Why I can't stand it when skins, themes and ringtones are pretending to be apps [Android Market]


When people ask me why I'm not using an Android device I usually say that as a former Windows Mobile user, there are just too many things about Android that remind me of that old annoying OS. In some aspects, Android seems like an improved version of Windows Mobile. Well, really, totally, widely improved, that is… but still very much alike.

One of the things (we) Windows Mobile users learned (in the hard way) is that customization and flexibility do have their price – you end up wasting hours on trying to improve your phone, personalizing everything, downloading skins, themes, ringtones, widgets (remember how we called them "Today plug-ins"), anything goes – but then you end up with one hell of an inconsistent system, full of duplications (multiple media players, files explorers, calendar widgets, etc.), messy, and most importantly – full of crap.

When I just switched to the iPhone, I was shocked by how "close" that environment is, at first I didn't like it, but the benefit of it was that everything looks the same, works well, and most important: looks AMAZING. A-M-A-Z-I-N-G. This is definitely not the case with Android interface (not to mention the horrible customizations companies like Samsung and Motorola are creating, ruining Google's work, and lowering the overall level of the UI which is not very high anyhow…).


Skins, Themes, Alterative Homescreens, (even alternative Android OS!). Every Android user knows what I'm talking about, and every Android user knows it's not easy to find widgets, alternative shells, keyboards, skins that are all combining nicely together. In most cases the end result is simply poor and you don't even know why.

The worst part of it is that those skins, themes, homescreens, widgets, are all over the Android Market, hiding what's more important: the real apps.  

Android Market is a mess and I'm not talking about the increasing number of malware and spam (Close to 10% of Android Apps festering pits of spyware, worms and premium SMS senders, getting worse), I'm sure Google will find a way to fix that part – I'm talking, once again, about all of those useless "things" that are not really apps but are called apps; skins, themes, widgets and ringtones… It's bad enough that around one third of the apps in Android Market are defined as "low quality apps" (see chart below) – the remaining ones include "things" that are not really apps!



Now, I know where this is going. Last time I wrote bad things about Android I got Android fans all over me (here, at MobilitySite, and in some Android forums…), I was banned, made illegal, my wife almost left me, my 2 years old kid stopped playing Transformers with me…  Believe me – I'm trying! I really am. I can't… just can't stop myself…

I did a small research and found the following to prove my point:

Android market has over 25,000 apps (out of almost 250,000) categorized as "personalization" (meaning: hacks, tweaks, skins, themes, widgets, ringtones, etc.).


(More Android Market Statistics in here)

Now, this is where it gets interesting: when I searched for the term "ringtones" – I got around 30,000 search results, most of them were ringtones packs, labeled as… "entertainment" or as "Music & Audio" and not under "Personalization"… hmm…

Looking for the term "theme" gave me over 13,000 apps, around 2,000 apps carry the name "Skin", I figured they are all included in the "Personalization" section too but guess what? Many of them actually belong to other sections (which are probably relevant to the original apps those skins belong to… ).

For example: Handcent SMS Skin(Summertime) is a skin for the favorite SMS replacement, but the "skin" app is not categorized as "personalization" app but instead it's under "Communication" (as many other similar skins and themes), PlayerPro Wmp Skin is categorized as "Music and Audio" even though it's just a simple skin… Open Home Skin - Windows 7 is labeled as "Entertainment", and so on.

What's going on here? Skins, themes, ringtones, all pretending to be apps… How disturbing!

Can it be that over 70,000 "so called apps" are actually "personalization" tweaks?

What a crappy store, everything is a mess, can't find stuff you really look for, seems like the shopkeeper is gone, everything is out of place – disaster.


So you are asking why I'm not using Android?

Because it's not as good as iPhone.

It's barely as close to being a fun experience like using Windows Phone 7. Sorry.

It's powerful, robust, you can do amazing things with it, multi-task in the best possible way, it has a lot of bugs [but that's not an issue for a former developer like myself (bugs are the developer's best friends)], it's dynamic, it progresses fast, but it lacks a sexy UI, and even though Google's work is good, the additions are soooo bad, the apps suck, too many of them look like students first year's work, test apps, and the store is a mess.

I'm done wasting my time searching for quality. Did that 4-5 years ago looking for Windows Mobile add-ins, alternative shells, Today plug-ins and other crappy freeware. I spent hours downloading apps (they where not called apps back then) just to run them once or twice and shift-delete. I'm over that. I am looking for a better shopping experience. I want quality to find me. 

But don't worry - iOS has its' downsides too. It's annoyingly closed. You want to upload a file from your local files system through a web app – you cannot (why is that? no one knows…), you want to change something in the look & feel (even the simplest one) – you probably cannot – that's annoying. On the other hand - my 3 years old iPhone still looks better to my eyes than most of the Android devices I get to use (and I get a lot of them)… and it's much easier to find good apps or quality games. Period.

Terms you may have been looking for:

Android Market, How many good apps in Market? Free apps, Personalization apps for Android, Skins, Themes, Widgets, AppStore, Android Apps


Yosh said…
Why I use Android:

Widgets, Tethering

IOS Homescreen and notifications blow chunks.

4.3" screen blows away iphone
Sunch said…
Why I use Android:

Free apps, Multitask, Tethering

Why I suffer from Android:

Battery life, bugs...
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