Do you have a favorite custom software for your Android device?Evan Selleck - Contributing Editor
One of the strengths of Google's mobile platform, Android, is its customizability. The biggest (and smallest) companies out there releasing smartphones have made sure to put their own spin on Android in some way or another, from the obvious to the minimal, all in hopes that their version stands out just a bit more than the competition's. The only real issue, as we've seen play out over the years, is finding that sweet spot to appeal to the most consumers as possible with each new version of the software available on new devices.
Proprietary software is still one of those things that's evolving, and one of the things that consumers interact with directly every single day in one way or another. (As long as they haven't done anything to remove those features, of course.) So for the manufacturers behind those custom skins and added features, it's all about keeping up with what the consumer wants, and what they ask for more of.
And what they want removed.
We've watched companies go so many different routes with their proprietary software, that sometimes it can be hard to keep track. Motorola, for instance, as just all over the place a few years back with their own custom skins for their mobile devices. It started out as "in-your-face" as custom software could get with MOTOBLUR, and then started to get diminished in key ways thanks to ninjaBLUR. (Ninjas make everything stealthy, obviously.) After that, though, Motorola showcased that they were still very willing to skin everything they could to make it their own, as we saw on plenty of different DROID (now Droid)-branded handsets. They finally got their stuff figured out with the Moto X and Moto G: offering a relatively skinned-less experience, but providing Motorola-specific applications to still make it their own.
HTC and Samsung have been the big names in the proprietary software game, though. They've been doing it for so long, have been releasing new devices with some form of their custom skins installed for years now. There have been changes on both sides, but for some people out there not enough. HTC's not as up-front as it used to be, but HTC's obviously not going to go plain Android anytime soon, based on their track record. And Samsung? Well, despite some rumors in 2013 that we'd see the Galaxy S5 (and other future Samsung-branded devices) launch with a huge decrease in TouchWiz dependence, that obviously didn't pan out, and their custom software is still as present as it ever was.
And then there's LG, Oppo, Huawei, and a metric ton of other companies that have made sure to make their handsets stand out not with hardware, but with the software. And we're not even just talking about the manufacturers, either. There are so many custom skins out there from developers, many of which combine features/aesthetics from other skins into one amalgamated creation.
When I was adding custom ROMs to my Android-based handsets "back in the day," some of my favorite skins were those that brought features from TouchWiz, Sense, and others into one, and let me choose themes to spice things up on the fly. It's all about having the best of all worlds, right?
After seeing the custom software that LG has preloaded on their new Isai FL, and what I imagine will be on the upcoming G3 in some variety or another, I got to thinking: what's the best custom software out there? Whether it's HTC, Samsung, LG, or a custom piece of software that you've used on your phone, I want to know what you think the best proprietary skin out there is. And, as an added bonus, I want to know which features from Sense you'd bring into TouchWiz, and vice versa. So let me know!