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Google Reportedly Wants Samsung to Dial Back Heavy Android Modifications

by Brandon Russell | January 29, 2014January 29, 2014 1:00 pm PST

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Samsung’s heavily altered Android experience might be dialed back in future devices. According to sources speaking with Re/code, Google executives have been “dismayed” by the Korean company’s recent modifications—and things apparently came to a head when Samsung’s Magazine UX was put on display at CES. Instead of the simplicity of Android 4.4 KitKat, Samsung introduced a Flipboard/Windows Phone incubus, far from what Google’s envisions for the platform.

Following Samsung’s appearance at CES, Google reportedly initiated a conversation with the dominant Korean company about dialing back its infamous Android adjustments. Basically, Google wants Samsung’s idea of Android to match its own, with less flair and unnecessary features. More than any other current OEM, Samsung has adopted a “kitchen sink” approach to Android, adding layer upon layer of features and modifications to the platform in search of differentiation. But Google’s annoyance with Samsung’s changes actually goes deeper than just the look and feel.

Sources say Google is upset that many Samsung devices overseas don’t even come with Google’s services out of the box. As noted by Re/code, recent ABI research found that 25 percent of Android devices shipped in Q4 2013 came without Google’s suite of apps. Talks between the two companies are focused on Samsung either dumping or altering the Magazine UX in future devices, and even highlighting Google’s apps. It’s unclear what compromises Google was willing to make, but Re/code offers the suggestion that Samsung get dibs on a future Nexus device.

There’s been an acknowledged undercurrent within the industry that Samsung’s Android dominance could be leading up to something bigger: a complete break from Google’s suite of apps in favor of its own—think Amazon. Recently, Google has become more strict with manufacturers about including its apps—all of them, not just one or two—on devices, and it wants to keep Samsung in line. Samsung has built an empire upon Android, and Google wants to ensure it reaps those benefits.

The proposition of a Galaxy S5—perhaps with a look more akin to vanilla Android—just got more interesting.


Brandon Russell

Brandon Russell enjoys writing about technology and entertainment. When he's not watching Back to the Future, you can find him on a hike or watching...