I would like the ability to switch between stock and skinned - without the hassleAnna Scantlin - Contributing Editor
There are several major platforms for us to choose from for our smartphones today. You can choose iOS, Windows Phone, Firefox OS, BlackBerry OS, and of course, Android. Out of all of them, Android is considered to be the most versatile due to being “open source”, or, according to some, moderately open source. Either way, when it comes down to the knitty gritty of Android, there’s a lot that can be done to change the way the platform looks, feels, and operates.
A lot of Android phones are going to look different from each other; this goes for more than just the outside design of the phone. When you turn on the screen of a Galaxy S5, it’s going to look different than the screen of a Sony Xperia Z2, or an HTC One, or a Moto X, or an LG G Flex. Each one of them is going to differ from each other. It’s part of the beauty that is Android. However, despite all of these differences and skinned options, there is such a thing as a stock Android, also known as “vanilla” Android. This is the basic design that the parent company of Android, Google, sets as the standard. There is no additional company bloatware, just the design and applications necessary to complete the basic Android experience.
If you purchase a phone that comes with a “skinned” version of Android (that is, an OEM has created a custom look to accompany their hardware) and you decide you’d rather have the stock version of Android, you’re going to have to jump through a lot of hoops to get there - especially if you’re not familiar with the terms “root” or “flash”. It can be a complicated and risky process, and although I personally really enjoy that aspect of Androids, there are plenty of people who would rather keep it simple. Even if they want the stock Android experience, the risk of potentially turning your phone into nothing more than a fancy paperweight isn’t worth it in the end. It’s because of this that I wish that all Androids had the option of switching between skinned and stock.
It will probably never happen, at least not any time soon. There is big money in stock Android. For those who aren’t interesting in rooting a phone, there’s always the option to purchase the cheap(ish) Nexus phone, which can mean big money for Google. Although stock Android isn’t the only reason that Nexus phones are great, it is a big draw for people who are sick of bloatware taking up space and are, once again, stuck there permanently unless root access is obtained. To the people who follow the motto “Better safe than sorry,” both bloatware removal and stock Android are beyond their reach.
Beyond that, though, it’s not an impossible dream. I like stock Android, but I also like certain skins. As I mention in several articles of mine, I dig HTC’s Sense skin quite a bit. I’m also fairly fond of Moto X’s skin, if only because it mimics stock so well. Sony’s Xperia UI is also quite beautiful in my opinion, but it’s riddled with bloatware, like many skinned Androids are. If I can’t have the ability to uninstall the bloatware applications I’d never use, I would at least like to be able to switch to a UI where they don’t show up.
And ideally, I would actually like to be able to uninstall bloatware and switch stock UI, but let’s not get greedy there. One request at a time.
Like I said, I know its unlikely because I know that stock Android itself is part of a cash grab of sorts. Still, a dreamer can dream, right?
Image via Gizmag