Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Chai Time: What Features Stock Android Needs-Sahen Rai

Fragmentation is an ugly thing. It takes perfectly good software, and ruins it by adding bloatware and taking away smoothness and fluidity.The likes of Touchwiz, Sense, and UX ruin the android experience for people like me. Who want their Android clean and not tampered with by other companies. With that said, there are some features that others OEMS have added that could make the stock Android experience even better. Here are some of those features.

1) Multiwindow

I'm not a big fan of Touchwiz. Even now that it looks better, I still have issues with the overall feel of the software. It all seems thrown together, and all too colorful. Another thing about Touchwiz that irks me, is that fact that its full of bloatware. Useless junk applications that you will never use. When is the last time you went to a party and tried syncing your music with other Samsung device owners?

Samsung Group Play/Pocketnow

Yeah this probably never really happened.... However, there's definitely one feature us Samsung haters can agree is awesome, and that's multiwindow.


This might not make sense on every Nexus device. But on something like the Nexus 6 where you could easily fit up to three apps and a brick on the screen at once, it doesn't make sense not to have it. The other cool thing about having it on stock Android, is that it would be implemented in a much better looking and clever way. As it stands,it doesn't really make sense to purchase a large stock android device without it.Nexus 9 anyone?

2) Moto Suite

Active Display

 I've had a Moto X as my daily driver for about a year now, and other than some recent battery issues, I've had a pretty good time with it. One of the reasons it was so useful is the Moto suite. Now I'm not going into the suite in too much detail, but it includes the following features and more:

Active Display: battery friendly notifications that flicker on when the phone knows you're looking at it

Camera: Shake to activate

Moto Voice: always on google now; activates with a catch phrase

Moto Migrate: migrates contacts, pictures, and even phone data from an older phone (includes iOS or flip phones!)

Now by themselves these features may not seem like much, but together they make the Android experience a lot better overall.  They're simple, but it's often the little things that matter in the world of software.

3) Double Tap to Wake
LG Double Tap to Wake/Whistleout

Yes I know this already sort of exists on the Nexus 6, but for whatever reason Google decided not to enable it! Who knows why; I just know that it would make Android a lot nicer overall. Like the Moto Suite, it's a small addition that really goes a long way. Not having to press a hardware button can lengthen a device's lifespan, and also just makes it more convenient to get into. It's sort of like the fingerprint scanner on the newer iphones, it doesn't really change how you use the device. But it's a simple change that over the life of the phone will save you a lot of time.

4) A More Unified Messenger

As of right now, Google has three core messenging apps: Messenger, Hangouts, and Google Voice. While integrating Google voice and sms and Hangouts messages into the Hangouts app was a great step, it seems dumb that that they had to add another app into the mix. Don't get me wrong, Messenger is easily my favorite messaging app to date. I just wish it was all consolidated into one app like with imessage.  I suppose this isn't really a stock android problem, but if Google made something like this, it could really help with fragmentation issues somewhat.. Instead of having do go into messenger and hangouts, or have to switch apps on different phones, I could just use one app for every device. I could send a hangouts message on my tablet, a friend could respond with an sms, and I could go to my phone and send a selfie via sms all through the same app.

5) More Customizable Launcher

I'm actually a pretty big fan of the Google Now Launcher. It's clean, fast, and gets me to where I need to go. The problem I have with it is the lack of customization. Most other launchers allow you to add icon packs, and change a lot of things about the look and feel of the launcher. But unfortunately the Google Now launcher doesn't allow fun. Yes I realize you could just install another launcher, but this launcher comes with every stock Android device, and you'd think these simple customization options would be there.

Tried out any of these features on other phones? Let me know what you think about them on Twitter @masala_tech, and remember to keep things spicy!

By Sahen Rai