Are OEM Android interfaces bloated and filled with junk?

Today in Open Source: Stock Android or an OEM version with bloatware? Plus: Top Android 4.3 features, and Ubuntu versus Xubuntu

Android OEM Bloat and Clutter

Ars Technica has a very interesting article that compares stock Android with the OEM versions available from various Android hardware companies. Is it worth choosing the OEM version versus just using stock Android? Ars comes down on the side of stock Android, and I have to agree with them.

Here at Ars, we prefer the stock version of Android on a Google-backed handset like the Nexus 4 and Google Play editions. Even if they're not chock full of perks and applications, they'll receive the most timely updates from Android headquarters, and their interfaces are mostly free of the cruft you get from the OEMs. For many consumers, it might not matter when Google chooses to update the phone, but for us, we like to know that Google is pushing through the software updates without any setbacks.

In the end, choosing an OEM-branded version of Android means that you're a prisoner of that manufacturer's timeline—an especially unfortunate situation when that manufacturer decides to stop supporting software updates altogether. We've said it time and time again—in the end, it's really your experience that will determine which interface suits you best. So as far as the future of Android goes, it's not just in Google's hands.

More at Ars Technica

The biggest problems with OEM versions of Android seem to be bloatware and a lack of timely updates. You buy the phone or tablet, and then it takes forever to get your version of Android updates to the most current one after Google releases an update. In some cases, you might not get an update all (depending on who made your device).

This is where Apple has a huge advantage over Android. When Apple releases an update to iOS, it's quite simple and fast for iPhone, iPad or iPod users to upgrade to it. This really underscores that buying an Android device that runs stock Android is simple common sense. Why wait forever to get an update?

The other problem is bloatware. Yes, some OEM features are no doubt cool. But do you really need them? How much of your Android device's battery life is going to be drained by unnecessary features? How much storage space are they going to take up? And how much are they going to slow down your device as you use it?

Right now I'm using an iPhone that I've had for a while. I've considered switching to Android though (given how awful iOS 7 looks) and I've already decided that if I switch, I'll be running stock Android and not an OEM version. Most likely I'll go with one of Google's Nexus products if I make the jump.

What's your take on this? Are you running an OEM version or do you prefer stock Android? Tell me in the comments.

Top Android 4.3 Features

I mentioned the release of Android 4.3 yesterday, and today SJVN has a look at what he considers the top five features in Android 4.3.

Most people won't find a new version of Android to be as sexy as the latest Nexus 7 tablet, nor will they find it as entertaining as Google's answer to Apple TV, the Chromecast, but it will be bringing many new, strong features for both developers and end-users. Here's my list of the best of them.

1. Restricted Profiles

2. OpenGL ES 3.0

3. Bluetooth Smart Ready Support

4. Notification Access

5. Better Digital Rights Management

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