Android has spread. As head of Android, Sundar Pichai said in his blog post announcing Android Lollipop this morning ‘it’s designed to be shared’, but so far, Google hasn’t really shared access to Android Wear, or other upcoming Android platforms: TV or Auto, but that could change according to Google’s Vice President of engineering Hiroshi Lockheimer.
In an interview with Re/Code, Lockheimer has said that the reason for the initial lockdown was to ensure that Google had the basics right before allowing OEMs to customise these new platforms. The first company to show signs of customisation on Android Wear will be seen on the upcoming Asus ZenWatch.
Instead of skins, OEMs are being steered towards customised apps pre-installed on a stock Android OS, something that we’ve seen on the newly launched Android One platform. On Android One, manufacturers can pre-install apps on the phone which are available from Google Play.
Of course, some platforms like Android Auto may be better off left ‘unsullied’ but not because of any great design. Apparently Google has worked with agencies like the NTSB in the US to make the interface less ‘distracting’, but then again maybe an OEM could do better.
Exactly how ‘open’ these new platforms will be remains to be seen. When they released parts of Android required by the GPL to AOSP, Google advised that a ‘full platform push’ would be made once Android L (now known as Lollipop) is released. Now that Lollipop is announced, we should see a push to AOSP shortly and then we’ll see how much of Android Wear is made available.
How customised do you want to see Android Wear, Auto and TV?
Preventing manufacturers from changing the OS and its appearance and functions MUST be prevented at all costs.
Putting a different launcher/face on the device, that’s acceptable. But crap that sinks its claws into and right throughout the OS, like TouchWiz, that MUST be prevented.
NO!!! Please don’t let them change the OEM’s change the OS. I suppose you have to really, but I hope they put measures in place to not allow it to get out of control. Android by it’s nature has proven to be a breeding ground for some very innovative hardware… and some woefull software ‘skins’.