Jan 25 AT 12:30 PM Nick Sarafolean 22 Comments

What sets Android apart?

Android 4.4 Kitkat

In order to make something great, it has to have something that sets it apart. In the tech world, this definitely holds true. With a Nexus phone, it’s the software. With a Galaxy Note device, it’s the size and specialized features. So what is Android’s stand-out feature?

Flexibility. When it comes to operating systems, there’s really no other operating system on the market than can match the flexibility of Android. It is possible to argue that some of the other Linux-based operating systems technically can match it in flexibility, but you’re probably going to need some serious technical knowledge to achieve the same results. Android makes it easy to customize your phone and change things up the way you like.

Let’s start with a basic flexibility factor: the homescreen. Android has a simple homescreen layout that stays the same across most devices. But if you don’t like that homescreen set-up, there’s nothing to stop you from changing it up entirely. Launchers are widely available that entirely change your homescreen. There are launchers that simply change it to a stock Android layout such as Nova Launcher. Then there are launchers like Chameleon Launcher that convert it into something else entirely.

Rather than changing the homescreen as a whole, you can change individual aspects of the homescreen. Just yesterday, we previewed Lumos, one of the latest icon packs to hit the market. Icon packs are one of the many ways with which you can change your homescreen. The layout can be fully changed, and widgets can be added, resized and customized to your heart’s content. With Android, you can craft your perfect homescreen.

Deeper into the software, the entire OS can be changed. Practically any operating system that’s built on a Linux core can be made to run on an Android device. This is one of the most important features of Android. It’s spawned an enormous amount of alternative operating systems that are both based off Android and that simply run off a Linux core. The entire modding community behind popular custom ROMs such as CyanogenMod and Paranoid Android depend on this feature. It’s one of the golden pieces of the customizability puzzle.

Outside of software, customizable hardware is beginning to become a reality with Android. With the operating system being so flexible, it’s entirely viable to have modular hardware. That’s exactly what the plan behind Motorola’s Project Ara is. Modular hardware that’s entirely open-source can be paired with the open-source software that is Android. Theoretically, you could create the exact phone of your dreams with the flexibility of modular hardware and software. Best of all, it’s completely flexible to be changed whenever you feel the urge.

This flexibility is advertised, but it could be sold much more. Android’s flexibility is its golden feature–the highlight of the entire operating system. Google and manufacturers need to underscore that and make consumers aware of everything that their Android device can do. They need to show consumers that what they see isn’t just what they get.

Time for your input. Are you in agreement that Android’s best feature is its flexibility? Or is it something else?

A nerd at heart, Nick is an average person who has a passion for all things electronic. When not spending his time writing about the latest gadgets, Nick enjoys reading, dabbling in photography, and experimenting with anything and everything coffee. Should you wish to know more about him, you can follow him on Twitter @Zricon15.

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