Jan 4, 2012
Android manufacturers despise the stock Android experience. Why? Because if all Android phones were the same, why would people return to their brand? So, they introduce their own launchers and themes – Samsung has TouchWiz, HTC has Sense, to name a couple. The hope is that users get accustomed to that manufacturer’s customized experience, and then when their phone contract is up, they decide to stick with the brand.
However, Google wants to make sure that users can use the default Holo theme that is part of the stock Android 4.0 experience. Google is now requiring that devices that ship with Ice Cream Sandwich that also want access to the Android Market must offer access to the Holo theme that is the stock experience on ICS.
Carrier-customized themes will still be available, and apps have new mechanisms for which they can support these themes, through individual themes for the app based on which theme the user has selected.
The point of this move is quite simple: to help bring some uniformity to Android. Google wants users to be able to have the same experience no matter where they go, and for apps to be able to fit in with that experience, at least from a visual standpoint. They have a clear layout for what they want Android to be both functionally and visually with their Nexus devices, and from the curated experiences of Honeycomb tablets.
This move with Ice Cream Sandwich to help try and make the experiences more unified is ultimately good for users – it’s one of the greatest drawback of the operating system compared to iOS, where visual styles and mechanics are designed to be cohesive from service to service on the device. While Android by its nature is more open to theming and customization, it’s clear that Google is pushing for unification to some degree with their devices now, and users will be all the better off for it.