For Android users, how do you like your Android experience? What sort of phone do you have? HTC? Samsung? LG? Motorola? How does it look and feel to you? Is it slow? Ugly? Bulky? Confusing?
For some Android users, they've been able to use what is known as "Vanilla" of Android versions when using a phone from the Nexus line. The most recent Nexus phone was the Samsung Galaxy Nexus and the tab was the most recent device that was announced this year. Users that use these phones and a few others have been some of the lucky few. What have your thoughts on "Vanilla" been?
Vanilla versions of Android (and other electronic devices running software) run special types of the Android operating system, the way that Google released it and intended it to be. Google made and releases Android as an open source project which allows anyone to download and use the software with or without official permission and release it in whatever way they'd like. In allowing it to be used and distributed freely, this gave manufacturers the opportunity to add in their own tweaks to the software. Some of you may have even heard of some of the tweak names. HTC uses Sense, Motorola uses Blur (or at least used to), Samsung uses TouchWiz, and others have their own too. Many people like different things from different versions like lots of people wanted the famous HTC clock which was well known as the "Sense clock" complete with a black and white flip clock and weather.
Sense, Blur, and TouchWiz are really the launchers of these phones but they also include their own apps. An Android launcher is basically how the phone looks when you unlock it, add apps/widgets to the homescreen, and can even affect the way that the notification bar looks with the 3G signal, battery status, and other notification area icons.
What is the downside of having these? For one, there's less customization for the user. Your phone came with Sense, it's a bit hard to change everything and make it exactly how you'd like it. It'd be like buying a used car that someone put all of their stickers on. You can take their stickers off and you can put your own on, but it's just not the same; you know what I mean? Another downside to these is that it puts lots of strain on your battery and on the phone's memory making the phone work twice as fast and slowing it for other apps and operations you want to do with your phone. That is the biggest complaint amongst users of these variants, is that it slows down their phones and drains battery life.
Of course, the upsides to Vanilla are whatever is the opposite of above. The downside is that you don't get an experience given to you out of the box. Instead, you must choose how you'd like your phone to look and run.
Luckily, with the release of Ice Cream Sandwich, Android 4.0, most of these individual appearances given by manufacturers has been added into the Android OS as being standard so it caused many of the manufacturers to leave out their personalizations or change them because they didn't need everything as they did before.
Personally, I am not liking Samsung's TouchWiz on my Galaxy SIII. The number one thing that made me dislike the launcher was that it doesn't allow users to have scrolling wallpapers. In previous Android versions, and other phones without TouchWiz, users were and are allowed to move from screen to screen and the picture behind the apps for the wallpaper shows piece by piece of the picture. But in the newest TouchWiz launcher, it shows the same picture again and again and does not allow any other option. But tonight I flashed a ROM that allows me to fix that. Thanks to the guys behind FreeGs3 ROM for this feature! But now the launcher isn't as bad as it once was for me. I know it sounds small, but it really bothered me and other users because we liked that feature.
When looking for a phone, choosing a phone like the Galaxy Nexus was an option because it has Vanilla on it.
One of the other disadvantages of having a pre-loaded OS that isn't Vanilla is that it doesn't get Android updates as quickly as other phones do. The reason for this is that the manufacturers install their own pieces with the software like Sense. So when a new Android version becomes available, they now must put their personal touch on it which can take a while itself. Then when the coding is actually done, they test the firmware to make sure that it is compatible and can still run just as it did before. Otherwise, they don't send out an update or take a long time to send it. This is good for the manufacturer because if you haven't received the latest Android update, your phone becomes outdated and you are forced in buying a new phone. However, Vanilla phones get updates almost as soon as they are released because Vanilla phones are running pure Android so there isn't much to test or add to the software and its ready to go.
It seems like the Android community is divided on this topic. What do you think of it? Personally, I'm a bit biased because I prefer Vanilla to pre-loaded OS apps and appearances.
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