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Summary:

Details about Gingerbread are appearing on the web and it sounds like Google is trying to stem the fragmentation caused by having so many versions in the market. Kindle for Android was released this week, and a video look at the hot EVO 4G was published.

Details about Android 3.0 — aka Gingerbread — are already appearing on the web, and it sounds like Google is trying to stem the fragmentation caused by having so many versions of its platform in the market. One reason for this image of fragmentation is the special interface enhancements some vendors are putting on their Android phones, and a major change to appear in Gingerbread is a locked-down user interface that will give Android a more uniform look. This will certainly help the platform’s image with consumers, but it does raise concerns as to whether or not these limitations will restrict handset makers from creating brands through interface enhancements, such as HTC’s Sense and Samsung’s TouchWiz.

Amazon created a platform around the Kindle reader by producing apps for smartphones that can use content in the Kindle book store without requiring the electronic reader. The Kindle app for the iPhone has been well received, which in turn caused Android phone owners to wonder if Amazon was ever going to release a reader app for that platform. It finally appeared this week, bringing Android into parity with the iPhone and BlackBerry. Kindle for Android incorporates the Whispersync technology that keeps consumer’s purchases and bookmarks synchronized across multiple reading devices. This makes it possible to read a Kindle book on the iPad, and then switch to an Android phone and pick up automatically where you left off.

The HTC EVO 4G on the Sprint network has been very popular since its release last month. Sprint sold out of existing stock at least twice, due to the high sales volume. I shot a video of the EVO 4G in action that gives a good overview of the superphone and demonstrates why it is so popular. Its large 4.3-inch display, as well as its front-facing camera that competes with that of the iPhone 4, makes the EVO 4G is the hottest Android phone currently available. The video also gives a bonus look at the AMOLED screen technology used in the Droid Incredible phone alongside the conventional LCD display of the EVO 4G.

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  1. Eliminating custom UIs could possibly be the worst thing Google could do; the extra layer of competition (i.e., Android phone builders need to beat the other Android UIs and the rest of the market) would be gone, and innovation in the Android platform would decelerate. If Android innovation decelerates, Google doesn’t stand a chance against its competitors in the smartphone market.

    If anybody’s noticed, Android offerings over the last two years have become more attractive at an alarming rate. It would be destructive to slow down.

    1. Do you want that kind of “innovation” on your Windows 7, too?

      At best manufacturers should only be allowed to create some kind of skins and addons for Android 3.0 that don’t interfere with Android code. So when next version of Android appears, all the phones could be updated by Google, without breaking the skins and the addons manufacturers put in there. Perhaps Google needs to create a tool for them to do all that, if they really care so much about their precious customization.

      Anyway, I believe this kind of innovation slowdown you mention for UI will only happen after most people agree that Android UI has surpassed iOS UI.

    2. I agree with Lucian, the UI should be separate from the core OS code making updates that much easier to implement.

      I think having a standard UI that’s better than the current one would greatly help Android. Especially if the do testing with the average non-geek user to get a feel for how they want to use the device. Apple’s UI on the iPhone is successful because almost anyone can pick up the iPhone and almost instantly know how to use it. Android needs that kind of intuitive interface.

      1. I feel I have to be completely honest here. If it is a matter of pick up and use, then they should shift their core OS UI closer to what HTC has created. It took me literally months to learn to do everything my last smartphone could do. With my EVO, it was nearly instantaneous.
        You do make a good point however.

  2. Android is becoming very popular indeed, & honstly – I like it, but but would you trust Google with your personal data on your device? Google have already been caught “sniffing” residential wlan traffic whilst they scanned the streets for their streetview service.
    What would they be scanning off your personal device without your knowledge.

    1. Really?

      You sound like the Glenn Beck of mobile OSs. Google didn’t do anything illegal, they sniffed traffic that anyone passing by could have sniffed. You broadcast something unencrypted, you should expect it to be intercepted.

      1. So true! I have heard people compare picking up someone’s unencrypted wifi to picking up what someone throws out into the street. Hacking encrypted wifi would be breaking and entering.

        Furthermore, Google was unaware the traffic had been sniffed. I believe this because they outed themselves when they realized it had happened. They were not outed by news media or discovered doing it. No coverup occurred.

  3. I think eliminating custom UIs would be the BEST thing google could do, as others have mentioned, updates can happen all at once without having to wait 9 freaking years for the vendor to release an update, not to mention I personally cant stand certain ones like sense and touchwiz (touchwiz was the deal breaker for me for the galaxy s phones) I had a nexus one and LOVED how it didnt have a crap overlay

    1. And I have an HTC EVO 4G and I love the SenseUI from HTC. The point of open source–especially open source with an Apache license–is to allow freedom. That means allowing handset and tablet makers to choose between the stock UI or a build of their own. If enough people don’t want a handset developer’s UI, they’ll change it. That’s basic economics.

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