With the recent surge of app stores from carriers and content providers, it’s hard to get excited about the future of the Android Market. I look down the road and see a completely segregated Android experience, where devices on “Network X” can do things that “Network Y” cannot, and being forced to stick with that Carrier because of that limitation. It’s a sketchy road that I hope leads somewhere positive, though seems mostly negative at the moment. Fortunately, I am allowed to be wrong exactly once every month, and I am using that allowance early on with the Sprint iD pack.
The beginning of the Sprint private event at CTIA: Enterprise and Applications 2010 caused my stomache to turn, as it sounded like yet another app store. Fortunately, I was able to sit through the event, which only grew more and more positive, until I realized what this truly was. Sprint had decided that what their customers really wanted was a series of profile-like “app packs” that allowed the user to completely theme their device, and that theme would also include associated apps, ringtones, and widgets that completely occupy your home screens. A simple push of a button allows you to switch back and forth between a total of six installed “packs”. Here, take a look at the Keynote Speech.
Now, I was given the opportunity to play with the Samsung Transform and the Kyocera Zio, and while the devices seemed to offer no performance or speed decrease versus the “stock” launcher and home screen. The app packs offer a complete transformation of the home screen, but this transformation is only as good as the group making the app pack. For example, using the Where pack on the Transform, I noticed that the homescreen would not switch from portrait to landscape when the keyboard was open, and was not given an explanation as to why this happened. Granted, these devices and app packs are not here yet, so it may just be an unfinalized version, but it shows than an unskilled group making a pack could potentially be sloppy.
While this continues my fear that Carriers will continue this “restricted feature war” with the intention to encourage users to stay with them for fear of losing features, this is significantly less destructive than an app store or tethering restrictions. Plus, the array of packs due at launch are pretty cool. Keep an eye out for this very soon, Sprint users!