The case against beige Android

Hi all,Yes, I'm being deliberately provocative here. I'm saying that HMD's treasured "pure" Android One is beige.

The case against beige Android

madbilly madbilly
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Hi all,
Yes, I'm being deliberately provocative here. I'm saying that HMD's treasured "pure" Android One is beige. Vanilla is too nice a word, because proper vanilla is in fact very tasty, worth savouring. I feel like pure, stock Android is boring. It's like a beige PC from the 90s - uninspiring and dull.
I and several others have said many times that we wish that HMD would do something more interesting with the Android they ship on their smartphones. Personally, I want the UX of my Nokia to feel like a Nokia, and frankly the current experience feels nothing like a Nokia. It's nice hardware, but the only exceptional and noteworthy thing about the software is how ordinary and uninspiring it is. Beige.
I know lots of people want "pure" Android, and for those people there are hundreds if not thousands of cheap smartphones running ~stock AOSP + Google apps, and for those that want to be purer than pure there are the Pixel phones. And Android One phones from other manufacturers. There is a huge amount of choice for people who like their software to be beige.
But I want my software to be blue. Nokia blue. With the Nokia Pure font, running the Z-launcher and Fastlane UI. I want MixRadio/XpressMusic. I want camera and imaging software like the old Lumias had (where's my Storyteller app and smart-cam burst-mode image fusion? Not to mention proper PureView oversampling and lossless zoom). I want a smartphone that uses all the abilities of Nokia OZO Audio, not just the ones HMD can be bothered to pay for. I want a proper beta labs where there is a conversation between the developers and the betalabbers. Heck I even want Ovi online services in place of my privacy-trashing Google services!
Blimey there is so much missing I could go on but I won't because I think you get my point and either agree or you don't. I want the phone to feel like a Nokia, otherwise I might as well buy a cheap Shenzhen-generic stock AOSP+GApps smartphone... not that I would do that, I would buy the most interesting smartphone I could find.
We're not alone in this feeling that basic Android is boring: https://thenextweb.com/opinion/2017/10/05/stock-android-is-no-longer-the-best-version-of-android/. Granted, that article is now old and doesn't consider Android One, but even if it was updated I doubt that the opinion of the author would change much.
So, let the flaming begin - I'm burn proof, btw ;)
Cheers :smiley:

Comments

  • singhnsk singhnsk
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    I'm on the same train as you, @madbilly. It is fair of HMD to let's say keep a part of the portfolio as Android One. I don't mind, and those who need the so-called purer experience should have an offering from Nokia. I always want that there should be something nice for everyone.
    But 100% of the portfolio on Android One is where it starts getting too much. I too want the Nokia blue to strive to make a Nokia experience. Google experience can be had on n number of devices, but there's nothing like Nokia.
    And when HMD promotes itself as the only European brand in the cell-phones business, it should mean Europe and Nokia from all the angles and not just a namesake. HMD needs to be less Google if it wants to be European because else it is all American and Chinese with nothing European other than the brand.
    I look at Xiaomi and feel that HMD's Nokia should have been something like that. While many would hate what MIUI is, let's not forget that MIUI happened first and Xiaomi's phones came later. Xiaomi has built an experience which its users and also users across the globe liked. Now, not everybody has to love it, and I welcome the choice of those who hate it (I have mixed opinion about it). On top of that, Xiaomi became the first company to offer the new Android One phones. They nailed the market by also bringing those users under its brand umbrella, who hate the MIUI and are a fan of that pure Google Android. There are still people who search for steps to install MIUI on Nokia, so, there's a demand of that outside the Xiaomi world too.

    Can HMD not make even one device for the fans which have followed Nokia through the good and bad? And also to show the world what Nokia stood for, what Nokia achived, why Nokia was loved, why Nokia became the market leader. Come on, this is a million-dollar company, and it can try selling one such device where there is true Nokia and then decide from the sales, satisfaction, reviews, experiences to decide what the users like more - the Google apps which are on every other phone or something that makes Nokia's phones special.

    For companies that do not take feedback and change, there is, unfortunately, only one destination. Without speaking it, I want to mention Samsung and Asus here. Samsung's TouchWiz over-time became bloated and super slow, but Samsung eventually realized that users are no longer happy with that, and it was axed for the new OneUI. Asus similarly axed the super bulky and laggy ZenUI to stick with a very lightweight version which is closer to stock but does not surrender entirely to Android One.

    The linked article should be an eye-opener for stock-Android fanatics. I will always vote for one of the skinned Android versions, because they have everything that Android has plus more! There's nothing to miss out! Skins add the vision of the companies about how they plan to make the experience of their customers better. I agree with HMD that security updates are important (sure nothing wrong in having more up-to-date protection) but it should not be an excuse to sell an Android which does not consider its customer as special.
  • madbilly madbilly
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    You put the case for a Nokia UX on Android much better than I did, thanks :smiley:
    Choice is important. I know my post was quite dismissive of people who want stock Android and you're right that if people want a Nokia with stock Android then there should be some models for them. My strong feeling though is that these people already have a lot of options to choose from whereas those of us that want an enhanced and improved Android experience from a Nokia phone have no choices - we have to look elsewhere to HMD's competitors (which, honestly, is what I might end up doing when the time comes).
    Based on what you said about HMD's interest in China being dependent on making a decent China-specific version of OS there might be some hope that HMD will make a global version of one of these phones... but I still doubt if they will really make it feel like a Nokia as I have the sense that HMD see value only in the brand and nothing else from the old company.
    Anyway, where are the flamers?! I suppose I should have posted this in the 8.1 category! :D
    Cheers :smiley:
  • jdi000 jdi000
    ✭✭✭  /  edited September 12
    Interesting Points for discussion.

    Well, I for one prefer the stock android.  The Samsung and other UI's are a huge turn off.  There are several points to also discuss:

    1. Android has changed over the years and the initial versions , stock was much better performer and offered more functionality.  Part of the reason of slow updates and lack of all features was bc the phone makers could not keep up with their overlay fast enough or update it.

    2. It takes a lot of resources to build and maintain UI's.  How can this be funded and allow a company to grow?  Apple does it all but what are the costs of this, these larger companies make money in other areas (Apple Store apps music , movies, etc) so it can afford to develop its own OS.

    3. Google needs to be challenged to up its game with android, but they might have divided interest with their other operating systems (Chrome os, and Fuchia) not sure but their focus on Android seems to be different, maybe the  anti trust lawsuits have caused some of this also.


    One article worth reading is

    Regards
    Jason

  • madbilly madbilly
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    jdi000 thanks for joining the discussion!
    You're right that some UIs seem to be more demanding on resources, but this rule isn't true for all. And resource use isn't the only consideration, otherwise there wouldn't be so many different and interesting launchers available on the play store - I'm sure that many of them use more battery than the stock launcher.
    Making a UI doesn't need huge resources. Look at Sailfish OS, Firefox OS and Ubuntu Touch - all the companies that created these have much much less revenue than HMD does. Look at all the Linux-on-phone projects which are run by volunteers which have great UIs. Look at all the Linux desktop environments which are created by volunteers. HMD can easily make a good UX to include on their phones and we can help them with it, through the beta labs programme :smiley:
    Google certainly needs more competition. Their development of Android is slow and incremental - MS do more with Windows 10 than Google do with Android. The USA hitting Huawei may be the best thing that happens to the smartphone industry as Huawei may bring a competing OS/app ecosystem to the market, which will be good for everyone.
    Google's challenge with Android is the same as with Chrome and Chrome OS - to make it look like they are improving it to protest user privacy whilst still trying to make even more money by gathering user data for selling their ads. Fuschia is part of that strategy, and it will also help their OEM partners because people will no longer be able to hassle them about releasing the Linux source code for each Android device. It will be the death of custom ROMs, we'll end up with even less choice than we already have.
    Those El Reg articles are good, thanks for reminding me about them. There are many more like that. I'm not sure they're very relevant to the current situation though. It's clear that the most successful Android manufacturers have their own UXes, they don't use the beige Android one. HMD only need to make one UX, there's no need to make multiple ones like the old Nokia did (and the companies are completely different - one a 3 year old startup and the other a >100 years old corporation upon which the livelihoods of >100000 people directly depended). The fact that the most successful brands have their own UXes surely indicates that this is something worth doing - it's Android+more, not less. Android in technicolour, not beige.
    And as I said, and @singhnsk improved upon, there are already many options for people who want beige and HMD can easily provide some beige models for these people as it won't really require any additional resources. HMD won't forget you've got money to spend ;)
    Cheers :)
  • madbilly madbilly
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    After reading that El Reg article again I read the blog it got a lot of material from: https://mobilesoftware.tumblr.com/ some very interesting commentary there.
    Note that when I say want a UI which feels like a Nokia, I don't mean building an entire UX layer on top of Android (which really would be replacing Android!) I just mean what is normally called a skin. to start all we really need is a launcher which combines the best of Z/Fastlane/Swipe, using Nokia Pure as the system font, blue as the system theme and adding additional configuration options and features as @singhnsk, @Kartik Gada and others have suggested so well elsewhere.
    Cheers :)
  • madbilly madbilly
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    Well, I think we might as well give up trying to convince HMD about this one, their own market research seems to have convinced them otherwise:
    He [@pekka rantala] says the company is laser-focussed on what consumers want. For example, it found the two pain points many smartphone customers had were a sluggish user interface because of a customised version of Android and the battery running out. He says HMD has focussed on getting these aspects right...
    This might just be HMD saying this is what their market research says in order to give reason to them shipping their phones with beige Android. Or it could be true.
    Either way, as I've suggested before, I think we'll have to wait for quite a while to see any change.
    Cheers :)
  • Viccky Viccky
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    madbilly said:
    Well, I think we might as well give up trying to convince HMD about this one, their own market research seems to have convinced them otherwise:
    He [@pekka rantala] says the company is laser-focussed on what consumers want. For example, it found the two pain points many smartphone customers had were a sluggish user interface because of a customised version of Android and the battery running out. He says HMD has focussed on getting these aspects right...
    This might just be HMD saying this is what their market research says in order to give reason to them shipping their phones with beige Android. Or it could be true.
    Either way, as I've suggested before, I think we'll have to wait for quite a while to see any change.
    Cheers :)
    Firstly, @madbilly thanks for writing this discussion. It reflects the request of every Nokia Fan out there. :-)

    Secondly, I still dont understand that who conducts these researches and who participates in it.

    I think HMD research team consider the comment of a person who has never used a Nokia phone but it would not consider any suggestion from loyal users of Nokia. 
    If this is the case then what is the purpose of Nokia community? Ain't people from community helping HMD research team? 🙁 (wait they dont take community seriously).

    There is lot more things of HMD that turns me off. I have made my mind that I wont buy any of HMD smartphones until their phones reflect true Nokia Philosophy.
    I would only buy Nokia feature phones for now.
  • Thanuj Thanuj
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    I agree with Both @madbilly and @singhnsk. Yes. Stock android is boring and dull and uninspiring. I don't care about performance anymore because Chipsets from Qualcomm and Mediatek are getting so good and are very powerful(Snapdragon 855 can run an windows ARM pc) and they will be able to run Custom UX properly, Provided that the manufacturer optimizes the software.

    Let's take MIUI for example, MIUI is built on AOSP. But they offer all the features that newer versions of "Stock" and port it over to older versions on Android. Older phones run on an older version of Android 6.0, 7.1 etc but still have the latest features of Stock android. Likewise if  Nokia had done something similar, It would have been much more nicer. I don't hate the Stock Android experience, It follows the "It just works mantra".

    People who are new to smartphone will appreciate Stock android and how easy it is to use, But majority of are switching from Other smartphones and we already know android works, It will definitely bore someone who came from a Samsung, MI or say older versions of Android. 
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