The problem with Android

I've got one big problem with Android. No, it's not fragmentation, it's not "security", and it's not Google allegedly stealing my personal information. It's openness.

By Charlie Brown | Opinion

I've got one big problem with Android. No, it's not fragmentation, it's not "security", and it's not Google allegedly stealing my personal information. It's openness.

The key question when manufacturing an Android phone is "how do we sell this when our competitors have phones running the same software?". After all, there's only so many different hardware configurations available, whether you're making a low or high end device. Even then, the decision for most consumers isn't going to come down to whether a phone is 100Mhz faster than another one. And let's be honest, there hasn't been a ground-breaking phone design since the Lumia 800. All of these devices almost look the same.

Because of this, hardware manufacturers make changes to the Android operating system instead, to make their phone a "special snowflake". But the fact that Android's "openness" allows this makes it a worse experience for the consumer. Every hardware manufacturer wants to do their own thing, and insists on putting their own touches on the operating system. Whether it's Samsung, LG, Huawei or HTC, everyone does it. The problem is, these hardware manufacturers aren't quite as good at developing software as they are making hardware.

No Android phone I've used has been made better thanks to these customisations. In fact, most of the time the overall experience has been made worse. Sure, there are occasionally some cool additions, such as LG's Knock Code, but that doesn't require a complete re-skin of Android to implement. I'm not going to name names, but this has at times made Android painfully frustrating to use. It's almost enough to make me want an iPhone. …that was a joke, I should say, a Nexus 5.

Google seems to have taken notice of this, and their latest Android operating systems, Android Wear, Android Auto and Android TV, have disallowed this style of customisation in order to create a more cohesive experience. Hopefully this forces hardware manufacturers to innovate with the designs of these products and their feature sets, rather than trying a customised user-interface a selling point of their device. And maybe this carries across to the Android phones they are making to. After all, if something isn't broken, why fix it?

Leave a Reply