5 Wishes for Android 5.0

Google is widely expected to announce its next-generation Android 5.0 operating system this may alongside new Nexus hardware and the speculated Motorola X Phone smartphone.

The OS, which may colloquially be called Key Lime Pie to follow Jelly Bean alphabetically, will be a major OS revision and will come with notable changes.

So far, though, it’s unclear what Google will deliver as it’s been quiet on the leaks at this time, but here are 5 of my wishes for Android 5.0.

1. Direct-to-Consumer Updates

evo-4g-updateOne of the huge flaws with the way software updates on mobile devices work is that the OS-maker, in this case Google, creates the update, then it is sent to the OEM manufacturer to implement, and then after that carriers must approve the update to ensure it doesn’t cause any problems or conflicts with the network. With major OS update revisions, it could even take upwards of a year, even for popular devices.

It’s not entirely Google’s fault, but Google now has strength and bargaining power and it could try do what Apple does by regaining control of its OS. Generally, major OS revisions–like jumping between Android 4.1 to Android 5.0–may require additional time and intervention given that many Android devices are heavily skinned and manufacturers will need time to make sure everything works as intended with HTC Sense or TouchWiz, for example. However, for security patches and smaller updates, Google should be able to patch those and send the codes out automatically, much like how Apple handles incremental iOS updates.

This would help consumers and ensure that devices are up to date and not vulnerable to hacks and attacks.

2. Simultasking Support

462x347_productivity_grayKyocera broached this approach through hardware by creating a device with two screens that could display two different apps at the same time to allow users to write an email and watch a YouTube video simultaneously. More recently, Samsung took the software approach on larger screens–like phablets and tablets–with its Multi-Window interface that allows two re-sizable windows to be opened at the same time.

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As devices gain more power, Google should really borrow a page from Samsung’s playbook and allow apps to run simultaneously side-by-side in Android 5.0.

Multitasking was circa Microsoft with cluttered windows and desktops, and single-tasking was so 2007 when the iPhone came out. It’s now 2013 and users can afford to manage their attention spans. I’d love to have more work-play balance, but only if work-play happened side-by-side at the same time–load me up some Google Play video in one window and I’ll respond to your emails in the next.

3. Phablet-Optimized

2013-01-17-teaserdd9Android 3.0 addressed the tablet issue and really brought Android to the larger screen. However, since the debut of Honeycomb, clever Android manufacturers led by Samsung had created a hybrid tablet-phone category called the phablet that has a large, high resolution display but was still pocketable and easy enough to carry as a phone. These devices have screen sizes ranging between 5 and 6 inches and could easily be used as a tablet with a larger screen real estate.

Having a phablet-optimized ecosystem could potentially allow users to choose if they want their apps to run and open in either smartphone UI or a tablet UI. For example, running the official CNN news app on my Samsung Galaxy Note II right now looks like it’s a mobile WAP site designed in circa 2000. Allowing it to run in tablet mode on the 5.5-inch Galaxy Note 2′s display would make the app more rich and friendly and the screen real estate would not feel wasted.

As users become less reliant on the phone aspect of a device and more dependent on data and consuming information on the web, having the option to open apps and choose a tablet experience of a phone experience will definitely help the phablet category grow. With 1080p HD displays, multi-core CPUs, and ample RAM, apps will run fine and work fluidly in tablet UI if Google allows them.

4. Smart Linking With Apps

Screenshot_2013-02-06-22-29-06One thing that I would love to see throughout the entire OS is smart linking with apps. Android’s third-party library is growing and it would be nice when I tap a link in an email or webpage that’s specific to an app, the link would take me to an app.

For example, as it is currently, if I get an email from Groupon with the hottest deals of the day, when I click the link inside that email, Android directs me to the browser to Groupon’s mobile-optimized page regardless if I have the Groupon app installed. This is fine for most purposes, but if I decide to buy the Groupon deal, I’d either have to sign in on the browser and try to remember my login and password, or go through steps to find the app in my app tray, launch it, search for the deal, and then buy it there. Smart linking would definitely solve those problems.

Smart linking is already done for the most part when you click on an address or map. On the Note II, a pop-up asks if I want to use my third-party Navigon app, Scout, or Google Maps to get to my location. A YouTube video link gets the same smart linking treatment. This concept could apply to Facebook links, Google+, Twitter, LinkedIn, Yelp, OpenTable, LivingSocial, Bloomspot, and other apps.

5. All Androids Created Equal…Endowed by Their Creators With Non-Preferrential Treatment

As it stands right now, not all Androids are created equally. Whenever Google launches a new version of the Android operating system, it gives preferential treatment to its Nexus branded products. That means when Android 5.0 launches, the Nexus will be among the first to receive Android 5.0 and then other manufacturers will be given the source code after the launch to update their own devices or launch new devices with Android 5.0 out of the box. This process usually takes months and makes devices launching around the time of Android 5.0–around mid-May–look obsolete and old.

This is both unfair to manufacturers who are part of the ecosystem as they now have to compete with Google and also to consumers who may be straddled with purchasing a high-end device that will be stuck with a dated version of the OS for at least a few months.

When Google had begun developing Android 5.0, I would propose that the Android-maker should have worked with at least tier 1 manufacturers to lay down the specs and groundwork, much like what Microsoft does for Windows Phone. By illustrating minimum system requirements for high-end devices early, devices that launch just before Android 5.0–like the rumored HTC M7 and the Galaxy S4 for instance–could quickly become updatable to Android 5.0 within weeks of the OS’s debut. Devices that may launch in the weeks or months following Android 5.0 would be ready and would have undergone all the necessary carrier and OEM testing needed.

This would make Android a level playing field with no favorites. It’s a situation that Microsoft had largely adopted for Windows Phone and it’s something that BlackBerry may need to examine if it intends on licensing BlackBerry 10 to other manufacturers in the future. As Android had promised to be an open platform, Google really needs to do more to show that it is open, else it may risk losing partnerships. Samsung, the largest Android manufacturer, is eyeing Tizen to reduce reliance on Google, and HTC is finding a lot of newfound success with Windows Phone with the launch of the Windows Phone 8X by HTC.

 

  

Comments

  1. John7777 says

    This is a stupid list…

    And most of them aren’t even positive changes.

    Google isn’t going to be doing any of these with Android 5.0… you may as well have just asked for a pony…

  2. Sam S says

    Worst article ive read in a while. Direct to consumer updates, you’re acting as if it is googles fault that they take so long. Go speak to samsung htc and motorola. Googles coding for minor updates would still not be compatible with touchwiz sense and etc without them taking a lengthy process themselves of updating their codings. 5. Youve rewritten number 1, once again manufacturers fault they dont keep stock android. 3. phablet optimised? You want android 5 to be optimised for one samsung phone currently which it already does itself through touchwiz? How the hell did you get a job writing here

  3. KC says

    Polish up the People (Contacts) List.

    A friend who was using an old basic Nokia feature phone, has migrated up to an Android,

    He asked me “how to forward (sms) someone else’s mobile number to a fnother friend asking for it?”

    He said that it was so easy on his old Nokia. As far as I know, on Android, you either search for the wanted person’s number, memorise or write it down, and then run the sms app (Messenger) and type it the mentioned number.

    His remark was that “For a supposedly highly advanced Android OS, basic things are so difficult, and this is dumber than his old dumb Nokia”.

    I’ve always had difficulty with this feature. So for improvements in Android V5, I would like to see they make the people list more friendly to forward, selectively or otherwise, via sms or otherwise.

    Unless someone knows a better way??

    • Roy says

      I use the app chomp for sms, there I have a + button next to the text field that I can use to add contacts into my message. In the message app that came with the phone(S3, not sure if app is Android standard or Samsung) I have a button “attach” where I can attach contacts in my message(pretty much the same way as in chomp).

      Hope this helps, cheers!

  4. Al says

    “Smart linking” is entirely up to the developer of the mobile app. If they set it up to listen for something like http://dogfood.com/* then it can be handled by the mobile app. The plumbing is already there with pending intents and has been there for the longest time. I think it is one of androids greatest features and google should patent it and sue apple if they ever try to put it in iOS.

  5. Curt says

    1 – Direct to Consumer Updates – This is totally impossible outside of the Nexus line at this time, and that is impossible with the Verizon Galaxy Nexus. Allowing the manufacturers to ‘skin’ the OS to allow them to look different to give customer choices comes into play here. If the manufacturer’s would program their ‘skin’ the correct way (decoupled) from the OS, then yes, direct to customer updates would be possible and preferable. One thing the manufacturers are totally missing the boat on right now, there is a HUGE preference for Nexus devices right now. Why? Because the customer wants updates to their devices without waiting 6 months to a year or never. Are the manufacturers providing a skinless vanilla Android OS phone outside of the Nexus line? Nope. They THINK that they are providing VALUE with the skins, but all they are doing is to piss customers off from the delays.The manufacturers say that they are providing what the customer wants with phones, but NONE are providing a skinless OS that can be updated from Google. TOTAL FAIL.

    2 – Simultasking support – Yep, this would be nice for all Android’s, not just some Samsung models.

    3 – Phablet optimized – Already there, since 3.0 and really nice support in the SDK for 4.0+

    4 – Smartlinking to apps – Already there. You already show the screen for picking which app can handle the type of link. If there is not one there for Groupon, then that is a Groupon problem, not the OS>

    5 – All Androids Created equal – Yes they are. The Nexus line is a developer phone to show off the capabilities of the new OS and of course they will launch the new OS. But the problem lies with the manufacturers again. They take so long to put their skin on the OS. That is why it takes longer for new phones to come to market with the new OS.

    Understanding who is causing the delays for the most part is part of the problem.

    • oiaohm says

      Curt there is more than 1 way to skin number 1.

      Lets look at what needs “Direct to Consumer Updates.” Could network connecting apps like the webbrowser be broken out into APK file from goggle store. Most likely yes.

      Might not be able to update the compete firmware yes. But should be able to make the critical bits like insecure webbrower due to firmware not being updated thing of past.

      Would updating items like the webbrowser independant to vendor skins upset things most likely no.

      Really Google make Android core firmware smaller and less functional would basically be the request. With what is removed in functionality made into independently update-able applications. So increasing the secuirty.

      Really person could down load fire-fox and other mobile browsers and not use the built into firmware. There are a lot of parts bundled that don’t need to be. These increase security surface area.

    • Dillon says

      Well I’ve been using the first galaxy note since I pretty ordered it and most apps are not optimized for phablet ui it usually goes to phone mode which looks crappy , So best solution is Paranoid Android ROM set individual app DPI and ui mode ,

  6. Rabid Rotty says

    Make all Android devices equal? WTF? Google and Android inspire innovation and competition. If you want “equal” go to I Phone. The reason the Nexus devices get the updates first is that there are no OEM skins or carrier bloatware that they have to incorporate, pure Android baby.

    If you want the updates faster, buy a Nexus device. Nexus devices are introduced with the new version to provide a bar that other OEM’s should meet or exceed for said Android release. That is what inspires innovation, take the Nexus One for example, at it’s release, pound for pound it was the best phone out there, the first to be called a super-phone. Because of the N1, OEMs brought their A game and we are now where we are at. If it was for the Nexus program, prices for these phones would be massively expensive. However in the long run, with new technology, better specs, prices of the phones have really not gone up in price.

    If you want fair and equal, go to the dark side of communism, the late Steve Jobs’ Iphone. There, you will be treated equal, with no actual innovation coming from the Mac-Camp lately and inferior hardware.

  7. Julius Petko says

    What about features like:
    - please, make better multitasking
    - When I quit the app, the app will really quit!
    - Updates directly from google – manufacturers usually delays or even not releasing new versions,
    - Having clean system with basic phone support and play store, and let the user ability to install junk which he wants, or at least to get ability to remove apps like facebook and google plus (you won’t believe, but some ppl are not using them) – so far thank god for CM
    - better contacts organization – first time I’ve started my device it was imported all contacts from my google account that it created with my phone contacts one big mess
    - don’t use stupid candy names
    …. and many more, but this is only my crying of loud, I’m worry that no one from google will hear that :(

  8. J M says

    How about basic backup functionality beyond contacts (like iTunes provides) so that when you receive a warranty replacement device, you don’t lose your home screen icons, widgets, settings, messages, call logs, etc. Thanks!

  9. Sean says

    I also want the firewall inbuilt in it. and BTW: need user ability to stop any application to connect to the internet.

  10. Roger says

    One feature they need, and that manufacturers are going to start adding end masse to TVs etc., is Miracast. You can keep your 5 inch phablet and I’ll just put my phone screen up on the 50 inch TV. ;)

  11. Roger says

    And I know 4.2 has officially supported Miracast, it just needs more presence in the OS. Not tucked away in some wifi menu.

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