Android 5.0 Predictions

Before the late 2012 Nexus devices were announced, I wrote my wish list for Android 4.2. Since then, Google released Google Play Music to the UK Play Store. They also released the Nexus 4 and Android 4.2 and, although the update didn’t include much on my wish list, it included some features I never thought of, which made it a great update.

I think it is time for me to make my predictions of what we will see in the next version of Android. I will try to keep this short, but there are no promises. First of all, let’s start off with the most obvious prediction. Android 5.0 will be named Key Lime Pie. This is the first desert, if not the only desert, that  many people can think of that begins with K.

New Look

Android looks fine as it is. It is clean and looks futuristic. However, it still doesn’t look perfect. The Messaging widget looks like it was designed for Android 3.0 Honeycomb. Besides that, there are certain aspects of the user interface that make the phone look more like a robot. I know that’s what they call it; “Android”, but in my opinion, HTC Sense and MIUI just look more user friendly.

I’m expecting Android to get a look similar to Google’s iOS apps. They have the user-friendly look that you see on the iPhone, combined with Google’s style of clean minimalism. However, I would also like to see more colours for Android apps. That way, apps like Twitter could start following the Holo design guidelines while keeping their signature colours.

With the new look, I would also like apps to control the background colour of the notification bar and, for Nexus devices, the button bar. At the moment, an app might hide those bars to play a video in full screen. However, there’s not much else. I would also like those bars to be transparent when I’m on the homescreen, like what you get with Motorola’s newer devices, so I can see the whole wallpaper.

Changes to Core Apps

The default launcher in Android is somewhat limited when it comes to customisation. It allows you to add widgets and move icons around, but there are no homescreen transitions or touch gestures. I like CyanogenMod for having Trebuchet Launcher, which can be customised in the Launcher section of the Settings app. Trebuchet is still quite limited, but great features are being added to it.

The Google Maps app on Android should get some updates. After Google released their Maps application for iOS, even they admitted that it was better than the Android app. Google seem to be showing more love to iOS overall, and although I think they should carry on developing iOS software, it makes more sense for them to focus on their own mobile platform than on their competition.

Google Play Music has plenty of room for improvement. There is nothing wrong with the user interface of the app, but it certainly isn’t anything special. Besides that, the ugly blue background with the weird looking texture to it has to go. With CyanogenMod, there is a music app called Apollo with a simple white background. I would prefer a black background, but Apollo looks way better than Google’s music app.

Google Chrome also has room for improvement. It has a beautiful user interface and some great features, but the actual browser has bugs that I haven’t seen in any other browser. I notice a lot of these bugs on my own blog, mostly with how images are displayed. From what I can tell, this is a problem with how I code images in my blog posts. However, I never see these problems in other mobile browsers.

Better Updates

One of the biggest problems with Android is fragmented updates. When Google releases a new version of Android, nearly all Android users have to wait at least three months to get the update. This is because phone manufacturers put their own overlays on top of Android, and they have to update their overlays to be fully compatible with newer Android releases.

In most cases, carriers also test updates before pushing them out to their customers. Because of the money the carriers make when the users buy new phones from them, they are in no real hurry to release software updates to their customers, as new phones will already have the updated software. Even Galaxy Nexus LTE users in America have been forced to wait for the Android 4.1 Jelly Bean update.

To fix this problem, Google could add a new space at the system level of the phone for manufacturer overlays. That way, Google could push software updates to Android phones directly. Phone manufacturers could update their Android overlays on their own time, and users could even disable the overlays if they don’t like them.

I know there are things that I missed in this blog post, and Google will probably end up making completely different changes to Android in their next release. Please let me know what you would like to see in future Android releases by commenting below.

Sunday 6th January 2013 - Leave a comment

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