For all its global popularity, the Android platform really does look like a bit of a mess right now.
Various custom skins, forked versions and stock editions all serve to make Google’s OS a far less polished alternative to Apple’s slick, one–size–fits–all iOS 7.
Google is clearly aware of this. It doesn’t like the fragmentation of its software any more than its power users and it clearly wants to stop it.
Hence releasing Android 4.4 KitKat with the ability to work on low-powered devices.
Its latest move, though, could prove to be its most helpful.
See, the Big G has apparently sat down with Samsung to work out a deal which will see its services brought front and centre on the Korean giant’s Galaxy smartphones and tablets.
Sammy has been pushing hard with its own chat, voip and custom services, which has clearly got Google worried.
The best example is its new Magazine UX, found on the latest Galaxy Tab Pro and Note Pro.
Frankly, it looks nothing like Android, pushing Google’s services as far away from the front of the slates as possible.
It’s also Sammy’s third Android skin, suggesting it only really wants Mountain View’s OS because it’s ostensibly free.
Clearly, Google isn’t happy. But seeing as Samsung is the world’s biggest mobile-maker, it can’t get too stroppy.
After all, including its services on Samsung phones is how Google makes its money from Android.
This new deal, which comes unsurprisingly just as Google divests itself of Motorola, will see Samsung put Google Play, Gmail, Newsstand and other apps to the forefront of future releases.
As the Re/code report which broke the news puts it, the arrangement brings, “...Samsung’s view of Android in line with Google’s own.”
Google’s concern runs deep. With 25% of shipped Android phones in the last three months of 2013 lacking its suite of apps, it’s reached a point where a quarter of its partners are essentially getting a free ride.
The notion of Android being an open source alternative seemed great when the platform launched.
Now though, Google has to wrest back control if it’s going to keep making money from those millions of Android users out there.
This deal, though, will help restore some sanity. Perhaps we’ll see an end to custom skins which only serve to confuse and annoy.
That’s wishful thinking, but if Google can hammer out a deal with Samsung, it can hammer out a deal with any of its manufacturers.
The hard work to make Android better starts now.