When sites like Pocketnow review smartphones and tablets it can be somewhat difficult to flatten the playing field and return an unbiased evaluation comparing Apples to Apples (if you’ll pardon the pun). Part of this stems from the fact that in addition to comparing different hardware, journalists are also challenged with comparing dissimilar software features. These differences can reach beyond the user experience and can manifest anomalous readings in bench-marking utilities and negatively impact everyday performance. Thanks to “Google Editions” of the latest-and-greatest Android-powered smartphones, that’s about to change!
A while back we mused about the possibility of a Nexus-less world, or a world where every smartphone manufacturer would be welcome to highlight their flagship phone under the Nexus banner. These devices would showcase the pure Android experience, be available directly from Google through the Play Store, and be unlocked out of the gate. That vision hasn’t happened yet, but the announcement of Google Edition devices to be made available for sale directly from Google later this month may be the first step in realizing our dream: a unified Android-experience, regardless of manufacturer.
The Google Edition Galaxy S 4 from Samsung and One from HTC are getting a treatment that’s been limited to a very few devices in the past. Most of these are released under the “Nexus” name brand, but a few other devices have gotten the “pure Android experience” over the years. For example, not long ago, select Sony devices got Nexus-like treatment when the source-code for their ROMs was published in the AOSP alongside their Nexus counterparts.
From an end-user perspective, this is wonderful! Anyone can pick up a Nexus and know how to use it. There’s nothing tricky or peculiar about it. That’s not necessarily the case when someone tries to switch from a Samsung device running TouchWiz to an HTC device running Sense. Even the text messaging applications vary significantly.
From a developer perspective, Nirvana has almost been reached! These devices will have source-code available to pick apart and improve. Custom ROMs will be made faster, more durable, and will be more easily installed on Google Edition devices, as well as their un-Googled siblings.
Updates for these devices should come on or about the same schedule as that of Nexus-branded devices, which means patches will be more readily available, security will be improved, and fragmentation may start to become a thing of the past.
All in all, the “Google Edition” program (and we do hope it becomes a full-fledged “program”) is a fabulous thing for everyone — developers and users alike!