Google has revealed that it won’t permit smartwatch or TV manufacturers to tinker with the company’s new unified Android interface.
One of the distinguishing features of the Android OS for smartphones and tablets has been its open nature, allowing third party manufacturers and developers to modify its front end at will.
On the one hand, this has permitted greater differentiation between efforts from Samsung, HTC, Sony and co. On the other hand, it has led to high levels of software fragmentation and an often less-than-optimal user experience.
Google won’t allow manufacturers similar freedom with Android Wear, Android TV, or Android Auto.
Talking with Ars Technica, Google engineering director David Burke has revealed that Google is locking down the wider Android experience. All three new Android initiatives announced at Google I/O last week will have their user interfaces controlled by Google rather than hardware manufacturers.
Talking about Android TV in particular, Burke noted that “We want to just have a very consistent user experience, so if you have one TV in one room and another TV in another room and they both say Android TV, we want them to work the same and look the same.”
Burke also confirmed that software updates would be handled by Google directly, rather than leaving it to individual manufacturers. He likened the operation to Google’s own Chrome web browser for desktop computers, where updates are made quickly and quietly, often without the user even noticing.
Those attracted to Google’s open approach to OS design may need to look elsewhere in future, as it looks set to apply tighter constraints to the Android experience.
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