One of the biggest complaints throughout Android’s history has been the changeability of the user interface depending on what manufacturer you choose. There have been fairly large variations between stock Android, TouchWiz, Sense, and others making Android platform fragmented when it comes to personalized OEM user experiences . This is set to change with Android TV, Auto and Wear. Google is actively preventing OEM partners from adding customized elements on the devices recently announced at Google I/O.
Google engineering director of Android & Nexus, David Burke spoke with Ars Technica to confirm that “the UI is more part of the product in this case. 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.”
Some customization will be permitted; they’ll be able to add custom apps, services, and other small touches, but changing up the overall look and feel is expressly forbidden. On one side this would mean the end of personalized “skins” for hardware to differentiate between the OEMs, but on the rear side of the coin we’re looking at a more consistent Google experience between brands, making it easier to experiment with multiple products.
When it comes to Android Wear and Android Auto, those are more extensions of your smartphone than standalone platforms of their own. And, Google wants to have a seamless upgrade experience for Android TV, similar to what it has created with Chrome. To do that requires the software be completely under Google’s control with no manufacturer customizations.
Both the Gear Live and the G Watch are running the exact same version number and build number of Android. So it looks like Google is going to be able to manage the updates ‘automatic and seamless’ for these devices in a way that it hasn’t been able to on phones and tablets.