Android co-founder says wireless carriers should spend more time and money customizing interfaces for Android phones

What was that? Everybody put your hands over your ears now, especially the carriers. At the Open Mobile Summit conference, Google Ventures General Partner and Android co-founder Rich Miner said that carrers should spend more time and money creating unique interfaces for Android phones. He’s actually surprised that carriers like Verizon and AT&T haven’t put more time into it. He points to the fact that Android is open and that anyone can modify it to their heart’s content. True, but that doesn’t mean they should.

“There’s a big opportunity that they seem to have left on the table,” Miner said. “I’m a little curious as to why” carriers haven’t done more to customize their Android phones.

We have already seen wireless carrier stuff over the years. For example, Sprint introduced Sprint ID, which packages Android apps, ringtones, and wallpapers based on themes. Sprint also collaborated with Google Voice as the only carrier to offer the ability for subscribers to use their current number with Google Voice. T-Mobile has aded VoIP calling as well as Lookout Mobile Security. The difference with these is that they aren’t changing the Android UI, they are add ons.

We haven’t seen true customizations until now. AT&T’s version of the LG Optimus G has a different settings menu. It’s more tabbed and I would imagine this was a directive by AT&T, which is ludicrous. Could we see more of this and more importantly, should we see more of this? Absolutely not. It’s one thing for the manufacturers to offer all of these customizations, but why should the carriers? Does anyone think for a second that consumers will change carriers because their Galaxy S III has some unique feature in it? How many subscribers switched to Sprint for Sprint ID. Lets hope this is something that dies down quickly.

source: fierce mobile


About the Author: Robert Nazarian

Robert lives in upstate New York where he was born and raised. Technology was always his passion. His first computer was a Radio Shack TRS80 Color that used a cassette tape to save programs, and his first laptop was a Toshiba T1200FB that sported a CGA greyscale screen and two 720kb floppy drives (no hardrive). From the early 90’s through late 2011, he only owned Motorola phones starting with the MircroTAC all the way through to the Droid X. He broke that streak when he bought the Galaxy Nexus. Now he's sporting a Galaxy Note 4, and absolutely loves it. He has a wonderful wife and a 6 year old son. In his free time he enjoys sports, movies, TV, working out, and trying to keep up with the rapid fast world of technology.

  • Shaith

    Very bad idea. Too much bloat already, and I just switched to Android from Apple. Last thing I’d want is more bloat from AT&T (or any other carrier)

  • Josh

    Manufacturer/carrier skins really need to be decoupled from the rest of the system in such a way that they can be installed/uninstalled/updated independently of the core OS.

    A second feature that would help, would be a special section of the Play store specifically for carrier/manufacturer apps and skins. Such apps would have the requirement of being fully uninstallable from the devices in question, but remain available for download to an eligible device at any time.

    Put together, these things would allow the sort of differentiation that carriers and manufacturers want, while preventing end users from being stuck with unwanted modifications. Even better, the sort of decoupling described above would greatly reduce the time required to get OS updates in place.

  • lostsync

    I’ve actually kind of wondered this, too…look at MIUI. It’s barely recognizable as Android, but still maintains compatibility with the Play Store. It’s a totally unique piece of software, not just a bad theme and some bloatware. The opportunity exists to do some really amazing things with the Android source, but nobody’s really taking it. A crappy overlay is bad for Android, but if OEMs were taking the source and truly innovating with it, I think a lot of people would be way more OK with carrier/manufacturer customizations.

    Some people will always prefer stock; that’s why we have the Nexus line. Personally, I just like cool, good looking software. Of availabe options, stock Android is, to me, the coolest and best looking, but it’s totally possible to make something better than stock…just isn’t being done.