Does Android Need Custom Skins?

Does Android Need Custom Skins?

News has been leaking out over the last few days about the new Motorola Droid phones. They sound amazing, with high-end specs like a 4.3-inch screen, 8-megapixel camera, even HDMI out. Unfortunately, it looks like Moto is also going to be slapping MotoBlur on these phones, and that’s a huge disappointment for me.

It’s not that I think stock Android is the greatest thing since sliced bread. To be honest, it’s far too plain for me. But I fix that with home replacements. I’ve tried several and for now have settled on LauncherPro. It’s simple, it’s customizable, it doesn’t slow my phone down, and it’s free. And if I decide I hate it or want a change, all it takes is a few clicks and I’m on to a new look for my phone.

One of the great things about Android is how individualized it can be. You can put my Droid next to my coworker’s, and not one of the screens is the same. We use different widgets, have our apps organized differently, etc. By starting with plain Android, the homescreen is a blank slate, and it’s up to the individual to make it theirs. It shouldn’t be on the consumer to hunt down a plainer home replacement if they hate MotoBlur or Sense UI, but since manufacturers make it difficult to turn these off, that becomes the only option.

Personally, I don’t think Android is nearly as unusable or ugly in stock form as Windows Mobile was. I understand that Sense UI started with HTC’s Windows phones, and from there other manufacturers attempted to copy it. But to me, it’s not worth having someone layer a skin on top of Android, delaying updates and forcing me into using a home replacement if I want a more clean experience. The only upside to Motorola using MotoBlur on the new Droids, for me, is that it keeps me from lusting after them for now. I’d rather wait for a Nexus 2 or another stock Android device. So thanks for saving me some cash, Motorola!

What’s your take on custom skins versus stock Android versus home replacements? Share your thoughts below!

As an Amazon Associate, we earn from qualifying purchases. If you are shopping on Amazon anyway, buying from our links gives Gear Diary a small commission.

About the Author

Zek has been a gadget fiend for a long time, going back to their first PDA (a Palm M100). They quickly went from researching what PDA to buy to following tech news closely and keeping up with the latest and greatest stuff. They love writing about ebooks because they combine their two favorite activities; reading anything and everything, and talking about fun new tech toys. What could be better?

3 Comments on "Does Android Need Custom Skins?"

  1. After just five days on a Motorola Dext I’d say that these custom skins really do more harm than good. I also got the impression that the widgets slowed the device down, and it’s sad that these custom UI’s actually make firmware upgrades a no go on all but the biggest, baddest devices. Until Android becomes more universally upgradeable, I’ll never see it as an alternative smartphone OS. The Android device you buy will be great for one year, and then it’ll just get stuck in a rut while higher version numbers fly overhead.

    • Francis Scardino | June 14, 2010 at 9:51 pm |

      I agree that custom UI’s do nothing more than slow down progress. I have not had an Android phone yet that I didn’t root and install a custom Rom on. So I don’t ever deal with OTA updates or wait for MFG’s to release the latest. On the other hand I have some friends who are not “enthusiasts” and don’t care about a custom Rom or what updates they are getting. So I think it all dependent on the user. Google aims to clear up fragmentation within the next year and promises to only release a new version once a year. Not to say incremental updates and fixes wont be released, but full version OS’s every few months should be a thing of the past. Android is no doubt moving fast up the smartphone ladder, just depends on what kind of user you are if its for you.

  2. Haven't mentioned it, but am really liking LauncherPro (home replacement for Android) that @questionfear mentioned:

Comments are closed.