Thursday, May 9, 2013

Should Google bother with software features in the next version of android?

Should Google bother with software features in JB 4.3/KLP? It's my opinion that they shouldn't. Sounds crazy, but hear me out.

ICS 4.0 was mostly about the redesign of android, but as far as specific software features, the big one was supposed to be the almighty "face unlock". If you haven't herd of it, I don't blame you. The hype sizzled out pretty quick. It is still there though under - system settings > security and in the top unlock options. The idea was that you woke your phone up, it would turn on the front camera and when it regognized your face it would unlock your android.

Jelly Bean 4.1 didn't really being any specific features (Google Now was really just an update to the search app, not a new system feature)... But Jelly Bean 4.2's biggest software feature was PhotoSphere.  Again, like Face Unlock, it is actually a phenomenal idea - stitch together a bunch of pictures to get a single 360° panorama picture. However, also like Face Unlock, most users don't use this feature after the "ohh, shiny!" feeling wears off.

So, in my opinion, Google should leave features out of stock Android and leave that for manufacturers to add in (because let's face it - the OEMs do it much better). I know I'm not alone in feeling that stock Android should be (as much as possible) a simple, nearly blank canvas on which experienced users create their ideal phone experience on. Let's face it - most stock Android users are savvy enough to install their favorite launcher, so why not keep all the features/bloat out, and give users the maximum storage space available?

I'd be interested to hear what you think, there is a comments section below or you can find the link to this article on Reddit and discuss there.

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Hopes, Dreams, and predictions for JB/KLP

It seems that the Android team often takes hints from separate developers when it comes to their development of Android. Such examples are the "gesture keyboard" (started by Swype), screenshots (was widely available everywhere besides stock android), and data usage stats (made popular through apps such as 3G Watchdog).

So, what are developers doing now, and could they possibly be helping shape the future of Android?

I've noticed a whole ton more gestures.

I'm a launcher lover, and my current is Action Launcher which is extremely heavy on gestures. First off, you can turn folders into 'covers', which lets you cover a folder with an app. Touching the cover (the app icon) opens the app, however swiping up opens the folder. Also, there are 'shutters', which let you swipe up from an app icon to open the corresponding widget.

Other launchers such as Nova Launcher also has support for many gestures, each which can be set to perform an action (from quick launching apps to toggling UI elements such as the dock, and quick dialing a number, just to name a few...).

There is a very good chance that in Jelly Bean 4.3 there will be more of an emphasis on gestures, especially because that's the way Google's 'holo' scheme seems to be going.

Google wants you to become more heavily invested in the Android ecosystem.

It's obvious - Google wants you to stay in Androidland. They are in the process of releasing Google Glass, which is based off Android but is mainly used in conjunction wile connected to an Android phone. People are going to use glass, and to make the most of it they'll need to stick with Android.

Google Now has been a major pull - you now have no reason to go searching for anything. Instead, Google will bring it to you...using their services.

I'm expecting the next version of Android to bring an even more inclusive experience. Google has reportedly been working on a 'Game Center', which would really help users get attached to games and other apps, and again get everybody to use Google's all-inclusive services as opposed to any other ecosystem.

We are going to see the next version of Android on May 15 at Google's annual developer conference, Google I/O. But until then...

What do you think we'll get in Jelly Bean 4.3/Key Lime Pie 5.0? Do you have any ridiculous hopes? Let me know in the comments.