Posts Tagged ‘Branding’

Manufacturer’s custom UIs for Android

November 20, 2011

Since a couple of weeks ago all the attentions turned into the new Android 4.0 release, called Ice Cream Sandwich, and the new Samsung flagship model, the Galaxy Nexus, but some may have noticed that Samsung is apparently rolling out for some European i9000 Galaxy S handsets the Android 2.3.5 firmware update, available through Samsung’s Kies software.

While it is great to watch Samsung still providing support for last year’s flagship model, it’s quite disappointing to realize that this phone, one and a half year after being released, is still plagued with some issues.

One of the problems is that the custom TouchWiz UI was never really rock-solid stable. Even after installing the latest Android 2.3.5, the TouchWiz launcher occasionally crashes as you can see below.

It’s not as bad as in Android 2.1 or 2.2 when I had to pull the battery off the phone because it crashed completely, specially after playing a game such as Angry Birds for more than 15 minutes, but I believe there’s still a lot of work that needs to be done.

I really do not understand what’s the point in not using Google’s Android standard launcher and spend time, money and resources working on a custom UI like TouchWiz, offering a less good user experience, decreased stability and increased memory consumption.

The only Android manufacturer custom UI that seems to offer some benefits in the UX department, in my opinion, is HTC’s Sense UI although the memory consumption is probably even higher than in Samsung’s TouhWiz, but maybe that’s why HTC’s are very generous in the amount of memory they usually pack inside their phones.

Branded Android smartphones

September 17, 2011

Some (or probably most) carriers around the world sell their Android devices with custom firmwares that usually bring the operator’s applications and branded theme. This allows the customer to use some of the carrier specific services.

The problem is that most of the times branding:

– implies the phone is always running some background process or services which always use some RAM and CPU cycles even when you don’t use or need it, as you can see below

– is frequently not very well implemented, so the phone is usually slower or unstable as you can see in the next picture

In case the customer doesn’t want to use the carrier services, or want to free some memory, or save the CPU some unnecessary work, in most cases he just can’t simply uninstall the software since that possibility is most of the times disabled!

If carrier’s want to put their own software in the devices it’s their choice to do that, but I believe everyone would be happier with, at least, an uninstall option to remove some of the bloatware they usually end up putting in the phones. Besides that, they can always provide the customer with the option to install the operator’s software from the Android Market. I think that would serve better everyone’s interest!