OEMs: If you’re going to mod that far, give us a path back to stock


My mother-in-law isn’t exactly what you’d call “technologically savvy”, but that doesn’t stop her from upgrading to the latest and greatest Android-powered smartphones every chance she gets. Normally, this wouldn’t be a problem, but I’ll give you three guesses who gets to support those devices. It wouldn’t be such an issue except at her age — how can I put this lightly — she’s a bit “set in her ways”.

Don’t get me wrong, she can whip out her phone and call anyone in her extremely wide social network faster than you can say “mint chocolate chip ice cream”. She’s got friends and relatives scattered all over the country. I’m thankful everyday that whenever she gets a new phone all I have to do is help her put in her Google credentials and all of her contacts, complete with phone numbers, email addresses, and mailing addresses are “automagically” restored — as long as she can find them.

A bone to pick

Yeah, so if we could go ahead and get a bunch of those Androids in here, that'd be great.

Yeah, so if we could go ahead and get a bunch of those Androids in here, that’d be great.

That’s where I’ve got a bone to pick with OEMs. She sticks with Android because it’s what she knows (and what she know’s I can support — if she makes the switch to Apple or Microsoft, she’s on her own). Because she’s been a Verizon customer for a very long time, that means she’s usually had a Motorola device. They’ve suited her well, and she’s gotten used to how they look and feel.

She just switched over to T-Mobile (of her own accord), and now she’s got the LG G3… and it doesn’t look or feel anything like MotoBlur did on her old phones. For some reasons, OEMs seem to think they need to load their own dialers, calendar apps, notification shades, and more on “their” devices. They feel that their brand has to have its own distinct look and feel. Of course I’m immune to this since I run stock-Android on all my devices. She, on the other hand, is at the mercy of OEMs.

Um, that's my stapler.

Um, that’s my stapler.

Generally I can load up the Google Now launcher on her phones, install the Google apps, and get things looking pretty familiar for her, but LG decided to “Q-ify” its device. Almost a third of the screen is occupied by two very non-standard quick launch/quick settings things. These distract her, and ultimately cause problems. She’s returned her phone twice now because the “screen was broken”. Put another way, she inadvertently turned her brightness down so low that you could hardly see the display — and with her eyes, she couldn’t see it at all. It was “broken”. Of course I could have “fixed it”, but then she’d have to ask me for help, and it’s so much easier to go to the local store. (Why they didn’t catch that, I have no idea.)

Hours upon hours…

… upon hours!

The first time around I spent a few hours (yes, hours, I kept track) getting her phone set up so it was “more familiar” for her. Then, weeks later, the “screen broke” and she had it replaced. I spent another few hours setting that phone up for her.

Most recently, however, LG pushed an update that no longer lets me “turn off” the Q-crap “additional quick menus” — or was able to successfully hide the options from me. Regardless, it’s miserable. LG literally made a phone that my mother-in-law cannot use unless I spend hours trying to make it as close to stock as possible, and after this update, I can’t get rid of two menus that occupy a good chunk of her notification shade.

Why. Can't. You. Just. Look. More. Like. Stock!?

Why. Can’t. You. Just. Look. More. Like. Stock!?

Path back to stock

Of course this is an edge case, and it doesn’t apply to everyone. It may, however, be an edge case with which LG has slit its own throat.

I’m not asking every OEM to abandon its own customizations. All I’m asking is, please, for all the people out there like my mother-in-law (and the son-in-laws that have to support them), please give us a path back to something that resembles stock!




Image credits: Office Space, distributed by Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation


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About The Author
Joe Levi
Joe graduated from Weber State University with two degrees in Information Systems and Technologies. He has carried mobile devices with him for more than a decade, including Apple's Newton, Microsoft's Handheld and Palm Sized PCs, and is Pocketnow's "Android Guy".By day you'll find Joe coding web pages, tweaking for SEO, and leveraging social media to spread the word. By night you'll probably find him writing technology and "prepping" articles, as well as shooting video.Read more about Joe Levi here.