With the pending release of Android 2.2 (FroYo), Google has pretty much addressed all the core features the community was asking for. So what is the main focus for the next version of Android? According to TechCrunch, the Android team is “laser focused” on improving the user experience for the next release (codenamed Gingerbread).
In the early days of Android, Google encouraged handset makers to add their own customizations and the result was the UI layers like HTC’s Sense, Motorola’s Motoblur, and Samsung’s TouchWiz. Now Google wants to improve the user experience to a point that ends the desire for handset manufacturers and carriers to create their own.
Whether you love or hate the custom UI skins, I think we can all agree that they slow down the update process when a new version of Android is released by Google. It took HTC around six months to upgrade their Sense UI phones to Android 2.1 and we are still waiting on Motorola to send out the Android 2.1 upgrade for all their Motoblur devices.
Another reason to focus on the user experience is all the non-smartphone devices that are targeting a release later this year. Tablets, TVs, and other gadgets will feature displays much larger (or smaller) than a phone and the user interface needs to adapt accordingly.
Overall I’m quite happy with the user experience delivered in Android 2.2, but I would like to see a release that allows handset makers to modify the look and feel of Android without having to change the underlying framework. I don’t want to see custom skins disappear, but we need a better system that allows users to receive firmware updates in a timely manner without waiting on the handset maker to update their code.
What user experience changes would you like to see implemented in the next release of Android?