If Google can’t make Android anymore, maybe it should be left to Samsung

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A bit controversial, but hear me out. Android is one of Google’s most valuable products. It powers billions of devices all over the world. Through Android, other Google services like Search, Gmail, YouTube, Maps, etc. have access to an unparalleled user base. This is how you transferred your user acquisition cost to you, the user. You buy an Android phone and use its services. She just laughs her way to the bank with all of her ad revenue and subscriptions.

Google spends great resources to update Android every year. In recent years, we’ve seen the company improve the user interface, focus on improving privacy and security as well as provide features that make our lives easier. Android will always be an ongoing project because there is always room for improvement.

With that being said, it’s also true that Google has an advantage with Android. It has no real competitor other than iOS. This is the duopoly ruling the mobile landscape right now. Neither of them threatens the other and both exist in their own domain. All other operating systems have been overpowered.

Does this give Google reason to feel complacent? No competitor chases after it, after all. Android is the only option for companies that want to make a smartphone that doesn’t happen to be Apple. The ecosystem and developer support is so strong that trying to push a new OS against Android is simply an impossible task.

This laxity was manifested in more than one way. Stock Android is devoid of many useful apps and features created by third-party Android OEMs. Even the interface improvements that Google offers each year tend to be overshadowed by the custom skins that nearly all OEMs put on their devices.

Stock Android has also become a relic of the past. The original manufacturers who chose to ship devices with a non-customized version of Android are gone. Google’s Pixel smartphones are nothing more than a rounding error in global smartphone shipping numbers. It is clear that OEM software customizations are becoming a major attraction for consumers.

This is something Samsung excelled at. The custom Android skin, One UI as it is now called, has gone through a massive process of improvement over the years. Still the kind of features it offers now is unparalleled. Samsung has also been very effective in creating native apps that extend the capabilities of their Galaxy devices.

It is clear that Samsung has taken the lead in promoting the cause of Android, perhaps even more so than Google itself. Then again, Samsung happens to be the largest global seller of Android devices. It may depend on Google for the operating system but there is no doubt that it is Google that needs Samsung and not the other way around.

You often feel like Google’s light bulb goes off when you see Samsung creating a feature that Android should have had. Then don’t waste time copying this feature. Here is another example, and in the timeless words of DJ Khaled, another example.

Let’s not forget that many features of Android 12 were copied from One UI and even from Samsung’s old TouchWiz UI!. Samsung’s One UI features are also being copied for Android 13. Today, Google has gone ahead and copied Samsung’s Smart Switch app.

It’s as if Google is sitting on an exam and looking over the shoulder of a smart kid — that’s Samsung in this scenario — hoping to copy his work. Where Google was supposed to be on top, it’s Samsung that influences some of the major feature additions to Android.

Is it time for Google to accept the inevitable and leave it all to Samsung? The two companies are close partners. They have collaborated on new software trials for foldable smartphones. Let’s not forget, it was Samsung that made Wear OS relevant again. Google’s wearable operating system was in a state of disinfection before Samsung removed it.

Perhaps Google needs to show more impartiality when it comes to the right Android system. Wear OS-like arrangement for Android may not be welcomed by other OEM partners. This does not mean that close cooperation will not benefit everyone.

Samsung clearly has some great ideas on how to improve Android functionality. All Google needs to do is accept it.

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