Report: Samsung to back off Android customization


— 9:24 AM on January 30, 2014

Samsung has developed a bit of a reputation for messing with Android. The company's mobile devices typically run a heavily reskinned version of the operating system loaded with Samsung-made software that replicates the functionality of Google's default apps. We haven't been thrilled with the modifications, and it seems the folks at Google share similar sentiments. According to Recode, Google has pressured Samsung to scale back its Android customization efforts.

Samsung-skinned Android implementations have been around for a while, but the company's new Magazine UX interface appears to have been the final straw. The updated UI debuted at CES and looks like a cross between Android widgets and Win8 tiles. The changes were reportedly too much for Google executives, who have brokered a deal to "bring Samsung's view of Android in line with Google's own," Recode says.

Interestingly, the deal doesn't appear to forbid Samsung from messing with Android entirely. In a statement to Recode, Samsung said it will "continue to identify and provide differentiated and innovative service and content offerings on our mobile devices." The company will reportedly consider changing or dropping Magazine UX, though. It's also set to stop featuring homegrown music, movie, and other content-related applications ahead of Google's own software.

Samsung's extensive Android customizations—and the fact that those tweaks tend to interfere with timely OS updates—have made me reluctant to recommend some of the company's devices. While I can understand the desire to offer a differentiated user experience, the fact is that many of Samsung's so-called enhancements actually make things worse. If Samsung backs off its customization efforts, the company's tablets and smartphones could become more appealing to those looking for a more streamlined, standardized Android experience.

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