Google bans skins and custom UIs from Android Wear

Moto 360 hands on
Google is sick and tired of seeing skins and UIs clutter up its beautiful Android operating system. After years of squabbling with the likes of Samsung, LG, and other OEMs that insist that they can make Android “better,” Google finally decided to take a stand. In an interview with Ars TechnicaGoogle engineering director David Burke stated that Android Wear, Android Auto, and Android TV will all be protected from OEMs that love to customize everything.

Google decided to sacrifice the fun of customization for the satisfaction of consistency and functionality. Essentially, every Android Wear smartwatch will look and work the same, as will any car with Android Auto and any TV with Android TV onboard, regardless of which company made it. This also means that every one of these devices will receive software updates from Google at the exact same time, eliminating the problem of fragmentation that has plagued Android smartphones and tablets since they first arrived on the scene.

It’s a smart move for Google and one that will certainly please fans of stock Android, but over eager OEMs like Samsung and LG might be a bit disappointed by Google’s decision to clamp down on custom features. Those in charge of Android’s new OSes did say that OEMs will be able to offer their own apps and services on Android Wear, Auto, and TV devices, but UIs and skins are strictly verboten. Based on our review of Android Wear from Google I/O, this seems like a good thing.

Those companies that don’t want to abide by Google’s new rules will have to build their own version of Android for wearables, TVs, and cars from the Android Open Source Project code, just like Samsung did when it made the Galaxy Gear smartwatch and Amazon did with Fire TV. Given the new restrictions, it’s hardly surprising that Samsung was pushing Tizen this year. Samsung will most likely continue to offer devices with either Tizen, Android, or Android Wear onboard in the future just to cover all its bases.

It’s unclear if Google will ever impose the same restrictions on regular Android smartphones and tablets, but the software giant seems to be heading toward a more consolidated, consistent version of Android.

Product Review

Google’s Pixel 3 is a hair away from pocket-sized perfection

Google’s Pixel 3 smartphone is the best Android phone you can buy. It doesn’t have the best looks or the best hardware, but you’ll be hard pressed to find better software and unique A.I. functionalities.
Wearables

Google's Wear OS update 'H' promises battery life improvements

Google has rebranded its Android Wear operating system to Wear OS. Removing the Android name may help people better understand Google-powered smartwatches, which also play nice with iOS devices. 
Product Review

Mediocre battery and a big notch slight Google's otherwise perfect Pixel phone

Google’s Pixel 3 XL has two big flaws: The gigantic notch on the front, and mediocre battery life. That being said, this is the best Android experience you can find in a smartphone today.
Mobile

Get your gaming on the go with this list of the 25 best Android games

The Google Play Store is loaded with both terrific and terrible gaming titles. We vetted the store to bring you some of the best Android games available, whether you're into puzzles, shooters, racing games, or something else.
Mobile

Leak shows a third, budget Google Pixel 3 with a Snapdragon 670, headphone jack

The Google Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL are considered to be two of the best Android smartphones, but it looks like Google could be prepping a third. A budget Pixel 3 device that boasts some of the best features of the other two has been leaked.
Mobile

Use multiple phone numbers on one device with Verizon’s ‘My Numbers’ app

For those who have separate phone numbers and devices for your work and personal lives, Verizon wants to help you get more organized. With its new "My Numbers" app, you can use up to four additional phone numbers on a single smartphone.
Emerging Tech

Microsoft’s friendly new A.I wants to figure out what you want — before you ask

Move over Siri and Alexa! Microsoft wants to build a new type of virtual assistant that wants to be your friend. Already making waves in Asia, could this be the future of A.I. BFFs?
Mobile

Need a quick battery boost? Try one of our favorite portable chargers

Battery life still tops the polls when it comes to smartphone concerns. If it’s bugging you, then maybe it’s time to snag yourself a portable charger. Here are our picks of the best portable chargers.
Mobile

Instagram tool accidentally exposes user passwords. Were you affected?

Instagram's Download Your Data tool accidentally exposed the passwords of a small number of users. Here is the explanation on what happened, and how to find out which Instagram accounts were compromised.
Mobile

New iPad Pro’s durability in question after it fails YouTuber’s bend test

The new iPad Pro models failed a bend test that was carried out by popular YouTuber JerryRigEverything. The result raises questions about the durability of the tablets, especially since customers are also reporting bending issues.
Mobile

How to use recovery mode to fix your Android phone or tablet

If you’re having a problem you can’t seem to resolve with your Android device, or maybe you want to update it or wipe the cache, recovery mode could be what you’re looking for. Here's how to use it.
Emerging Tech

Awesome Tech You Can’t Buy Yet: A.I. selfie drones, ‘invisible’ wireless chargers

Check out our roundup of the best new crowdfunding projects and product announcements that hit the web this week. You may not be able to buy this stuff yet, but it sure is fun to gawk!
Deals

Cyber Monday 2018: When it takes place and where to find the best deals

Cyber Monday is still a ways off, but it's never too early to start planning ahead. With so many different deals to choose from during one of the biggest shopping holidays of the year, going in with a little know-how makes all the…
Deals

All the best Target Black Friday deals for 2018

The mega-retailer opens its doors to the most competitive shoppers at 6 p.m. on Thursday, November 22, and signs indicate that the retailer means business this year. We've sifted through all of the deals, from consumer electronics to small…