Android Skins: Beautiful, or only skin deep?

Discussion in 'Android News' started by This Green Machine, Sep 11, 2010.

  1. This Green Machine

    This Green Machine DF News Team Premium Member

    Joined:
    Aug 13, 2010
    Messages:
    27
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    1
    Location:
    Chicago
    Ratings:
    +0
    [​IMG]

    (This is a guest post by Dave D. from ThisGreenMachine.com. The original article can be found at this link.)

    As T-Mobile announced it’s new top tier Android smart phone (T-Mobile G2) on Thursday, I saw something I had not seen in a very long time. If you don’t own an unmodded Droid or Nexus One you might not recognize the skin being used on the G2. It’s a bit modest in looks, and might lack a few features of it’s relatives, but it’s blazing fast and receives updates more quickly than others. You might have heard of it before – it’s called stock Android 2.2 (Froyo).

    After the success/failure (depending on how you look at it) of the Nexus One, I didn’t know if another stock Android device would be released until Android 3.0 (Gingerbread). Like a breath of fresh air, the T-Mobile G2’s most outstanding characteristic is it’s clean taste. In a world filled with too many toppings and fillers, vanilla is my flavor of choice: comforting, familiar, and without unneeded calories.

    Don’t get me wrong, I love that there are skins available to give the user a variety of options – not everyone prefers the stock experience. Personally, I have always been a man to choose function over form, and while most skins do improve certain aspects of the UI (e.g., media player, contacts), they also add bloat, not to mention significant lags in OS updates due to a need to tweak each skin. Take for instance the Droid 2. As previously reviewed, with a much faster processor than the Droid 1, we should have seen an increase in performance, but instead we found it to be sluggish and only slightly better. With only so many ways to design a slate device, manufacturers are veering away from their core competency (hardware), looking to differentiate on the soft side. A note to manufacturers: Let the coders code, and you stick to making great hardware.

    True to form, the Android community has responded to problems with the skin experience with the development of custom launchers. Are you using the latest Cyanogen Mod rom? Then you are probably using either Launcher Pro and ADW Launcher, which have gained notoriety due to their ability to be highly customized without all the bloat. But, this too has its flaws. As managing editor of Engadget, Nilay Patel, stated last week during Engadget’s weekly podcast: Do we really have to rely on a launcher created by some guy in his basement to give us the better Android experience than carriers and manufacturers?

    So who’s to blame? Many point the finger at Google for not better controlling the ecosystem. Comparisons of the market place to the wild west often ring true. In a strange twist of fate, Android’s best feature is also becoming its worst enemy: openness. By allowing carriers and manufacturers complete creative control, Android is quickly morphing into a road fragmented into many different paths.

    Here’s my solution. With the release of Android 3.0 (Gingerbread), any phones that include Google apps such as Gmail and the Market must ship with stock Android and stricter minimum hardware requirements. Google must work with manufacturers to develop existing skins into applications that can be downloaded and updated from the market. Smart phones can ship preloaded with a skin, but the user should be able to uninstall it if desired. Manufacturers will be allowed to limit access to skins to their devices.

    Sounds almost too simple, doesn’t it? By effectively turning a skin like Sense UI into a large custom themed launcher, the user has the option of running stock on any device if they choose, and manufacturers get a differentiating edge. System updates will only be delayed from carrier tests, and skins can be updated later via the market. Yes, I realize that a minimum hardware requirement may initially contribute to fragmentation, but at some point, a hardware refresh is necessary in order to keep up with software advances. If the bar is set high enough, hardware will last for years instead of months.

    While there is no single, easy solution for such a large problem, many are hoping that Android 3.0 (Gingerbread) will be a big step in the right direction. Skins do bring variety to the Android experience, but also create a lot of baggage. Even with all of its quirks and issues, we have to give credit to Google for sticking to its guns. Under mounting pressure and backlash, Android remains as open as promised. Let’s hope that carriers and manufacturers don’t close the door.
     
  2. mattg1

    mattg1 Member

    Joined:
    Mar 3, 2010
    Messages:
    161
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    16
    Location:
    Franklin,Tn
    Ratings:
    +0
    I 100% agree I have been saying this since I first got my droid, let people choose if they want these skins. That's why I haven't upgraded because I cant get anything that compares to my OG droid with the vanilla experience (well that and my droid is still awesome).
     
  3. furbearingmammal

    furbearingmammal DF Super Moderator

    Joined:
    Jun 16, 2010
    Messages:
    10,348
    Likes Received:
    6
    Trophy Points:
    153
    Location:
    So far north in NY I smell maple syrup when the wi
    Ratings:
    +6
    Gingerbread is supposed to be a game changer. Let's see if it turns into FroYo.

    I pray not.
     
  4. Dave12308

    Dave12308 Silver Member

    Joined:
    Nov 15, 2009
    Messages:
    3,253
    Likes Received:
    50
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Ratings:
    +50
    To answer Patel, YES, we SHOULD have to rely on a launcher "created by some guy in his basement" - that is the WHOLE spirit of Android, to begin with. Open development. The apps included in the Android OS are designed to provide base functionality, and not much more. If you want something better, you do it yourself; or use something that someone else has created.

    I think people are getting too caught up with the iOS type user experience, where basically, WYSIWYG. Stock Android may not offer the best OOB experience, but the customizability is where its true beauty lies.
     
  5. JonDenver'sCopilot

    JonDenver'sCopilot Member

    Joined:
    May 27, 2010
    Messages:
    158
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    16
    Ratings:
    +0
    +1 Couldn't have said it better myself.
     
  6. tktouch12

    tktouch12 Active Member

    Joined:
    Nov 17, 2009
    Messages:
    1,240
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    36
    Ratings:
    +0
    i'd like to say i hate all the skins besides sense. i've used them all and i think sense really 'got it right' i like it better than stock or anything else.

    however, if you are on stock, launcher pro is a must. it is the best home replacement, is very customizable, and has great widgets that copy sense.
     
  7. Martin030908

    Martin030908 DF Super Moderator

    Joined:
    Nov 1, 2009
    Messages:
    8,773
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    151
    Ratings:
    +0
    Gingerbread is gearing more toward Google apps being updated more thru the Market vs. using massive firmware updates. It's an attempt to consolidate the 'fragmentation'.

    Google will try to create a 'blanket' look but manufacturers (ie HTC, Samsung) will always add in their own UI's. I don't see individual UI's going anywhere. It's marketing for each manufacturer.
     
  8. Chris-pee

    Chris-pee Member

    Joined:
    Dec 18, 2009
    Messages:
    177
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    16
    Ratings:
    +0
    You need to have an option. Boot with/without the skin. Simple as that!
     
  9. Martin030908

    Martin030908 DF Super Moderator

    Joined:
    Nov 1, 2009
    Messages:
    8,773
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    151
    Ratings:
    +0
    So simple it's brilliant, but we'll probably never get it :(
     
  10. jamezelle

    jamezelle Premium Member Premium Member Developer

    Joined:
    Apr 11, 2010
    Messages:
    620
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    16
    Ratings:
    +0

    I totally agree with you!!
     
  11. jroc

    jroc Silver Member

    Joined:
    Apr 9, 2010
    Messages:
    3,841
    Likes Received:
    61
    Trophy Points:
    163
    Location:
    Washington DC
    Ratings:
    +61
    What? HTC didnt put Sense UI on it? Hmmm.....okay. Good move HTC, good move.
     
  12. jroc

    jroc Silver Member

    Joined:
    Apr 9, 2010
    Messages:
    3,841
    Likes Received:
    61
    Trophy Points:
    163
    Location:
    Washington DC
    Ratings:
    +61
    Now I just read the G1 was vanilla Android too...WHY didnt Motorola do this with the Droid 2?!?! I'll give them a pass for the X, but the Droid 2 shoulda stayed vanilla too...
     
  13. alitke

    alitke Member

    Joined:
    Mar 20, 2010
    Messages:
    193
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    16
    Ratings:
    +0
    I have been saying this ever since my G1.

    Google needs to stay open with android but hardware specifications need to start being made so that people who simply buy a phone b/c its android stop complaining. The majority of buyers view all smartphones as the iPhone. They believe that the phone ships ready to be used for the full 2 years of their contract. Most android phones are currently out of date after only 5 months and many times far less.

    Android is a game changer to say the least but one of the big things that is harder to deal with is the fact that many consumers do not realize what a good processor is, or what internal memory is. They view everything to be like that of the iPhone in the case that it lasts the full term of the contract without upgrades. The iPhone also has updates that go out to every phone at the same time. Android has phones that take 5 months longer to upgrade than others.

    Lets say you are a family of 4 and each member of the family wants a different android phone. So you go home from your carriers store with 4 different flavors of android. Now lets say that mom or dad bought a low end android phone that only has a life of about 3 months and then it is not supported. Do you think that that family will probably ever buy another android phone? I have seen this with the Droid Eris many times in my area. Here only Verizon has service and a large number of families bought the Eris to save money instead of the Droid 1 and what they found was that they phone was extremely laggy and had a very short life. Now AT&T is starting service in this area as they now own Alltel here in Ohio. So what is happening? Well many families are buying the iPhone simply for the reason that they feel it will not be outdated and a waste of money after only a few short months.

    Hopefully this made sense as it is late and I am simply in complete agreement with the OP. As awesome as Android is it will be hard to survive in the minds of the masses as it currently is. In terms of people who view this site, we know the Eris was a low end phone as with many other phones, however, many people do not know what a processor is or if 400mhz is better than 1ghz.
     
  14. emic

    emic New Member

    Joined:
    Aug 31, 2010
    Messages:
    15
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    1
    Ratings:
    +0

    I think you're missing his greater point which is that we shouldn't HAVE to rely ONLY on a guy in a basement for a better experience. The various manufacturers should make their skins an option and not required. He's asking why it is that the manufacturers don't get involved in the "skins as an app" game rather than "skins as a requirement for this device and only this device" (whether you like it or not). We all agree that Google is all about the openness, so why not give everyone the option to get manufacturer x's skin, guy in basement's skin, or no skin at all. He's not against the guy in the basement, he's just making the point that there should be other options rather than forced skins.
     
  15. reaper keeper

    reaper keeper Member

    Joined:
    Dec 4, 2009
    Messages:
    46
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    6
    Location:
    Alamogordo NM
    Ratings:
    +0

    Emic.
    Perfect pirouette!!!!
    That is the point exactly, we need the manufactures in on the “skins” game, not just the guy in the basement.dancedroid
     
Search tags for this page

best android skin

,

best android skins

,
best looking android skin
,
d tech for android skin
,
the best skins for android
,
top android ios skin
,
why are ios skins different from android skins