In the market for an Android Wear smartwatch? You can base your decision on specs rather than software, because whether you buy a Samsung Gear Live, LG G Watch, or Motorola Moto 360, you’ll get the same user interface.

Ars Technica reports that Google is insisting device makers offer the same user interface on all Android Wear watches. There’s no support for third-party skins like the Samsung TouchWiz or HTC Sense user interfaces you often see loaded on top of Android phones and tablets.

gear live_05

The same goes for Android Auto and Android TV.

The idea is that Google’s new versions of Android should look the same no matter which device you buy — so if you have a few different TVs in the house from different TV makers, you won’t have to learn to navigate a different user interface for each one. Get into a rental car with Android Auto? It’ll have the same UI as your own car (assuming you’ve got Android Auto).

Google will also send out software updates itself instead of relying on equipment makers to do it.

Device makers can still load their own apps and services on their wearables, TVs, or in-car systems, but they can’t alter the user interface. That’s probably good news for consumers, since it’ll make devices a little more interchangeable. But it also means device makers will need to compete by offering better prices or hardware features such as high quality displays or longer battery life.

Of course, the move could also discourage some companies from offering Android Wear, Android TV, or Android Auto devices — anyone can grab Google’s open source code for Android and slap it on a phone or tablet. But companies will need to follow Google’s guidelines for these new product categories.

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3 replies on “Google: No OEM skins for Android Wear, Android Auto, or Android TV”

  1. Now they just need to do this with regular Android. If you don’t have the stock UI, you don’t get the Play Store or other Google goodies. OEMs can either get with the program or be stuck in AOSP town.

  2. I assume they will allow manufacturers to display distinctive looking “watch faces” for their default display since if and when companies like Rolex join the fray, they’ll want to stamp their own visual mark on it, even if the functional interface has to be the same.

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