the right). The Nexus line is the only exception: running pure Android without any customizations as Google intended.

      PS: I love my new Galaxy Nexus and actually typed all of this on it!

      • Anonymous

        Same here. :-)

      • Anonymous

        not just ubuntu.. how bout Windows?

        • Anonymous

          Windows is not open source nor does it grant complete os customization. This means they usually are updating untouchable pieces of the OS hidden from oems. Android grants the choice to customize literally everything.

          • Anonymous

            windows computers all have different hardware but common hardware (intel chipset, nvidia chipset, amd chipset) like android phones, they all have the same architecture CPU, x86, like android ARM.. yet when Windows 7 comes out, there is no problem installing it on a computer that had win vista.. why can’t we just “install” android ourselves

          • Anonymous

            We can. Root your phone

    • http://twitter.com/kirilv Kiril

      Ubuntu also doesn’t always work (for example, Broadcom wifi cards are always a pain, and sometimes fixes break with new updates). Proprietary “drivers” differ based on hardware, and  the manufacturers are the ones who worry about those. In Ubuntu, there are some generic drivers, which sometimes work and a lot of the time they don’t. Hardware companies, such as wifi or graphics cards manufacturers, also make proprietary drivers for Ubuntu and other distros. This is acceptable because Ubuntu is not marketed to the masses, and most people using Linux expect it and even like problem solving. Imagine, though, what would happen if Android updates came out all the time that may or may not work.

    • http://twitter.com/samari711 samari711

      That’s not really an apt comparison.  A better analogy would be someone complaining to Red Hat about how long it takes for CentOS and Scientific Linux to turn around their versions.  Google is just an upstream provider of the OS while the OEM take it and repackages their own way to support their needs.

    • http://twitter.com/chrisleighton3 Chris Leighton

      Ubuntu comes pre-installed with drivers, and can also download additional ones.  Android phones don’t have this liberty.

    • lostsync

      In addition to everything already said, optimization is a big factor here. Android isn’t really comparable to Ubuntu, but more like Gentoo or Slackware. Google distributes source, not binaries. It takes some work to get it running perfectly on a new machine, but then you can build images and distribute those to identical machines. The tradeoff for the work is performance. 

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Clinton-Sparks/100003080036160 Clinton Sparks

    agreeed!