Google reportedly focusing on UI with its next revision of Android

It's not really a big stretch to come up with, but TechCrunch chief Michael Arrington says he has "multiple sources close to Google" who tell him the stock Android user interface will get a pretty big overhaul in the next version, tentatively nicknamed Gingerbread and possibly headed for release by the end of the year.

Like we said, it makes sense. Froyo is largely under-the-hood adjustments -- though there are a fair amount of visual tweaks -- so it stands to reason that UI is up next, especially given the acquisition of UI-specialist Matia Duarte, who left Palm and is now User Experience Director for Android.

But you have to wonder how many carriers and/or manufacturers will be willing to forgo their own custom UIs for stock, no matter how good it is. Still, options are good, so we look forward to seeing whatever Google cooks up next. [TechCrunch]

Phil Nickinson
  • If true this is awesome. The more streamlined they make the UI and more attractive will give two benefits. One being the OOOH AHHH factor and the other being improved performance of the UI. Great news!
  • Stock Android desperately needs a make over, but as you said, choice is awesome! I can't wait for Froyo and Gingerbread!
  • I don't mind the stock UI, actually that's one of the main reasons I decided on the Nexus One. However, I wouldn't mind a little UI love
  • I like the stock UI as well. I think the goal with the UI improvement isn't too change it too much from stock but to also improve the UI's performance as well. Google has spent a TON of time on the underpinnings of the OS and now the last piece to take it from 99% awesome to 100% awesome is some UI aesthetic and performance tweaking.
  • :0) Android OS FTW! Bring a better Appstore along an awesome new UI and perfection is reached (bride the developers to port their apps/games like Microsoft is doing for Windows Phone 7)
  • BUMPTOP...there was a reason Google bought them
  • Hmmmm..... No. I don't want bumptop on my Incredible. Good though. I'm glad the Incredible is rooted. Then, when Google releases this and HTC keeps Sense, I can switch. Options FTW.
  • Right there with you!... Im actually thinking of getting the EVO around the time when 2.2 is cooked up over at XDA for it... Then I'll just wait till January when hopefully Google Drops the Nexus 2..... on sprint lol(hopefully)
  • Wow, should be great! I can't wait for 2.2 to be released and hacked for the Incredible
  • Good stuff
  • It looks like Pure Calendar Widget (the agenda, not the grid) without a background.
  • Thank You!
  • chmckay is right, its Pure Calendar Widget (agenda) by Francois Deslandes
  • and im stuck with cupcake...hoorayyy
  • Another worth while note is the fact that most manufacturers(Example: HTC's Sense UI & Motorola's Blur UI) lag behind with updates to their phones due to the extensive testing they do with their custom UI (as well as phone hardware) with the new OS. If the stock Android UI is updated to where the majority of the Custom UI manufacturers switch to the Stock UI we might see more streamlined process in the update board and every phone will see the new Android OS a lot sooner rather than having to wait months to obtain it(Hopefully).
  • Froyo has been officially released - just not us peons...
  • [citation needed]
  • How is it we are already talking about Gingerbread when froyo hasn't been officially released. Tell me something about its release date not about some obscure UI update that supposedly will show up as a hack at the end of the year, make it officially to the Nexus Feb2011 and then to everything else July 2011.
  • Why not? I say... let's start postulating what the NEXT one is going to be called... What's a sweet treat that starts with H??
  • honeybun....possibly
  • Hershey's lol
  • i've done both stock and sense and i still go back to sense because of the widgets. they work for me. tho i do love the customization of the stock. it just rocks. so i'm sorta stuck. if stock came with a better music player then i'd definitely jump to stock. even root my phone if i had to just to do it.
  • STOCK Android UI is a little on the boring side. Rooting it and installing custom themes however, gives the best UI experience on any phone to date. The options and visual changes available are stunning.
  • Stunning? Which ones would you say are stunning? Most of the ones I've seen are crappy interfaces done by fan boys/girls of XYZ so they make an XYZ theme. There may be some real quality ones out there though, haven't tried slogging through the noise to find them.
    I would love for Android to have a great UI that was skinnable by the manufacturers and carriers. Then we would all get updates in a relatively short fashion and they could all still have their own unique flavor that would distinguish them. HTC has done a fairly good job with Sense, but it takes forever to port and test it against new releases.
  • They need to totally strip the UI from the OS. Then have a nice Android default one but also allow the phone manufactures to have there own like Sense. Make these switchable along with any 3rd party ones that would come along. That would allow totally flexibility on the user end with the GUI but allow the OS to stay separate and be upgradeable across any phone since that would always be consistent. Then when a new version of Android comes out it could just be upgraded for everyone with compatible hardware. This would also allow the OS to be upgraded as often as Google would want with little restrictions from the manufactures end since they would only provide the GUI. This is just my opinion of course! :)
  • I like that idea
  • As a longtime user of the Palm OS interface (not PRE), it's amazing how many things the old Palm (not the new Palm) got right. Those guys understood user interface design. Android isn't bad, but there are lots of little things that are annoying to people who have used better. Two examples: In the Gmail app, the Reply and Reply all buttons are part of the email itself, instead of the app frame. So if you've got a chain of 6 or 8 messages, you need to scroll down through all of them to hit reply. That's just dumb. In the HTC email app, the reply button only appears in portrait mode. So if you're typing in landscape, which I imagine most people will do, you then need to rotate the phone before you can hit send. Again, just dumb. Neither is a major thing, but Android is full of these little annoyances. If they can get rid of those, it'll be great.
  • The email thing is due to the way gmail works. If you go to the web interface you will see it functions the exact same way. It has it's pros. There are times with long email conversations that you want to reply to a specific email and not to the very last email in the conversation. I have used that quite a bit.
  • Yeah, the web GMail interface is pretty awful, too. Google does great engineering, lousy interfaces. It's pretty much their trademark. I did just realize my comment about the landscape interface not having a send button is wrong. But it's no visible by default. You have to scroll down to find it. Again, pretty dumb. The three basic options when you finish reading an email are reply, delete, or close. Those should be readily accessible ALL the time. UI design 101: make the most common actions the easiest to execute. Less common actions can be hidden, or require extra steps to get to.
  • Another thing that is needed. Google either needs to insist that the stock UI is available on all phones (OEMS can skin but the vanilla must be available) or just release it on Android Market.
  • Better media handling and better calendar/task management would be nice.
  • Both of those areas are in need of work.
    Media is just different than ipod owners are used to, but it is servicable. Playlist construction is confusing as hell. The calendar presentation is abysmal.
  • Guys, you need to keep in mind that Android OS is completely FREE and manufacturers are also FREE to modify it as they see fit (i.e. use custom skins that integrate deeply with the OS).. Google will not insist anything in terms of UI implementation from manufacturers because that goes against everything the OS stands for.
  • Another thing that would be nice is to have predictive text for hard keyboards as well. But the one thing I found distressing was "by the end of the year". I thought updates were going to start being further apart? There still isn't a new phone sold with 2.2. The only ota I know of is Nexus 1 & a lot of phones being sold today are still 1.6 or less. I'm also watching to see which company comes out with ota's to 2.2 (other then Google since I like the larger screens) It's annoying to have a old OS on a phone I just bought. & I don't want to Root. I agree seperating the OS from the interface should make updating easier. If it can be done .
  • Had FroYo been released to the masses by now Android would've really stolen the iphone's thunder but as it stands we have vaporware :(
    Hopefully we get the UI improvements we need and the OS actually gets delivered.
  • Man, the thing I'd really love the most for interface is the ability to change highlight colours. orange is all well and good, but seriously why isn't there a slider where i can select a custom colour? not themes and skinning, just change that "ffcc33" or whatever to a "99ffff" or "ffffff" if i want. wouldn't that be cool? (i know there are things i can do if i root it)
  • FroYo needs to be official quick and manufactures need to adopt even faster.