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Google Android, HTC, and custom user interfaces

Android SkinnableReports around the web are claiming that HTC is still on target for a Google Android based phone by Q4 of this year. It may however take some time for the carriers to get them out once they become available as they will likely want to add their own ugly branding blemishes to whatever cool interface the phones come with. HTC is said to have its own UI which will be different from the Google default UI. They did a great job on the HTC Touch Diamond interface, unfortunately reviews have stated that it is slow and only skin deep. With Android they have full access to the UI and the ability to make any changes they like.

Custom user created themes?

This got me thinking about customization; how open is Android going to be? Is it open to developers and carriers, or everyone, even the end users? If it’s really truly open one would think that anyone could develop a UI for it. Skinning Android could be very fun indeed and we could finally have truly personalized phones similar to the glory days of the Winamp mp3 player and the thousands of user created skins that arrived on an almost daily basis.

I would love to create custom skins/themes for Android and I’m sure a lot of others would too and Android is skinnable. Many people customize their operating systems, media players, browsers and even handheld gaming devices. Imagine the creativity we would see if Android was easily skinnable! We would see the typical OS clones and no doubt iPhone skins, but we would also see some truly original and creative designs. Will this be a possibility with Android? Most likely to some degree, but how easy will it be on a locked phone? We all know how most carriers like to make you feel like it’s not even your phone and fill it with their branding. I really hope Android is the OS that changes the industry. When we buy a phone it is ours, we should be able to do as we please with it.

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