Android, as great as it has become in Jellybean and Ice Cream Sandwich is great and something to boast about, but I feel there is still a lot more work to be done before I think it’s a solid awesome platform for everyone. Being an Android developer means that I know what I’m looking for and some things just are slightly annoying which wouldn’t be much of an issue for Google to fix.
1. Vector Assets
I would love to see vector assets in the next version of Android, as in full SVG compatibility. Why? Well, you can see for yourself when you’re trying to aim for, what how many resolutions does Android support now?
That is quite a bit, and it’s only going to get larger and larger with the release of more and more form factors targeting low-quality tiny electrics, to full 1080p TV, and good-looking non-fuzzy assets are the best way to do that. With SVG we’re also able to squish the size of the APK down by a factor of 3 in most cases (if you’re targeting ldpi, mdpi, hdpi and xhdpi). Yes, it’s a big shakeup, but it could and should be done to improve things.
Besides, the Android SDK could generate back-compatible APKs with bitmap based resources instead, and zip everything up in one upload to the Play Store.
2. Manufacturers: Here’s a new rule:
If you’re going to cut support for a device, open source all of the code to build an AOSP version (although, you can just bundle firmware that runs of chips as binary) as some people are not happy with leaving their trusted devices behind.
Why should they do this? Well, so people can actually get value out of their device and run an up-to-date version of Android like people should be (it’s darn annoying with people still on 2.3 downwards when developing apps!) Especially considering how not many of them are deciding to stick to the 18-month update agreement by Google. Or even just let Google handle updates managed by AOSP collaboration and manufacturers posting modifications for their hardware back into the main code?
3. Integrate the Theme Engine
Manufacturers, as much as they’ve been told with ICS that it’s not meant to be re-themed, they’re not really going to listen so why can’t we add in the T-Mobile Theme Engine? It’d mean consumers could effectively have nearly-stock Android without any rooting/hacking which a lot of them may be unsure of (especially when they’re on contracts).
It means also that Manufacturers can actually sell their own themes for devices which would be interesting and really means Android can be customizable as it should be.
4. Make the “cloud” part of “AOSP Andorid” and not “Google Android”
Why? Well, for developers and users it means choice. Choice between one service or another through a Android-based system. Otherwise, a developer has to specifically add Google Drive, Dropbox, Ubuntu One, Box.net, Amazon S3, FTP, Samsung Cloud,. etc etc. It’s really darn annoying trying to do this and shouldn’t be such a problem especially as we’ve now got the looks for Android.
It should be as simple as doing something like having a simple built-in Intent to handle it with an action of something like android.ACTION_PICK_CLOUD_FILE which would return a file cached locally for a developer to work with, but is prevented from having to use any of the actual cloud APIs, and can just save that file and Android will sync it back up to the right place.
And the best bit, is already much of this infrastructure is already there in the AccountManager, we just need another sync provider
5. Improve APIs we’d love to use, but they’re just plain annoying
Leading on from my last point, yes the AccoutManager is quite good, except it has a fundamental flaw. Let’s say on Twitter my user id is “22849” and my username is “kennydude”, but I change my username to “kennydudeisawesome”, we have two options:
- Use the Account number for the “name”, but then the user will think “What does that even mean?” if they look in the Accounts section
- Use the username, but we need to do a lot of extra un-needed work to make this work correctly
6. Google: Sort out your so called “Top Developers”!
Let’s be honest, some of the “Top Developers” really should be ashamed of having that status. Facebook is a terrible example, while the app is improving, it’s just terrible (and don’t start about Twitter).
There should be a way to apply to become a top developer, and only be allowed that status if their applications are actually of any quality.
Let me know what you guys want to see in the comments, or across the social networks we’re on!