Wednesday, May 8, 2013

What Should Android OS "Borrow" from Other Smartphone OS's?

Found this article over at Android Authority, and that got me thinking:

1. Better Widgets

Agreed, Android widgets never seem to go together with a consistent visual theme. Different UI designers have different aesthetics and slight variations on the same theme. How many ways can you do a "black button"? Just the way it's sized and how round are the corners, as well as the shade of black and "edge" can drive you bonkers if you're looking for consistency and "visual coherence" if you prefer a buzz term.

Yes, Microsoft's Windows Phone "Live Tiles" look boring, but they are CONSISTENT. Why do you think there are so many themes and iconpaks and whatnot on the market? Because people want CONSISTENCY, and Android's widgets are anything but consistent.

Maybe future Android can demand an app maker to create multiple versions of the widget, and must provide one with NO background and no "chrome", and use the system provided widget theme.

2. Notification Count on Apps

Hey, don't we already have this? Nova Launcher already have this by creating a standard where different apps can provide count to the launcher. Already saw Gmail, SMS, and so on. Now if only Android can standardize this into a system API...

3. Even better notification

Agreed. Apple's iOS borrowed the Android notification bar, and improved it by adding consistent feel and made it even MORE useful by ability to group notifications. Android needs to borrow that back, and add on to that as well.  The ICS notifications are kinda meh, to maintain compatibility. The newer apps can do better, much better. Notifications are also on a first-come-first-serve basis and others can jump on top or such, never in particular order. This needs to be a system setting, like app X's notification should always go first, and so on, and ability to group notifications (a lot like Windows group stuff on the task bar)

4.  Better Social Integration

Agreed, iOS got Android beat here with TIGHT Twitter integration, among other things. And Microsoft's "Social Hub" is just as good, if not better. Android's contacts/phone is quite lame in comparison. There are a lot of third-party contact managers, and I've tried dozens, but none of them work the same and all of them are lacking something one way or another.

5.  Hardware Silence Key

This one I'm a bit ambivalent about. I personally think Android phones should have one or two buttons on the side that users can map to special functions, such as camera (where did that camera button go, hmmm?) but I can sort of see the reason why they don't as physical buttons will fail due to fatigue. Still, maybe they can incorporate a "center" button between the two volume buttons for special purposes.

Jelly Bean Update Was a Disaster... Sticking with ICS for now

To make a long story short, my attempt to update to the official JB was a disaster. Due to the way I had rooted and removed bloatware, the OTA update will NOT update my phone at all. Their install script expects to find all the existing bloatware and whatnot there, active and NOT disabled and not updated / merged into ROM. And it can't deal with my current setup.

And so far nobody had unpacked that file to allow for easier update. Instead, the only way to use that update is to nuke the phone, reinstall ICS fresh (using procedure that I highlighted before), then allow the JB OTA update.

I chose NOT to do that, as I don't want to go without my phone for THAT long. (That process will take HOURS)  and there's a very good chance I'll lose root access, thus unable to restore my apps and data.

So right now I've settled on using an ICS based ROM called Icarus Remix (aka Stripped). It's still Motorola's official Bionic ICS 4.0.4, but cleaned up, and debloated, and with a few mods that borrowed a few elements from Samsung's Touchwiz (including S-Voice, the licensed version of Vlingo). I may be able to get Google Now for ICS running on this.

I tried the CyanogenMod 10.1 Jellybean port but it's quite buggy.

Stay tuned.
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