Not long ago we we started hearing that Google would be implementing a new boot logo requirement. The document, first reported by Geek.com, is a bit vague and incomplete, but what it does show is a very simple and stylized “powered by Android” message that we’ve started seeing pop up in various boot sequences over the last few weeks.
We still don’t know everything about this move, so we’ll have to make some assumptions, and they could be flawed. Disclaimers aside, let’s look into the situation, the problem, what Google could be doing to address it, and why it’s a great idea, but ultimately won’t work.
Android is an amazing platform, but the only real unifying threads are the Play Store and Google Play Services. Gmail, Calendar, Contacts, Talk, and others that used to be considered “core” Google apps (or GAPPS to those in the Custom ROM community) are now available almost universally through the Play Store. Anyone with a device that’s powered by Android (and with the Play Store installed) can download, install, and update any of these apps whenever they want (though geographical limitations may apply).
That’s left OEMs like Samsung, HTC, LG, and others with quite a bit of latitude when it comes to the user experiences on their various devices. The perfect examples of this are the new Android-powered phones by Nokia — which don’t look anything at all like Android. On the surface, this isn’t a problem. Android is about what drives all these devices, and not something to be paraded around.
Unfortunately, this leaves end-users confused about what’s really going on. If you’ve got an iPhone or an iPad you’re running iOS. You may not care about the details, it’s simply “an Apple”. If you’re using Windows Phone, it doesn’t really matter who makes it, the OS and experience is almost completely the same — it’s simply a “Windows Phone”.
Android, on the other hand, is different. Your Samsung Galaxy S 4 runs Android. Your Nook runs Android. Your Kindle Fire runs Android. The new Nokia’s run Android. I think you’ll agree with me that the user experience between each of these devices is radically different. If you own one of these devices and someone asks you what it is, what’s your answer?
You probably mention the make and model — maybe not even that. You might just say “it’s a Galaxy” or “its a Samsung”. What they’re probably thinking is that it’s something different than their LG G2, and that you don’t have anything in common after all.
What Google is doing
Since we don’t have anything official from Google, we’ve got to jump to some assumptions. For the sake of argument, let’s assume that the leaked “powered by Android” styleguide is the real deal, and that Google intends for OEMs to begin placing that logo on the screen during the boot sequence. Fair enough?
Should both of these assumptions turn out to be true, it seems like Google is trying to help users understand that beneath the layers, it’s Android that’s doing all the heavy work. Not only that, if you want to switch phones, you can change to something that you’re already familiar with, because your last phone was also “powered by Android”.
Why it won’t work
Again, if our assumptions are correct, everything sounds good on paper — but it’s simply not going to work! Why? How many times a day do you reboot your Android powered smartphone or tablet? Sure, you power the screen off and on dozens of times, but you don’t really turn it off, do you? Unless you regularly run out of power, restarting your device is something you might do once a week, or perhaps even less frequently than that.
Android is a very stable operating system which doesn’t need rebooting all that often. Custom ROMmers may reboot a dozen times a day, but they’re probably not even going to see the new logo because those ROMs aren’t certified by Google. Even if the logo is added into the boot sequence of the AOSP code, Custom ROMs generally replace the stock boot animation with one of their own.
While it certainly won’t hurt, it’s not likely going to help all that much either. In the meantime, when someone asks you “what phone is that?” just tell them that “it’s an Android”. If they want to know more, they’ll ask, in the meantime you’ll have done more to help the Android brand than the new “powered by Android” logo ever will.
(We reached out to Google to see if the company wanted to comment on our thoughts, but had not heard back by the time this article went to press.)