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There's a reason you're seeing more Google on new Android phones — Google wrote the contracts that way

If it seems like Google's apps and services have been becoming more prominent on newer Android phones, it's because they are, and Google's mandated it be so. While Android is technically an open source operating system, as the likes of Amazon have shown with their own complete customizations, the version that most of us see comes with stipulations from Google. Namely, if you want the flagship Google Play Store on the new smartphone you're building, you will do as Google demands.

These demands are relatively pedestrian, though. As the different skinning jobs by HTC, Samsung, and LG has clearly demonstrated, Google still allows for substantial customization from the manufacturers. But they still have requirements if you want Google Play and other Google apps like the nigh-indispensable Gmail, and mostly they are dedicated the inclusion and placement of Google Search and other Google apps.

As per the information uncovered by The Information:

  • There must be a Google search "widget" on the "default home screen" of the device, along with an icon for the Google Play app store.
  • An icon on the device home screen labeled as "Google," when clicked, must provide access to a "collection" of 13 Google apps (Google Chrome, Google Maps, Google Drive, YouTube, Gmail, Google+, Google Play Music, Google Play Movies, Google Play Books, Google Play Newsstand, Google Play Games, Google+ Photos and Google+ Hangouts).
  • Other Google apps, including Google Street View, Google Voice Search and Google Calendar, must be placed "no more than one level below the Home Screen."
  • If device owners hold down the physical "Home" button or "swipe up" from a digital home button or navigation bar, such actions should trigger Google Search.
  • Google [has] the option to display a "Google trademark" or an "Android brand feature" on a "separate screen" when the device boots up.

None of this is terribly shocking or scandalous, and it's all stuff you'll get with just about any out-of-the-box experience with a new Android phone. There's Android branding on in the boot screen (see the new Samsung Galaxy Alpha for an example of boot screen branding gone awry), there's a Google folder on the home screen with a slew of vital Google apps inside, and there's a persistent Google Search widget at the top of every page of the launcher.

Google's reported to have layered on more requirements since the last run-down of the "Mobile Application Distribution Agreement" a few years back, most of those changes being detailed above. Question is: is it a good thing for Google to be requiring Android manufacturers to make their phones more Google-y?

Source: The Information (subscription required)

Derek Kessler is Special Projects Manager for Mobile Nations. He's been writing about tech since 2009, has far more phones than is considered humane, still carries a torch for Palm (the old one), and got a Tesla because it was the biggest gadget he could find. You can follow him on Twitter at @derekakessler.

160 Comments
  • Good >I'm the kind of guy who stops a microwave at one second to feel like a bomb defuser.
  • What? I thought android was free for the oem's to do as they please with it? How is this cool now? This seems like antitrust written all over it. This whole thing smell like google can already see the writing on the wall before the oem's will soon start to cut their services off. With the cost of android hardware racing to zero those oem's will soon look to where they can earn some money, and that's services. So it seems logical it's only a matter of time before they go down that path and cut google services for their own. It's been working well enough in Asia, no reason it can't work everywhere. That day is coming, and when that day gets here (specially in the USA) I will have my popcorn ready.
  • before antitrust matters come up with google/android, governments should look at apple/iOS
  • IOS is developed by apple for their hardware. Antitrust is the last thing on apple's mind because of this. It would be a different story if apple had the majority of the market share.
  • thats the problem I have with it, apple is worse with this stuff but android has a bigger market share so it will be the target. I thought the ie antitrust suit in england was silly. If ie didn't suck, it might not have been an issue.
  • iOS can't be accused of abusing a dominant position, as they're not dominating the business. Android is however getting there in most parts of the world, especially Europe. toukale, developing the software for your own hardware has nothing to do with getting around antitrust. iOS wouldn't be allowed to function like it is today if they had been more successful, you know, like deliberately blocking and delaying approvals on apps that compete with Apple features, blocking features on things like BT, WiFi and NFC. Anyhoo... This move by Google sucks, I think. This is bloat. Plain and simple. Sure, it could be seen as a good cause, to streamline the user experience, but it really isn't. For instance, Google's image gallery that comes with G+ is horrible on phones with physical buttons as it never goes fullscreen.
  • If OEMs don't like it they don't have to do it. Look at the kindle. Really this is just the price to pay for the play store. For instance, if Samsung wanted to make the new Galaxy S6 without all of this they could! They already have their own app store. However they would be much more likely to go with their own TIZEN OS. I'm just saying it's not like Google is forcing OEMs to do this (Amazon didn't with their Android phone). Posted from area 51 on my Sprint GS5
  • Someone lost their job over that fire phone, that thing is horrible! Posted via Android Central App
  • All OEM's are part of the "Handset Alliance" which they volunteer to follow and don't have to be apart of, and can gladly fork android into what ever they want it to do or be like Amazon did
  • Just Keep talking shit about the android OEM race to the bottom....when people are running around with $200 full HD smartphones with lightning fast hardware 2-3 years from now, it'll be interesting to see how Apple's disgustingly greedy asses react to the to dwindling marketshare and revenues, Lolololololol And when that happens, we android lovers wont have their popcorn out to celebrate, because most of us don't give a shit one way or the other ! So get a life and take your android hatred elsewhere
  • I am sure you will, people have been saying this forever about apple. Here is the thing, since you love your android devices so much you should say think you to apple for bringing the smartphone world to where it is today, and I will say: "You welcome." Of course you can always go back to pre 2007 iphone when the bb and their clone blackjack ruled the day.
  • Lololol, sure pal. and when you look at your large, full HD displays, currently pathetic 3rd party app integration, so called widgets, etc etc, you can say "thank you android" to which you most likely won't receive a reply, because no one gives a shit ! Nothing interesting on imore today?? Or are you just sick of hearing about bent iphones and shitty firmware updates? Lololol
  • You mean widgets that's been done on pc's for decades, which also was included in ios since day one. FYI... the weather app is a widget if you were not aware and that's been there since day one, just 3rd widgets were not allowed. Its funny what android lovers call innovation these days. They cite things like nfc, big screen, as innovation. Are you kidding me? NFC is a standard that can be adopted by anyone, it's been around for years, and most of all was not an android innovation. But since some android oem puts it in their phone, they want to call it innovation. Ok. How about some real innovation that changes the course of industries like the iphone did. Here is another one for you. Those AMR chips that's in all those android devices you love so much, look up how ARM came about and you will see apple's name all over it. But according to a lot of you here, apple gets no credit, too bad your can't rewrite history LMFAO.
  • You're lost man. Your problem is you honestly think the mobile tech landscape would be dramatically different now in late 2014 were it not for Apples templates and ARM SoC's. It's 2014 you idiot! The only effect that apples non existence would have on the current state of android would be a potentially smaller ecosystem due to certain apps never having been ported over from ios to android. Even that scenario is debatable. If android were the only prominent ecosystem then that would be where the majority of developer revenue comes from. I don't really understand people like your's desire to defend apple constantly. It's ridiculious. Just enjoy your preferred platform and stop being such a whiney douche looking for arguments on android forums.
  • There would be no need if folks like you did not try to rewrite history all the time. What has change since the introduction of the iphone. All I see from the android side is cloning ios since day one and offering it to folks on a more open way, that's it. Android is still using the iphone template. Wake me up when we move away from the iphone template of apps, smartphone touchscreens and all the rest. Until then, android will always be a clone of ios. I remember android first being a bb clone before the iphone. Even the google engineers admitted as much, but for some reason you guys on AC can't accept it. #dealwithit. LOL...
  • Cloning IOS ?? You're an idiot It's funny that the main stream public seems to see it as entirely the opposite. Does that upset you? Well get over it. it's 2014, not 2007 you idiot. I don't care that apple was the first to introduce the tech to the market in 2007, seeing as how android had been in beta for years prior. By the way, fyi, ios is still the inferior platform in too many ways, and it will never evolve as rapidly as android, period. Such is the nature of a corporate controlled closed source platform ....i don't give a shit about ios 8 and apple being under pressure to give more 3rd party control over the platform , or new, larger hardware etc. All of which to follow androids lead. Your type of apple fanboyism never cease to be amusing though. you're so defensive and concerned with apple being seen as inferior in the publics eye, that you want to create conflict to compensate. Get over it. Plus, you also give apple fanboys a bad name, many are typically much brighter and logical than you sound
  • LOL, at you name calling because it's hard for you to swallow your pride that android is nothing but a clone open os. You can call me idiots all you want but you will all remain trap into this mobile world apple introduced. As for being a better platform, 3rd party developers would disagree since they make a lot more money on ios. That would certainly explain why most apps get release on android first oops!!! I forgot it's the reverse. It's funny how things are obvious when someone else does it first. I have to credit those android engineers for admitting to going back to the drawing boards and changed course from cloning bb and instead cloning the iphone if they can admit so, why can't you? #cantrewritehistory
  • You're an idiot
  • read the whole tread, toukale made some valid points which I must confess if you were in an actual debate with him/her, you would have lost sorely. Name calling is a terrible point to make in defense of android. It really only shows your lack of platform knolledge. I suppose you may call me some names now. Before you do, let me inform you that I am a College Grad in Computer Science and have worked in the field of Computer Science for 16 years. Toukale made some valid points to which you had no valid responses. Please do some better research and enlighten us if you have something useful to say. Btw, I rarely ever writeon these boards, maybe this is just your way of having fun. Forgive me if I seem too preachy, but it would seem to me we are all here to learn and also yes, voice our preferences, not call each other idiots because we lack the information to respond appropriately.
  • Um no, the weather widget is not the same as full scale, customizable desktop widgets. Good for you though.
  • I'm a user of iOS and Android and both of them have their advantages and flaws but tbh I have found that Android fans tend to know more about hardware and software. No one claims Android invented anything, that would be Google doings anyways as Android is a platform, but no one claims that either People are just stating facts when they say Android implemented them first and that apple was late to the game. Also Apple has no more to do with ARM than any other OEM, they are all signed on as partners with ARM. Research goes a long way to stop oneself from developing foot in mouth disease.
  • We will see how much pull Apple has left when it comes to influence in the usa. waiting for this apple pay/nfc pay to take off now that apple is in.
  • Thank Apple for what? You do know that Android was in development in 2003, then Google bought them in like 05/06. The 1st Android phone the G1 released right after the iPhone did, and immediately the developer community started hacking and making contributions. So what am I thanking them for exactly? Releasing a "smartphone" that didn't have full web browsing, copy/paste, and several other key fetures that the BB, Palm treo and windows phone all had at that time?
  • Did you just type did not have full web browsing? Wow!!! trying to rewrite history because I remember specifically, the iphone introducing the first true mobile web browser on the first iphone, before that everyone was using some fake internet (WAP browser), yours truly included. Let's not forget also apple introduced webkit to the world and open sourced it, which btw your google chrome is currently riding its cocktail, but no, apple does not do anything. Try as you might your can't rewrite history. Here is a nice article to refresh your memory, btw it was written in 2011. I also need the urge to find out what happened to those great companies you mentioned, like bb, palm and windows phone. Whatever happened to all of them? http://www.businessinsider.com/iphone-android-smartphones-2011-6?op=1
  • This is you Apple boy !! now piss off you whiney little biaaaaaach!! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fJ3RLSK_bGc
  • Giving up here I see, hey that's what happens when you run out of things to defend your stance. First you start adding lol with your replies, then comes the name calling, finally one start to link youtube. Bravo!!!! fit the profile to a tee.
  • To funny. It's sad it's true. Posted via the Android Central App
  • No wait, this is you apple boy....except you've probably never had a girlfriend, or ever been layed for that matter....lololol Douchebag!! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FFhjDX-DUew
  • Giving up here I see, hey that's what happens when you run out of things to defend your stance. First you start adding lol with your replies, then comes the name calling, finally one start to link youtube. Bravo!!!! fit the profile to a tee.
  • You're dumber than a box of shit "toukale", and a stubborn, ignorant little douche ! You and others as extreme as you will always feel the need to defend apple against the platform with superior functionality, versitility, infinite customization, and raw power. This is because it's so easy for even you to see why so many have prefered android for so long, and will continue to. Being 3 years late and finally providing larger iphone displays won't change that. Now, continue to enjoy the negative media frenzy Apple is suffering from the week of the big launch, and shed a tear or two, lolololololol
  • Did someone say over 10 million, biggest and most successful company on planet earth is having a bad week. The same company that's making more money than all android oem's combine? yes, they are having a bad week, how is htc, sony, lg, samsung doing lately? I am sure they would love to be having such bad week as apple is having this week.
  • And that is why Apple is going after other companies (especially Samsung) in court. Making the platform and individual programs for every phone, be it Windows, Google or Samsung and the Android platform claiming it is all stolen technology. Apple lost a lot of those court battles and was even found to be in violation of some of Samsung and Googles copyrighted code on top of everything. Apple was a great platform originally, but it did not evolve with the user like android did. Android is fully customizable out of the box while apple is not. Apple may be more profitable but look at its user, Android is cheaper, faster, more customizable and more user friendly out of the box. Not to mention you don't HAVE to get a new Android every year because your 5 won't work on the IOS 8 platform. I had an original 5 when IOS 7 came out it refused to work properly for the next year. My ipad is the same way and my wife's iphone 4s and ipad mini refuse to work properly since the introduction of IOS 7. 6 months ago I bought a Note 3 and have not looked back, the fact Apple is slacking on their devices quality and their programming is apparent, and it shows in their slipping sales. Posted via Android Central App
  • Lol Posted via the Android Central App
  • Dumbass, Mobile Safari is Webkit. Guess who kickstarted Webkit & was their main benefactor? Google. Oh, and Microsoft actually invented ALL of this shit, since they make about $12.00 per Android & like $14.00 per iPhone. Not that Windows Phone is a viable platform, even at 8.1.1. God, its hell.
  • What you meant to say if you're wanting to sound informed, is that Apple brought the Smartphone world to where it was in 2008. Android and Google brought it to where it is today. If apple had gotten us to where we are today, we'd all have 4" 720p screens that only could display an app drawer and browser. Instead, look who's got big screens, pull down notifications, lock screen info/widgets, a mapping service, and the overall look of the OS.
  • Yep, big innovation there. Again with big screen, and 720p as innovation. You do know those are not android innovations right? That's the problem with android fans and that's all you guys can default to, because at the end of the day android has not brought a goddamn thing to this mobile world that's original. Notification, widget, nfc, mapping are not android innovation and never will be. But the way we all use our current phones was all thinks to apple. #dealwithit.
  • Both arguments you guys are making are ridiculous. Toukale, if I listen to what you are saying, then Apple hasn't innovated a damn thing either, at least nothing you have brought up. Phones, apps, touchscreens...all this existed before the iphone as well, just like nfc, big screens, and everything else you mentioned. So nobody is innovating, according to you. However, if you look at the definition of INNOVATE(make changes in something established, especially by introducing new methods, ideas, or products), which you haven't, you will see that everything you guys are mentioning are innovations.
  • Truer words have never been spoken...I may never but an iPhone nor do I care for Apple, however they need credit where credit is due...same with Google and android...innovation is repurposing and using things differently...stop the flaming both of you it's pathetic Posted via Android Central App
  • And why is it apple didn't have NFC till iphone 6 while other phones had it last year? Posted via Android Central App
  • You realize Android was in development LONG before the iPhone right? It had time to start being developed and be bought by Google 18 months before the release of the 1st iPhone. Android was announced 5 months after the iPhone was released. I don't care if it's Apple or Google or both of them working together. You can't build an entire OS from (mostly) scratch in 5 months. In short Android was going to happen with or without the iPhone. Posted from area 51 on my Sprint GS5
  • Why would you say "you welcome"?? Did you invent the smartphone? Then STFU. Google has every right to say of you want this version of Android with Play Store, follow these simple steps. Otherwise here's the source code, go nuts.
  • iPhone was a leap frog move, innovative for sure, but a leapfrog not a new paradigm. Windows CE (which had been around for a decade before iOS) was already headed in that direction. Jobs did a brilliant job of packaging, getting rid of keyboard, app store, etc. Those were the innovations that Apple made. It was all about integration and data consumption. MicroSoft was still focused on business needs and it being a mini computer. But they already had all the pieces. They were the ones who evolved touch screens before Apple did. So I'd say thank Apple, but thank Microsoft and Palm and Blackberry as well (and even Apple again for the original Netwon).
  • iPhone was a leap frog move, innovative for sure, but a leapfrog not a new paradigm. Windows CE (which had been around for a decade before iOS) was already headed in that direction. Jobs did a brilliant job of packaging, getting rid of keyboard, app store, etc. Those were the innovations that Apple made. It was all about integration and data consumption. MicroSoft was still focused on business needs and it being a mini computer. But they already had all the pieces. They were the ones who evolved touch screens before Apple did. So I'd say thank Apple, but thank Microsoft and Palm and Blackberry as well (and even Apple again for the original Netwon).
  • The reason it is not anti-trust is because Android and Google's apps are not the same thing. Maps/GMail/Chrome/ect...are not a part of Android. They are just apps. And while Android is open source, Google's apps are not. Android will work just fine without Google's apps. If you really don't want to play by Google's rules, you have the option of using Android by itself still. Just like you always did.
  • Very convenient and funny too since those things used to be part of android at the begining. Google have slowly moved them out the past two years as a way to hold it over those oem's head, plenty have been written about it. http://arstechnica.com/gadgets/2013/10/googles-iron-grip-on-android-cont... In a way, I am glad because if those oem's wants to compare and compete with apple, they should do everything that apple do and own the whole thing. Till this day apple remains the only company out there that controls the whole stack and their destiny.
  • You seem to be forgetting Microsoft now does the same thing too.
  • Well, too soon to tell. Will get back to that in a few years and see how it's holding up.
  • Too bad microsoft is junk. Posted via Android Central App
  • None of those apps are required to use Android. The OS will still work just fine. Google is not obligated (legally or morally) to give you access to it's apps for free.
  • Those are things are still very much part of Android. What people seem to be confused by is the fact that Android is open source and free. OEM's can use it however they see fit (see Amazon Fire product line). What has never been open and free for OEMs to use are all of the proprietary apps that Google created that link to their ecosystem. As the article you referenced mentioned, there are AOSP version that can be used in place of any of the Google owned apps. If an OEM wants it's phone to be in Google ecosystem it will need to follow their rules. Otherwise they can launch devices without access to the Play Store as they do in other markets. Problem being most of us want access to those services and will not buy a phone that doesn't have it, and the OEM's know it.
    Doesn't RIM also control both hardware and software side of their business, so how do they also not control their destiny? Nokia did it for years as well. How are they doing now? The fact that you think Apple is the only company out there that controls everything makes it really hard to take you serious.
  • Those apps have never been part of Android, and they are still not part of Android. I promised I would stay out of all this stupidity after seeing the history of webkit being fantasized, but this needed corrected.
  • Android IS free for the OEM's to do as they please. Look at what Amazon does. This are requirements if anyone wants access to GOOGLE PLAY, which is not open like the rest of Android. People need to understand that first and foremost. Also, yes services are a big draw for income, but companies like LG, HTC and even Samsung can't keep up with Google when it comes to their infrastructure and list of services in the US and many other countries. Even further, even if they somehow managed to have an equal level of infrastructure, Google's already established its position and isn't stopping any time soon. Add that on to the fact that they cover Android, iOS, OSX and Windows and NONE of the other companies outside of Amazon, Apple, and Microsoft can compete while making a profit. So yes, companies are going to try to create their own services that are better than Google's. But a company like HTC, for example, can't create one, run it solely on HTC devices, and compete with the income that they have, when Google can create a similar service for everyone. That day MAY be coming, but it's almost definitely years off.
  • I think everyone understand the difference, the problem for google is that those things were all part of the aosp at first. Google just recently (2yrs ago) started to pull everything to google play as a way to make aosp less attractive and more difficult for those oem's to compete with them on services. That's what google will have to defend against once government around the world starts to look at this more closely.
  • What you said is just plain wrong. Google can require whatever they want to for OEM's to have use of their services. No one is forcing the OEM's to do any of it. They can choose to make their Android phones without Google services and do with the OS as they please. Google has the right to make their product as uniform across all devices as possible. They want customers to have the same experience on any device they may pick up. If you see Google requirements as bloat then go buy a fire phone. No one is making you use an Android phone with Google's services. Posted via Android Central App on the Moto X
  • Especially >I'm the kind of guy who stops a microwave at one second to feel like a bomb defuser.
  • What about Google now launcher? Can't beleive people still put up with touchwiz, sense, etc. Say what you want, there is a distinguishable lag between skins and pure android. Need proof? Go play with a stock htc m8 to a GPE m8.
  • Dude its not funny anymore........you make me sad.
  • Should have always been that way Posted via Android Central App
  • I am definitely pro Google, but I think we should be given a choice and not forced. Posted via Android Central App
  • Well at the end you can always delete the apps from your homescreen and put whatever the hell you want on it. That's the power of Google. Posted via Android Central App
  • Exactly Posted via Android Central App
  • I agree but no matter what android phone you have Google apps should be there. Android is google no matter if a samsung, htc, or LG. They all ad bloat ware and we don't need another camera gallery or music player just play music will do I want close to all 16 gigs when I buy a 200 16 gig phone that I'm paying for Google does it the right way. Posted via Android Central App
  • There's this "Play Store" that has all sorts of options for you out there.
  • Yeah, I felt the exact same way having to put up with Sense for 18 months because HTC would not let me remove it. They brought this on themselves.
  • What you want to replace Sense with? Depends on user most people don't like pure Android experience and some skins are really better
  • What would I have replaced it with? Vanilla Android. I didn't buy the phone because I liked Sense. I bought it for the hardware. I have never seen a single skin that is better than vanilla Android since ICS. Not one.
  • While I agree with you, don't share this with Nonexus or Richard Yarrell lol
  • I respect your opinion and personal preference about Vanilla Android. But Most people who have used both Sense UI and Vanilla Android likes Sense better. Even AC editors seems to prefer Sense over Vanilla Android. In true Sense ;) Sense is really better, its dialer app is awesome and its launcher is customizable. when you install new apps your apps arrangement don't get messed up but that is what happens on my Moto X, these are minors things but they do count. also Sense Looks more modern too. but Android L looks great. modern. also quick settings, Sense give better experience. what more? Sense 6 on M8 is freakishly fast. (yes that's probably cuz Sense chooses fast animations and Vanilla android uses slow animations) Just scroll down the notification area on Sense UI and Vanilla you'll feel the difference. There will be a lot more things but that's what are hot on my list. Better Dailer and Rearrangement of apps in launcher is really missing from Vanilla android. Vanilla android is just limited.
  • It is a myth that most HTC users prefer sense. Even HTC does not agree with you...thats why they will not allow you to uninstall it. They know full well what would happen if they ever allowed us to remove Sense.
  • I'd pick Sense over Vanilla any day of the week. Posted via Android Central App
  • Its not myth, Its your denial just.
    Anyways if you own M8 you can remove Sense UI, you need to be S-OFF and you can convert to GPE.
    peace.
  • If you can give factual evidence of a majority of people liking Sense, then your claim is plausible. But until then, your claim is just as ridiculous as JeffDenver's. And no, the AC Team does not count.
  • The fact that you need to be S-Off means you cannot really remove it. Thats the whole point. You should not have to alter your device just to remove their stupid skin.
  • Their hardware; their rules. Don't like it? Buy other hardware. Simple. Posted from my TARDIS!
  • Where's your data to back up your statement? Heck, most people haven't ever seen stock Android, let alone have a preference. I use Sense on my One M8 because it's there an it's "good enough." I have stock Android on every other device that I own. If more people had the opportunity to see and use stock Android then more would prefer it. MTCW Posted via Android Central App
  • Sense used to REALLY suck Posted via Nexus 7 2013 or Galaxy S5
  • Yes you are right it used to be but now its the best Skin starting from HTC ONE M7 and M8 it got a lot better and simpler. BTW TouchWiz still sucks. People who don't care about all this skin things won't complaint cuz they don't know much but people like who review gadgets they will tell you TouchWiz sucks.. but some won't say so so they not be called biased ;) cuz many people love Samsung. so they have to say touchwiz is good ;)
  • They care when they see lag. And yeah, there is lag on Sense phones. Even the M8. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7oCDbrru8SU
  • You have the choice to disable/not use it. Don't be so self entitled.
  • There is a choice. Its called iOS, Windows, Firefox OS. Etc....
    Google should have Android the way they want it to be...
    Sorry if my reply sounded like I was being a jerk...not the intent... Posted via Android Central App
  • The a fire phone waiting for you.. If you don't want Google Apps. Posted via the Android Central App
  • Nice...that's the right way. Google services are useful unlike the bloat Samsung puts.
  • ^^this^^ >I'm the kind of guy who stops a microwave at one second to feel like a bomb defuser.
  • Google+, hangouts, play newsstand etc are just a few apps that aren't useful for many many people.. Posted via the Android Central App
  • I literally use these three many times every day.... so it works for me.
  • But you can disable them just like you delete any other app. Unlike Samsung's bloat.
  • ?hangouts is my default messaging app because it syncs with my g watch . And I use G+. Posted via Android Central App
  • That's a great move from Google, i agree with @AndroidEatsAppleCores. That's the only way to maintain the system the more consistent on all the infinite devices available out there.
    @Jefferey you're not forced to use the Google Apps, that's the beauty of Android, they give you the choice, if you don't want the apps bothering in your home screen, just go and move them away. The persistent search bar, well, that's not that good, but i admit i use it a lot, even if my phone is using a custom rom.
  • I never use the search bar because it's not there... Nova lets me remove it. Yay options! Posted from my Nexus 5 via Android Central App
  • Ditto. When I want to search I either long-press my menu button for a text input search, or long-press my home button for a voice search. No screen real estate wasted.
  • My HTC M8 let me remove search bar widget on home screen. but Moto X doesn't..
  • It's their software... They play how they want... Posted via Android Central App
  • I think it's fair trade for all the work that Google is putting into it. Posted via the Android Central App
  • The point is for the first-time Android device owner to be certain of having useful services already preloaded on the device. The Google apps are a suite of useful tools that help the owner organize his day-to-day and to get information as and when he/she needs it. By having Google apps as a standard on Android phones, the user may not need to download much of anything else and still has the option of uninstalling/disabling most of the Google apps if desired. Most people are familiar with the web versions of Google services so the Google app suite is nice to have on the your mobile. The alternative would be for the manufacturer to present their own blend of services and apps which would be confusing for anyone who switches between devices from different Android manufacturers. I don't see anything wrong with this unless Google services suck, which they don't.
  • "must provide access to a "collection" of 13 Google apps"
    As much as I like stock Android, there is such thing as Google bloatwares. (Yes, I know I can disable them.)
  • Hmm... I'm not sure most of them can really be called bloatware in the strictest sense. Though it's hard to make a case for the likes of G+ and newsstand beyond "Google wants you to use them". Posted via Android Central App
  • Few are not all, Gmail is must have app so is hangout and maps that is awesome music? come on man more than half of them are useful for me.
  • Most people require a music player app on their phone, do they not? Anyway my point is more that bloatware is an overused term which doesn't actually just mean "a pre-installed app I don't find useful". Posted via Android Central App
  • Bloatware is anything that comes preinstalled that can also be found in the play store.
  • I hate messaging in hangouts so use the messaging app instead. I use the email address I have used for years and only have a gmail address because Google forces you to have one. I have never used Google+ and probably never will. The killer Google apps for me are YouTube, maps, chrome and translate. Posted via the Android Central App
  • Yes, so they are required to put a Google folder on the main home screen when you first start up a new phone. Sure it's a little annoying but all you have to do is remove the folder. I also agree that some of then are like bloatware, but at least it's easy to deal with bloatware lol.
  • That's great because out of 13 only 4 are kept on my phone while the rest are removed just like all the sync/cloud junk bloatware from Samsung.
  • "Our bloatware comes before your bloatware."
  • Which is exactly how it should be.
  • I like it.
  • Google seems to be slowly increasing these requirements. I use and enjoy Google services, but this is a very slippery slope they are playing on. I do not want android to turn into IOS. I am still worried about how locked down android wear is too... This is becoming a worrying trend.
  • Especially with the sue-happy EU. It's a slippery slope indeed. After all, didn't MS get in big trouble for 'forcing' IE and their own software use in their own OS... I've always found it funny how every OS does what MS was fined for. (Not saying anyone should be or should've been fined.)
  • It's only if they want Play store access. Of note, the Amazon Fire phone doesn't have any of these restrictions.
  • Amazon has also dumped unimaginable amounts of money developing their app store. Something most oems cannot or will not do. Google has the Android space by the balls if it wants force the issue. Posted via the Android Central App
  • Who wants a phone without the play store? Posted via the Android Central App
  • The 5 people that bought Amazon Fire Phones.....not clear if they knew in advance they weren't getting the store though.
  • Agreed. I also find it curious how Google's motto "Don't be evil" was directed towards Microsoft, but now Google is going down a similar (and possibly worse) path as Microsoft, but yet most people don't seem to really care.
  • "Sue-happy EU" is an amusing concept in contrast to the litigation free, completely functional and non broken US legal system. Besides, the Americans are all about the "free market", if IE is a better product than the other browsers, they have nothing to worry about, right? Anyway, as jonnyships points out, it's irrelevant as this is an entirely different situation. Posted via Android Central App
  • I sense a bit of sarcasm.
  • Sue-happy as far as Google/MS/major tech companies , yes . I am all for a free market. I am merely stating that based on the history of major US tech companies in EU countries, it's only matter of time before this becomes an issue, as it always does. It is being forced. I bet if MS gave PC companies the "option" to have all MS software "front and center" or not be allowed to use the MS Store/Live services/OneDrive/ETC, The EU would file lawsuits without question.
  • Android can't turn into iOS so long as we have 3rd party app integration. Google does not forbid you to use alternative markets or even install your own APKs. That is never going to happen in iOS.
  • No, but they can hold oems hostage by refusing to allow access to the play store. Let's be honest. How many people would by any device that didn't have access to the play store(minus an Amazon product maybe for their app store)? As long as Google is careful and has no serious competition, they can slowly lock down all of android with requirements for play store access. Posted via the Android Central App
  • If you have a choice to use any market you want, and install any apps you want, it is not locked down by definition.
  • Uh I think lots of people, like everyone in China. The OS is open but Google's proprietary apps and services aren't. I think this is a really good thing. A few years ago Android was like the wild west. There wasn't a lot of consistency and it hampered the user experience. I think most people wanted Google to exert a little more control, to rein things in. I remember Android Central talking about it in articles and on the podcast. Android is a really well polished product now, and it only keeps getting better. If you've ever used Windows phone or iOS then you know there's a long list of things you can't do. That's why I choose to keep coming back to Android, I have much more flexibility and freedom.
  • The point is not what Android is today, but what it could become tomorrow if Google chooses to hold the play store hostage for complete control. Android is so great today because of all the manufactures experimenting with it. Where do you think all the post ICS features came from? Most of them were in skins first and Google cherry picked them for stock android. Things like quick settings in the notification bar were in Sense and Touchwiz for years before google added them. I can definitely see eastern countries using third party app stores, but western countries hardly use them at all and I would wager will never start. OEM's HAVE to have access to the play store or a similarly stocked one of their own if they want to be successful in the western world.
  • Google has every right to hold the Play store hostage. It's their store. If there is a demand for alternatives, they will happen on their own. Amazon's store alone has 250,000 apps already.
  • Your forgetting that Google has already tried to get rid of sd card support by stopping you installing apps onto them. This feature has only just returned to enable cheap phones with 4gb memory to be manufactured. Posted via the Android Central App
  • How it should be..
  • After owning a GPE HTC One M8 ... to me its pretty simple. Android is at its best when its not skinned... Touch wiz plain sucks, Sense is better but still nothing next to pure google android. WIndows phone, and iOS are not skinned and IMHO they are both better user experiences than any skinned android. I honestly feel like more / pure google is better for all of android.. When you compare pure Android to Windows phone and iOS it competes way better than any skinned versions... it really comes down to the looks and app stores/specific features at that point.
  • Sounds good to me. Hopefully eventually we will get to the point where google will be able to demand in the contract that OEMs limit modifications to apps and launchers that can be removed and mandate that OEMs provide prompt updates for 2 years on EVERY device they sell. I'm also surprised that Samsung is still allowed to ship devices with the samsung app store preinstalled. That seems way worse than phones coming with Bing preinstalled. I dream of a day when android users will be able to shop for our phone of choice and all we need to worry about is if we like the hardware. I'm not even against software add ons by OEMs but I shouldn't be stuck with mods I don't like if stock android offers better.
  • They should also have a contract to not duplicate Google apps. I am sick of samsung BS
  • 100% agree here and that is why I'm switching to a Moto X... Posted via the Android Central App
  • I like this. They should have done this long time ago.
  • The next step is to require manufactures to allow users to choose stock android or their skinned version at device setup. I'd prefer google not allow skins at all except through the play store. But I guess that'll never happen
  • At some point you can see it as a protection. So Android has, in Google's opinion, good starting apps. Not a weird mail app or no mail app at all, but at least Gmail. There are a lot of Smartphone owners who don't know how to use their Smartphone. I have seen a lot of people who handle their phone to someone else because they don't know how to download it. And a lot of people only know about games, because they see it from someone else. But they don't know anything about useful apps. On that point it is good that Google demands this. But if this all is required, it is not a lot. 13 Google apps don't need to be installed, like Google Maps and Gmail. Because item 2 says: IF there is an icon named Google, a click on it must show the 13 apps. They are not saying, that there MUST BE an icon named Google. So if you don't show this icon, you don't need to install all these apps. And if I'm correct, the apps Google Street View, Google Voice Search and Google Calendar needs to be in the App drawer. If I click on the App drawer icon, apps are animated from beneath, so 'one level below'. They may not be placed left or right on the other home screens. It's probably not what they mean, but what they are saying :P.
  • I'm the type of person who was doing this anyway. I like having all my Google apps in one spot. Just like I like having all my Samsung apps in one place. I was thrilled when I picked up my new phone and the organization was already done for me. Then I just had to put then in a different order so my most used apps were easier to reach. Posted via Android Central App
  • If it was Microsoft, this would be labeled as "anti-trust" and "stifling competition" and would be forced to show a ballot to allow users to select which browser and/or services they would like to use when setting up the device.
  • This is different. Times have changed. Their is the play store to get different apps. At the time MS force fed IE on everyone, 90% of the people didn't know there were alternatives. At that time, people in America thought they needed AOL to get online, period. Putting your brand on something, and preloading apps is a little different now, then it was then. If that were the case then ATT and Verizon would be in a world of hurt forcing bloat ware on phones. It may be a nuisance for some, but it's not apparently against the law or underhanded.
  • There not their. Lol.
  • Problem is Microsoft doesn't allow this with Windows Phone. With them every browser and music/video player has to use IE or xbox to function and they just don't function as well as either android or IOS. If WP ever truly allowed different browser and music video player engines on its platform IOS would fade significantly. To me that is the main drawback to the platform. Posted via the Android Central App
  • I think the thing I'm most grateful for with this is the requirement long pressing the home button gives you Google search/Google now. Before Samsung was using this for S Voice which was so we annoying.
  • As it should be. Google has spent a lot iif time and money on Android. No shame to that game. At least Googles apps are easily uninstalled.
  • Gmail isn't any better than hotmail especially the app... Not having the ability to turn off conversation view actually makes it about the worst android email client.
  • Sure that's your opinion, but I think Gmail is great. Been using it for years and it's only gotten better. I really like the layout and functionality of the app, and the conversation view is the best I've seen. I think it'd pretty unobtrusive.
  • Yes, it's good. Posted via Android Central App
  • The EU now has even more of an excuse to sue Google for every cent they got. I love Google services but Google is trying to slowly turn Android into iOS. What happened to choices?
  • you have the choice to delete the folder or disable the apps. it's not like google is saying use our apps or your use of the phone is in any way compromised. when you exaggerate, it weakens your point.
  • Lol nice
  • As it should've always been. Google is the force behind Android and they should get the credit and use out of it. Posted via Android Central App
  • I wish they add something where you can select which Google apps experience you want, just make it mandatory to pick a package. Basic=Gmail, Gmaps, Youtube, and the Play store then a Standard with the additional Play apps, and a Business with Drive and such and Full for you Google soldiers. 13 unremovable apps is too much and some will definitely become bloatware. EDIT: Truthfully, if Google learned how to market their stuff better they would'nt need to shove so many of their apps down our throats at once.
  • Somebody has been watching The Internship too much lately!
  • I don't mind if Google includes bloatware, but I should be able to uninstall them (not just disable). The same goes for the manufacturer apps. What i don't like with manufacturer apps is you can only use them on their devices. I should be able to use my phone apps on my tablet and vice versa. If I can't run the same app on both devices, then I'm going to switch to an app that I can run on both.
  • Interesting connumdrum for google. Might we see more manufacturers opting for alternative app stores (ALA blackberry), or making their own like samsung? I think princess Leia said it best: "The more you tighten your grip...."
  • I still feel Samsung's back button on the right is so awkward (and maybe a little blasphemous? been using nexus as personal phone, sorry)
    And the clicky home button is definitely something to deter users from easily accessing google now...
  • As long as i can remove anything they are forcing the OEM to put on my phone, i'm fine with that. I can't stand those damn Apple app that u can't delete/remove on the iOS. When I say remove...that means I don't ever want to see it. And no....hidden in some folder or the app drawer is not considered as removed IMO.
  • Apple robots.......android is a linux kernel.........linux was here before apple, so yea shut the fuck up , by the way, apple iphone used to be a solid phone, the new 6 is a joke, cheap and its made mostly in china Posted via the Android Central App
  • More Android can never b bad Posted via Android Central App
  • Google bloat. Posted via Android Central App (Moto X)
  • They spend a lot of time on the software creating it and then giving it out for free, yes does it come at some kind of price " technically?" Of course it does. I think they have every right to ask that at the very least, their products be front and somewhat center. I know when I buy a phone AT&T has no problem making sure that the first choice for saving my contacts is through their stupid Contacts app. And now after updating to 4.4.2 on my Note 3 when you try to save a contact Samsung actually tries to deter you from saving it to your Google contacts with FUD? Suggesting every time the device. They try to keep you from getting more intertwined with Google. It's deceitful at best. Knowing full well saving it to the device can end you up with lost numbers because if you lose the device you can't get those numbers back. They also think that I want to hear they're stupid boot up tune with the blazing white screen. So seeing powered by Android at startup silently, is no problem for me. Why develop something for free, spend tons of money on research and development, and then be expected to be hidden on the software as well? That doesn't make any sense and it seems like a ridiculous argument. Manufacturers always have the option of developing Android without using Google Apps. There's plenty of Chinese software companies that are doing it and doing well. It would be the equivalent of asking Coke or Pepsi to sponsor an event, be the real power of why that event is happening in the first place, and then tell them we don't want you to put Pepsi or Coke sponsor ads anywhere near the event, we just want your money. Unfortunately places like the European Union think exactly like that. Posted via Ash William's Boomstick
  • Good Posted via Android Central App
  • All those "quotation marks" in the linked paragraphs are giving me a "headache". "Just saying"
  • Ultimately offering the user more customization options would be better...Whenever you first start up a new phone, you should be given an option of using the OEM skin or a closer to Stock Android Skin (which has inbuilt software support for the OEM customizations) along with the standard account sign in. From there you should be offered a series of choices of default apps, be allowed to uninstall the series of apps you don't want. Finally, being offered the ability to theme the device fully, if you don't have time to do it right then it could be done later through the settings. That to me sounds like an ideal experience, one which shows the user the options, allows them to be rid of the bloatware they don't need and use the apps they desire. Though this solution may be difficult to maintain and implement, it is something that I would consider ideal...Making Android a user friendly experience.
  • Ppl are sooo funny,how they defiantly defend "their" os. Apple may have started several trends in mobile OS,but Android is doing it waaay better now,point blank. Jobbs was out of touch w consumers like that new CEO of apple is way out of touch.apple is overrated.overpriced,but i do LOVE selling their phones bcuz of the great profit i make off those overpriced hunks of metal,which is all they are.
  • I'm the kind of Android user who this won't bother. I don't root my phones (though I do use 3rd party launchers). I have also been steadily migrating over to native Google apps (unless a 3rd party simply does the job better). There is no questioning when you are looking at out of the box iOS (actually I guess there is not difference in out of the box vs years out of the box) but why should Android be any different. Hardly anyone in the Android world leaves things as is.
  • I was waiting for some one to bring up treo's. But being slow to update and change they became obsolete. Posted via the Android Central App