Google is slowly expanding the scope of its Android OS to encompass other fields such as Wearables, TVs and Autos. Android Wear is already here, Android TV is on its way and Google’s Auto too is expected to hit the markets in the near future. However, as Google is expanding into new areas, it is restricting the freedom of its OEM partners to add their own customized elements in their devices.
For instance, in the case of Android Wear Watches, no custom skins are allowed as Google wants to provide a consistent user experience across brands. Only small degree of customization is allowed, like adding custom apps, services or other minor touches. In case of Android One, in a bid to offer low-cost devices to emerging markets, Google controls the software in the smartphones. The hardware or carrier partners can choose the apps that they want downloaded automatically in the phone. If a user doesn’t want any apps, he has the option to uninstall them.
According to Google, these restrictions might not be a permanent thing. As Hiroshi Lockheimer, Google’s vice president of engineering puts it, “It’s not some Google-way-or-the-highway kind of thing”. He made this comment to re/code as Google introduced its new Android 5.0 Lollipop that is designed for use in many other devices apart from mobile devices. He said that since Watches, TVs and Autos are new areas, the company first wanted to be certain that the basics were right and then it would allow more freedom to manufacturers for customization.
Hiroshi Lockheimer said that Google is “trying to find the right balance of differentiation and customization”. The norms are being eased out slowly. For instance in the upcoming Asus Zen Watch, we will get the “first glimpse” of customization of software by the manufacturer on the Android Wear device. Google’s Android Auto is also progressing well and is expected to launch sometime next year.