Android has the virtue of having a user interface that was already worked on heavily by Google’s engineers. Even though this makes the Android user interface one of the best currently in existence, several mobile phone companies like to add their own custom skin into the mix. An unaltered version of an Android UI is known as a vanilla build. There are several reasons for this.

The best Android games currently available (November 2018)

  1. Adventures of Mana
  2. After Burner Climax
  3. Alpha Betty Saga
  4. Angry Birds
  5. Angry Birds 2 [a]
  6. Angry Birds Epic
  7. Angry Birds Friends
  8. Angry Birds Go!
  9. Angry Birds Match
  10. Angry Birds Rio

Differentiating their products

One of the main reasons why mobile phone companies carry out skin customizations is because it differentiates their product from most of the other ones from other manufacturers. For example, several people prefer HTC’s Android skin, known as Sense. This skin would not be available on any other company’s handsets and a user who prefers Sense will surely have to go with HTC to get it.

With that, custom skins also good look for the specifications sheet of the device. If there is nothing written beside one device about its OS customizations while another device has something written like Android with Sense, an unknowing consumer would think that the OS customization is an additional feature of the device. As there are several people who are not that tech-savvy, the mobile phone company may take advantage of them using this product differentiation.

Adding features that Android lacks

Some companies have a history of using some software that has become unique to them. For example, Sony Ericsson introduced the Walkman phone which started a trend of combining MP3 players with mobile phones for product convergence. Thus, they would not want to lose this heritage by not including a custom application for music. Thus they went ahead and created Mediascape as to them the stock Android music player did not cut it.

Several companies add custom interfaces to bring more accessibility to the user. An example of this would be the Motoblur by Motorola which brings along several different widgets to the home screen such as Facebook, Twitter, and MySpace. Several of Motorola’s consumers prefer this option to the one that vanilla Android offers.

Keeping a control over the device options

Companies also prefer to deck out their Android versions so that they can optimize the phone settings and options according to their liking. If the phone uses a lot of battery running vanilla Android they may add their own customizations to the UI so that the battery consumption may decrease. This change would help consumers of their devices from shorter lasting batteries.

Thus in order to keep a tab on things as to maintain a good user experience, companies prefer to make changes to the default Android versions which may turn out to be a great experience or it could also become a nuisance for the consumers if not done correctly.

How developers can reduce the significance of fragmentation

Thus, the proper way to tackle the problem of different devices running different hardware would be to create two different applications for the same platform, with one being the lite version that would sacrifice graphics for smoother performance and would be compatible with all the phones. The second version could be the fully featured one which would require more powerful hardware. And as the newer devices being released have the increasingly better hardware, the issue of slow performance even on budget phones would decline exponentially. Along with that, with the average ownership period of smartphones roughly being around 1.5 years, those people who desire better performance would have bought better hardware as the time passes by.

All in all, people could state that Android will be destroyed by fragmentation, but the fact of the matter is that what is going on in the Android world regarding updates has been always going on in every other platform and will keep going on without it being a significant barrier in operability

Published by Joseph Nicholls