Funny how “legacy design” is an issue for a 5 year old platform. Things just move that quickly these days.
Miner told me the grand vision for Android: it would be a solid foundation for mobile phones, based on Linux, that would work with many types of hardware, and it would be fully customizable. It would provide a “basic user interface,” he said, that “could be changed by the carriers and manufacturers to fit their goals.” The hardest part of building advanced mobile phones, he reasoned, was writing the lower-level software that the operating system uses to communicate with the hardware, including the radio baseband and audio/video controllers, so Android’s goal was to solve those tough engineering problems really well. The carriers and the manufacturers would then be freed up to focus on differentiating the experience at a higher level, at the user interface and experience level.
In my eyes, the clarity of the original vision is amazing, and makes a lot of sense. In hindsight you might say “of course these
idiots people (the phone companies) don’t know what they are doing” – but back then, the phone companies were the ones who made all the phones and software.
The resulting Android platform and the corresponding platform fragmentation are not really fixable by now. Actually, if you look at Amazon and their Kindle Fire branch of Android, it’s not very revolutionary at all – they are working along the original idea of Android. Curious to see if some phone companies will step up their game in terms of a UI layer (I doubt it) or faster adoption of core Android updates (1% on ICS by now?).
The latter would be welcome, because i don’t think you can suggest any Android phone to anyone, if it’s not a Nexus device. Sorry, my Googler friends. You can’t.