Feeds

Conformist Google: Android devices must LOOK, WORK ALIKE

Demands watch, TV, and car makers stick to default UI

Intelligent flash storage arrays

Don't expect to see "skins" like HTC Sense or Samsung TouchWiz on kit made with Google's new versions of Android for devices, a source familiar with the company's plans has said.

Much like how Google is forcing device makers to stick to the default UI if they want to carry its new Android Silver brand, gadgets running Android Auto, Android TV, and Android Wear will also all look more or less the same.

In an interview, Google engineering director David Burke said that unlike the smartphone market, where the company has so far given OEMs a lot of room to customize the UIs of their products, Google wants Android TV to be instantly recognizable.

"The UI is more part of the product in this case," Burke told Ars Technica. "We want to just have a very consistent user experience, so if you have one TV in one room and another TV in another room and they both say Android TV, we want them to work the same and look the same."

So while LG, Samsung, and Sony might all make their own, branded Android TV sets, the interface that you see onscreen will be the same for all three products – and that will be true for Android-powered wearables and in-auto systems, too.

Doubtless that means you can expect them all to carry a UI based on Google's new "Material Design" visual language, which the online ad giant unveiled at its Google I/O developer conference earlier this month.

The company has said that it plans to use Material Design to deliver a unified look and feel across all of its products, including phones, the Chrome browser, and even web applications like Gmail.

But having a standardized UI doesn't mean Google won't let device makers do anything to differentiate their products. It's just that the differences must be subtle.

For example, Burke pointed to a Google web page listing the apps that come preinstalled on various Android Wear smartwatches that are supplied by the manufacturers, rather than by Google. Useful apps like heart monitors and compasses are OK – out-and-out bloatware isn't.

Burke also said that manufacturers may choose to bundle "services" with their products. What that means exactly isn't clear, but hopefully it will lead to something more useful than the so-called services LG provides with its smart TVs – namely, spyware and an ad network.

One service manufacturers won't be providing, however, is software updates. Burke said that Google plans to manage that itself, pushing out security fixes to Android devices automatically and seamlessly, like it does for the Chrome browser.

So when can we expect to see all this conformist kit? Google announced the first three smartwatches running Android Wear at I/O – from LG, Motorola, and Samsung – but LG's and Samsung's don't start shipping to the general public until early July, and Motorola's won't show up until later this summer. As for when the first Android-powered TVs and cars will arrive, that's still anybody's guess. ®

Top 5 reasons to deploy VMware with Tegile

More from The Register

next story
Don't wait for that big iPad, order a NEXUS 9 instead, industry little bird says
Google said to debut next big slab, Android L ahead of Apple event
Netscape Navigator - the browser that started it all - turns 20
It was 20 years ago today, Marc Andreeesen taught the band to play
A drone of one's own: Reg buyers' guide for UAV fanciers
Hardware: Check. Software: Huh? Licence: Licence...?
Jaguar Sportbrake: The chicken tikka masala of van-sized posh cars
Indian-owned Jag's latest offering curries favour with us
The Apple launch AS IT HAPPENED: Totally SERIOUS coverage, not for haters
Fandroids, Windows Phone fringe-oids – you wouldn't understand
Apple SILENCES Bose, YANKS headphones from stores
The, er, Beats go on after noise-cancelling spat
Here's your chance to buy an ancient, working APPLE ONE
Warning: Likely to cost a lot even for a Mac
Xiaomi boss snaps back at Jony Ive's iPhone rival 'theft' swipe
I'll have a handset delivered. Judge us after you try us...
prev story

Whitepapers

Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Why cloud backup?
Combining the latest advancements in disk-based backup with secure, integrated, cloud technologies offer organizations fast and assured recovery of their critical enterprise data.
Win a year’s supply of chocolate
There is no techie angle to this competition so we're not going to pretend there is, but everyone loves chocolate so who cares.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Intelligent flash storage arrays
Tegile Intelligent Storage Arrays with IntelliFlash helps IT boost storage utilization and effciency while delivering unmatched storage savings and performance.