Freedom, no other mobile operating system gives you more than Android. The freedom to choose which carrier you want, the freedom to choose what brand you want, the freedom to choose which model of phone or tablet you want. What size display, storage, build material, front speakers, rear speakers, expandable storage, swappable batteries, NFC, camera pixels, no other platform comes close to what Android can offer. Yet with all of these options to pick and choose from, once you buy it, you stop making it your own. Android phones have now surpassed the number of mobile devices I see everyday. Regardless of what the percentage of marketshare says, iPhones were always in abundance wherever I go. Those days are gone. Now it’s Samsung and LG phones here, HTC and Motorola phones there.
Despite the ever growing number of Android devices in the world, I have observed a rather sad truth. They all look the same. Everyone I know who owns a Galaxy S device has it set up the same way that it came. Same with Moto, HTC and LG. Nobody has taken the time to continue making choices. To choose a form and function that best suits you. Now many of you who are reading this might think this is absurd, but ask yourself this how many of your nontech friends with Android devices use custom launchers? Of all the people I know personally, I am the only one that uses a home replacement launcher. Everyone uses the stock launcher. They may add a few apps to the homescreen, but many people I know still have the stock widgets that shipped with their device on the homescreen. I notice this whenever I get a glimpse of someone else’s phone. It’s always stock and in many cases the same wallpaper, the easiest of all customization. A co-worker of mine who purchased a GS4 last year wasn’t even aware that widgets can be bought from the Play Store. He was under the impression that the widgets you got with the phone were all you get.
Now obviously this doesn’t apply to many of the readers out there, but it begs the question as to why this is happening. Why are people content with the stock experience? Several months ago I decided to run stock on my HTC One M7. At the time it was running Sense 5.5. I jokingly asked my followers on G+ how long I would last before going back to Nova Launcher. Some guessed a day or maybe a week. I lasted a month. I didn’t have anything against Sense, in fact I think it’s the best overlay available, but I needed to change and be unique. below are some pictures of my phone. I’m far from a customizing guru, but right now I love the look and feel of my phone.
Stock Sense 6.0
My Current Theme
Nothing I have done to my phone is extraordinary. In fact, it can be done in under 10 minutes, but that’s the beauty. Home replacement launchers aren’t difficult applications, the problem is that the general public doesn’t know they exist. I blame iOS for this. For many, iOS was the first platform that many Android users started with. Since Apple doesn’t allow customization, their is an entire app category that has gone undiscovered by former iOS users in the Google Play Store. They just don’t know that it exists.
Many of you know that I recently sent in my M7 to get the camera repaired. My loaner phone was this Nokia Lumia 900. Now it would be unfair for me to take swipes at a 2 year old device running WP7.8, but I will say that Windows Phone suffers the same problems as the iPhone, just not as much. I do plan on doing a comparison video between Windows Phone and Android, and one of my chief complaints with WP is their half baked customization options. While using the 900, I yearned to do more with it. More than just add live tiles and change the colors. WP8.1 makes some improvements, yet they pale in comparison with what an Android phone running Gingerbread was capable.
The blame really goes to Google. For all their advertising prowess they still fail to demonstrate the full potential of their own operating system. It would be nice to see a commercial featuring a Nexus 5 or 7 using a third party launcher or user changing the icons. In my opinion, customization is the greatest feature of Android, yet it’s potential is wasted on a unknowing public.