Linked by Thom Holwerda on Tue 15th Oct 2013 21:53 UTC
Google

The stock launcher in Android 4.4 is getting a version number bump - from 3.x to 4.x - and it's also renamed to Google Experience. On top of that, something interesting is happening.

There's another interesting thing happening here. If you take a look at stock Android 4.3, you will see that the current launcher's package name is com.android.launcher. The new one is com.google.android.gel. Now look at Google's current selection of apps in the Play Store. Almost all of them start with "com.google.android" instead of "com.android."

[...]

I'm not saying with 100% certainty that we're going to see the launcher released to the Play Store, but to me, it certainly looks like it. At least eventually and not necessarily with KitKat.

Other currently integrated parts of Android also receive the name change in their packages. It seems like Google is finally doing what it should have done ages ago. If you can't get device makers and carriers to update Android, just put as much of Android as possible in the Play Store. If this also allows crapware-riddled devices from e.g. Samsung to be converted to proper stock, then that's a big plus too.

Please let this be true.

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no converting devices
by darknexus on Tue 15th Oct 2013 21:57 UTC
darknexus
Member since:
2008-07-15

You'll not be able to fully convert other devices to vanilla Android, but you might at least be able to get the Vanilla Android user interface. However, manufacturer-specific API modifications and the like will remain in place.

Reply Score: 2

RE: no converting devices
by Morgan on Tue 15th Oct 2013 22:24 UTC in reply to "no converting devices"
Morgan Member since:
2005-06-29

This. I installed the Google keyboard and Nova launcher to bring my HTC One's UI as close to stock as possible. The crappy Settings interface is still there, but it's a much faster and smoother device now. And I can type with minimal frustration too!

Reply Score: 4

RE: no converting devices
by steve_s on Wed 16th Oct 2013 09:16 UTC in reply to "no converting devices"
steve_s Member since:
2006-01-16

So very this.

The manufacturer-specific API modifications are what makes Android for me, as a developer, a mine-field, and a deeply unpleasant experience.

I've written apps for customers that work fine on all of our devices, which are generally running stock Android. The nature of these apps is that they tend to rely heavily on WebView. Samsung, in their great wisdom, have made modifications to their WebView which can break touch interaction on scrolling elements.

Not only do developers have to deal with the fact that brand new devices running Android 2.3 are being sold (or that those devices that do run Android 4 don't get updates to 4.3), we also have to worry bugs that manufacturers have introduced.

Reply Score: 2

Interesting to see how this evolves
by Tony Swash on Tue 15th Oct 2013 22:27 UTC
Tony Swash
Member since:
2009-08-22

On the one hand carriers want customisation and differentiation, they have no interest in being just another seller of a stock experience, and why should the.

On the other hand Google wants to make sure that it can ensure maximum roll out of it's services and apps, that is the basic function of Android for Google.

I wonder if Google can get what it wants whilst allowing carriers and OEMs to get what they want. And what that would do for the end user.

Interesting to see how this evolves.

Reply Score: 7

darknexus Member since:
2008-07-15

On the one hand carriers want customisation and differentiation, they have no interest in being just another seller of a stock experience, and why should the.

Sounds to me like this is how they'll do an end-run around that problem. Once the users get their phone they can install whatever they want be that launchers, keyboards, etc. This is already something a lot of Android users do, so I don't see how having yet one more launcher or keyboard will even concern the carriers or OEMs. They can still do whatever they want to their devices, and the users are still able to do as they wish once they get them.

Reply Score: 4

ddc_ Member since:
2006-12-05

On the one hand carriers want customisation and differentiation, they have no interest in being just another seller of a stock experience, and why should the.

Flawed logic: if all vendors customize the product, stock experience isn't the lack of differentiation any more - it is another way of differentiation. And this way isn't a bad one, taking in account the view that vendors' customisation and differentiation efforts damage the product instead of improving it. Given that this view appears to be predominant on internet, carriers shouldn't want to compete in removing value from the products they offer.

Reply Score: 3

Kalessin Member since:
2007-01-18

On the one hand carriers want customisation and differentiation, they have no interest in being just another seller of a stock experience, and why should the.


That's exactly what I want a carrier to be: a dumb pipe. IHMO, they shouldn't even be selling the phones. Ideally, the phones would be completely disconnected from the carrier, and the carrier's whole job would be in providing a reliable, dumb pipe for talk, text, and data. Any differentiation on the part of the carrier with regards to the phones is a huge negative IMHO. They should be differentiating on price and quality of service.

Now, unfortunately, due the differences in technologies and frequencies across carriers, we're far from being able to have the phones be completely carrier-agnostic (at least in the US), but that should be the goal IMHO, and any attempts on the part of carriers to do anything to the phones at all beyond sell them is a detriment to consumers.

It's bad enough that manufacturers are screwing with stock android rather than just selling stock android with additional apps in the app store (which possibly just work with their phones). I sure don't want the carriers throwing yet more junk on the phones like they seem to like to do. I bought my phone from the app store specifcally because both the carriers and manufacturers insist on screwing with the phones rather than providing stock android with all of their add-ons being purely optional.

Reply Score: 3

Comment by ddc_
by ddc_ on Wed 16th Oct 2013 00:46 UTC
ddc_
Member since:
2006-12-05

I doubt that Google is motivated with its will to offer stock experience to end users. More likely they just try to make security updates and bug fixes easier to deliver to the customers.

When I started using Android phone, Google had its apps package including Gmail, maps, Talk, etc. all excluively delivered via vendors. Then they started splitting apps from the package to the Google Play one by one, and now only the Google Account actually remains out of Google Play (which is quite logical, given that Play itself depends on Account). I believe they just started doing the same for apps from stock Android, and if so, likely we are to see the amount of stock apps rapidly decreasing in next releases.

If so, Google actually works in quite the opposite direction to what the article suggests - it makes the system more modular by offloading stock experience into user-installable apps and providing vendors (and carriers) with slimmer foundation to build their custom experience upon.

Reply Score: 3

Developer Experience
by moondevil on Wed 16th Oct 2013 06:50 UTC
moondevil
Member since:
2005-07-08

What I am looking forward since a few Android releases:

- Improve Dalvik (GC and JIT)

- Update Java, the language, to version 7

- Provide a NDK that isn't a second class citzen

- Maybe bring Dart or Go to Android as well

- Better gaming libraries on the SDK, similar to what iOS has

However with each Google IO and Android release, nothing changes, only more Google web API stuff gets added.

Reply Score: 5

RE: Developer Experience
by FunkyELF on Wed 16th Oct 2013 12:06 UTC in reply to "Developer Experience"
FunkyELF Member since:
2006-07-26

- Provide a NDK that isn't a second class citzen

- Maybe bring Dart or Go to Android as well


I'm all for adding new languages but they should be able to be compiled like renderscript is, into an agnostic llvm bytecode.

Look at all the ARM specific stuff that won't run on Intel based Android.

Reply Score: 2

RE[2]: Developer Experience
by ddc_ on Wed 16th Oct 2013 12:30 UTC in reply to "RE: Developer Experience"
ddc_ Member since:
2006-12-05

I'm all for adding new languages but they should be able to be compiled like renderscript is, into an agnostic llvm bytecode.

NDK could just build packages for all supported architecture. IIRC go readily comes with compilers for multiple architectures.

FWIW Google could even accept packages in a "fat" format and split them into per-architecture Play packages during verification stage.

Reply Score: 1

RE[3]: Developer Experience
by reduz on Wed 16th Oct 2013 12:59 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: Developer Experience"
reduz Member since:
2006-02-25

NDK Already supports that since a long time, just throw your .so in the respective architecture dir and you can make a simple .apk that works on arm and x86, or even armv7 and armv6 together.

Reply Score: 2

RE[4]: Developer Experience
by ddc_ on Wed 16th Oct 2013 13:52 UTC in reply to "RE[3]: Developer Experience"
ddc_ Member since:
2006-12-05

I should have stressed more that I would like NDK to build packages for all supported platforms by default.

Reply Score: 1

RE[2]: Developer Experience
by moondevil on Wed 16th Oct 2013 13:08 UTC in reply to "RE: Developer Experience"
moondevil Member since:
2005-07-08

Look at all the ARM specific stuff that won't run on Intel based Android.


By default, when using the NDK toolchain binaries are produced to all supported processors.

As for Renderscript, I don't know anyone using it, because it is not portable across mobile platforms.

Reply Score: 3

Re:
by kurkosdr on Wed 16th Oct 2013 08:09 UTC
kurkosdr
Member since:
2011-04-11

Samsung to be converted to proper stock


Not exactly, there are uninstallable manufacturer and carrier apps, but you could get close to stock.

Reply Score: 2

Vanilla launcher too limited
by sj87 on Thu 17th Oct 2013 10:39 UTC
sj87
Member since:
2007-12-16

I rooted my Galaxy S2 phone because I wanted a newer Android. I was completely satisfied with the functionality of the TouchWiz shell.

When I bought the 2013-spec Nexus 7 tab, however, I had to root it and put Cyanogen on it, because the vanilla launcher was too god damn limited.

Reply Score: 2

Comment by satan666
by satan666 on Fri 18th Oct 2013 19:43 UTC
satan666
Member since:
2008-04-18

I would be awesome if Google released an app that resets the OS on your device to pure vanilla Android.

Reply Score: 2