The Problem with the Android Ecosystem

I think that the main problem with the Android ecosystem can be summed up in one post on App.net. This one comes to us from Mikhail Madnani (@failgunner), in which he links to the stock Android keyboard on the Google Play store. He says “If you’re on Android (non nexus), this is the most accurate lag free keyboard https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.google.android.inputmethod.latin”.

I have nothing against Android at all. In fact, I believe that at this point it is comparable to iOS, and for some things much better. However, the problem with Android at this point isn’t the software or the devices, it’s the ecosystem that has evolved. It’s at the point where Google has to offer the keyboard that is default in Android OS on their own marketplace, because device manufacturers alter Android and remove it, compromising the experience. Apps like Samsung’s TouchWiz completely change the Android experience to the point where it’s hardly even Android anymore. Some would argue even that the software that runs on the Galaxy S devices is so far from stock Android as to be considered a port. I would have to agree with that sentiment.

Android itself is really great. There are a lot of spectacular things going on there. But, until device manufacturers stop destroying the Android experience, the ecosystem will continue to fracture and break apart.

This move away from a fracutred system has begun with the introduction of the GS4 running stock android. I really hope that more manufacturers move in that direction.

Arthur Rosa is an engineering manager based in Sunnyvale, California.