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As the pending barrage of Android tablets approaches, a few questions come to mind. The most important and obvious deal with hardware. What processors or how much memory will your favorite tablet have? Will it have front- and rear-facing cameras? Recently though, there has been some talk of software and what user interface different Android tablets will ship with.

A few days ago, a rumor was spread that the Motorola's XOOM would ship with MOTORBLUR, but Moto (thankfully) put a quick end to that. Now, HTC's rumored tablet may be sporting a tablet-optimized version of Sense UI called Sensation. We already know all about the Galaxy Tab; it wears a modified version of Samsung's TouchWiz. All of these skins have unique benefits on phones – especially for newbies – but are they necessary or even wanted on tablets?

We got a little preview of Honeycomb back at CES, and I have to admit, I'm digging the new look to Android. Google has stepped up their game and turned their tablet version of Android into a very fluid and clean OS. They modified it, gave it a more desktop-like feel, and added quite a few features in homescreen customization. Sense UI is undoubtedly my favorite custom skin, and I feel it is great for phones. But after seeing the preview of Honeycomb, I'm almost positive I don't want any trace of Sense UI, Sensation, or TouchWiz on a Honeycomb tablet.

Having TouchWiz on the Galaxy Tab definitely made the experience a little more fulfilling, but it was running on top of a version of Android that wasn't meant for tablets. If and when the Galaxy Tab gets Honeycomb, it will be interesting to see exactly how Samsung integrates the interface. The same goes for Sensation. It's hard to anticipate how these custom skins will look over a completely overhauled UI. The only thing I feel that they will bring to Android that Honeycomb doesn't already offer is some very nice widgets. Decent widgets is something stock Android has always lacked. The extra real estate on a tablet's display definitely calls for something a little more exciting than a few dull icons. If Sensation or the next iteration of TouchWiz offer some nice widgets to use, the skins may be worthwhile.

Hopefully we will get a glimpse of Sensation or a skinned version of Honeycomb at Mobile World Congress and we'll have a little more to go on. For the time being though, my vote goes for stock Honeycomb on tablets. What do you think? Should Android tablets come with custom skins, or should they be left alone?


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47 Reactions to this post

"Should Android tablets have custom user interfaces?"


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Ronnae Dominique I say no. I have no interest in Tablets, if I win 1, ok, but as far as me spending money on 1, its not gonna happen. Between my laptop, netbook, smartphone, and PS3, I have enough devices that can get online, and stream vids and music. I'm not planning on buying the Xoom, but if Moto would have put Motoblur on it, it would be a definite No, haha
Kyle Lippard It would be nice if they would make interfaces that wouldn't mess up their product cycle. Make them Like Launcher pro et al where they could be installed on any device. They come free on the Manufacturer's but may $5 on other devices. If I could get a good tablet launcher right now it would be awesome. Stock home doesn't work on a 10" screen.
Lawson Williams I think it's fine that companies make custom user interface for their tablets because a lot of consumers may like it and Google should continue to make the vanilla os on the tablets like they do the cellphones.
Shawn Meadows You shoudl be able to pick which skin you want without rooting
Andrew Burton Sence yes anything else no
Mark Plsek Why don't they make a windows 7 tablet? Seems like it would be useful.
Edgar Rodriguez If you don't like custom ui then get the nexus phones or root your phone stop bragging about making android into iphone
Seito Yoshi Green if you root it?
Benjamin Northrup There shouldn't be custom user interfaces on any device
Tony Abiama Screw tabs... its a gimmick. Don't buy into it people!
Matthew Johnson No, I hate all of the custom UI's. If a manufacturer wants to put a custom UI on an Android device they should separate it from the OS and give users the option of turning it off. I like the way the stock Android UI looks and works, and so far I haven't seen a custom UI that adds useful functionality.
Esa Edvik It should be user replaceable, not forced. Not that it is forced in any device IIRC.
Henry Robertson Its funny how most people on here are saying no but isn't Android an open OS. Most of you go out of your way to attack Apple for placing restrictions on the iPhone but you are now avocatting for the same restrictions that you have obsessed about over the past couple of years. I think that manufacturers should be able to manipulate the open OS as it sees fit but as a customer, I will definitely be looking for tablets without those nasty ass overlays. I hate them but I understand what open source means. If you want something different, go over to iOS or Windows Phone.
Edgar Rodriguez Android was made that it can evolve into something not just stock. Besides companies need to find ways to make their phones more appealing. I'm all about custom ui
Mike Miller It is a customizable user interface. What kind of question is this?
Edgar Rodriguez Netflix is in the horizon supposedly its taking so long because android has some poor security certificates so they have to work with the specific devices
John Cruz Yeah they do
Scott Green who cares, they need a netflix app.
Edgar Rodriguez Tablets should not be like phones, considering the screen size and all I want a completely different experience than what I can get on a phone
Danny Calderon No way but you know its gonna happen because Google allows it.Dell streak 7 is shipping with their stage UI and 2.2 I'm sure they are not gonna change the UI when honeycomb comes out. The custom UI should be installed at the carrier store if the customer wants it ,that way Google could push out the updates alot faster than the carriers
Mike Miller I think as long as it is practical and still makes Android feel like Android and not a completely different experience. But it shouldn't be a resource hog, and shouldn't be mandatory either
Aaron Early No. If you don't have enough imagination to customize your tablet with the pure Google experience then maybe you should make like a sheep and get an apple product.
Wilson Ler Hmmm the stock interface seems pretty good enough
Joe Fedewa They should be themes that the user can choose to use if they want.
Alex Smith I think so...y use OS specific for a fone on something thats not a fone...i saw hw the galaxy tab was n i was not at all impressed..i looked like a big version of ma captivate which i dnt like much...
Steve Pstragowski Absolutely not. Custom UIs do more harm than good. Sense is the only halfway decent one but not worth the battery drain. I say keep them stock and if people want to add them, then motoblur, sense, and touchflo should be downloads in the market for like $1.99. Give people the choice and stop forcing crap software that taints their high end device.
Tim Moore I say no because it could end up being like the phones. And I thought 3.0 was supposed to help eliminate the need for custom UI's.
Cliften Bowers I didnt even know android had a fragmentation problem. I don't think those can exist on flash memory anyways
Gabriel Fernandez No. Google and Android should be working towards getting the fragmentation problem fixed, not continue to add on to it.
Brandon Johnson If the custom skins get as out of hand for the tablets as they are on the phones that'll be disaterous, especially if the updates are slown down, then again OEMs are probably not gonna push out as many tablets a year as phones and actually support them.
Auggie Mueller Only if they are easy to use
Austin Jae Nope, Sense is a battery hog. I think honeycomb will be good enough to stand on it's own. If they want to include device specific widgets and stuff that's fine, but leave Andy alone!
Haiel Haifa Let it be with HTC SENSE but lets just drop the MOTOBLUR
Andy Overcash If its done correctly, then yes. I love HTC sense.
Brenda Cisneros yes they should.
Cliften Bowers Not that many people can code for interfaces vtw
Thy Heng Yes but with option to go pure android
Jon Jerico Calanio As long as it's non-obtrusive and doesn't consume a lot of resources. A Sense or Blur-like streamlined interface would be nice, but not ultimately needed. Honeycomb is where it's at.
Alex Kiev no way
Mike Miller Not MotoBlur
Evan Gage yeah its called Chrome




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