Android P could be another Honeycomb, but in a good way.
Sometimes playing "what if?" can be fun, especially when there’s a reasoning to whatever thing you’ve put together inside your head. I’ve had this half-crazy idea that Android P could be a release designed for big screen devices like convertibles, tablets, and Chromebooks. And as off-the-wall as that sounds, it wouldn’t be the first time.
Android doesn’t need a redesign, it needs tobe fixed for tablets and other big-screen devices.
Android Nougat saw a sizable change in features and design, but it’s become obvious that Google is happy with the behavior and layout of Android’s core interface. It’s a good base layer, too. Companies like Samsung are free to alter the interface (within limits) and still have access to Google’s services and cloud platform as a native Android device, but the design still works if an OEM decides not to change things up. That changes when you put Android on something with a bigger display.
The Pixelbook makes it clear that Chromebooks are now a mobile device akin to a tablet, Android will be a significant part of the interface and app platform going forward, and that Google saw they needed to provide the halo device for developers big and small to use if things are to get better on a big screen. Google as a services company only wants you on the internet and your eyeballs on their products, but Google as a mobile company has their own vision of how the future will be when it comes to the devices we use and how we will use them.
There is no longer any doubt that Google plans to do something with a new mobile operating system. That doesn’t mean Android is going anywhere; Android isn’t really the operating system as much as it is the application layer. There are a lot of people, myself included, who think Google plans to replace the core system that runs Android as we know it with something new that’s easier to develop for and easier for hardware vendors to implement. Fuchsia isn’t going to replace Android or Chrome, nor is it going to unify them. It’s going to be the engine that powers them.
Say hello to my little blue friend
Set your wayback machines for 2011 and witness the, um, masterpiece that was Android Honeycomb on the Motorola Xoom.
OK, so Honeycomb was a mess and nobody ever wants to hear me say its name again. But what Honeycomb was is important here — a version of Android that was designed to help put the existing features onto a big screen in a better way. We may not have wanted a Honeycomb, but Android needed a Honeycomb. And now it needs another one.
That part of "Android" that may change with Fuchsia is the part that works the best, so there is plenty of work to do.
The low level "stuff", whether that means Chrome for Chromebooks and convertibles or Android proper for tablets and televisions, just works. In fact, it just works so well that the next big thing we expect to see from Fuschia has some big shoes to fill here. It’s the interface and feature set that sucks on a big screen. We need some new APIs and tools that will let developers take advantage of all that real estate and some incentive for them to do it. Android P could be part of it, just like Android Honeycomb was.
It’s all not as crazy as it sounds, and now I really hope it plays out this way.
February 2, 2018 at 08:03AM