Skip the Google Edition, just give us the stock option

May 21, 2013

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As you know, Google took the stage at their I/O developer event last week and shocked the crowd and Android world by announcing the Samsung GALAXY S 4 Google Edition running stock Android 4.2.2 Jelly Bean. Unlocked, developer friendly, and available from the Play Store. Immediately many started wondering if the same was coming from HTC. Would you buy a Google Edition HTC One?

As soon as Google and Samsung announced the Galaxy S 4 GE on stage, rumors immediately started surfacing that HTC would be doing the same. However, we reached out to HTC ourselves and their PR confirmed they have no such plans. Without getting into details HTC basically stated they have "no plans for an HTC One Nexus or Google edition".

So why is this a rumor again? Well, because everyone loves a good rumor. That and the usually pretty accurate HTC fan and ROM developer LlabTooFeR is claiming the device is coming this summer. Tweeting multiple times about the subject and even stating "HTC One without Sense 5 on board" in one of his comments. He mentions this isn't official, nor does he have details or release dates, but that it's coming this summer.

So is this just a rumor to get the idea floating around again? Who knows. He goes as far as to call it a fact, but that it's not official information. So take this rumor with a major grain of salt, just like most. Google's GALAXY S 4 certainly is no Nexus coming in at $649, and we'd probably see the HTC One come at a similar price. Would a Google Edition HTC One have beats audio to let us enjoy those front speakers, or would it truly be bone stock? There's some aspects that make Sense better, but not many.


Here's what we want and have been waiting to arrive for years. The option. The option to be able to select HTC Sense, or stock Android on our device. Let us choose between TouchWiz and those impressive S-featured apps, or vanilla Android. Whether this be on start-up, in settings, or something else.

If Google and the manufacturers could manage that, then this would be a game changer. Google can't make this a requirement as the post in the timeline below explains because of Open Source guidelines, but we'd love the option. Take notice HTC, Samsung, LG and others. For now this HTC ONE GE is just a rumor of another expensive developer friendly smartphone that may, or may not ever see the light of day.

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  • Phone_Junkie

    It would be tits if every phone shipped with Vanilla Android and you could get Sense or TouchWiz on the Play Store or direct from the OEM if you had to have it (regardless of file size. Download via WiFi if needed). Hell, if you wanted Touchwiz on a HTC phone, knock yourself out. I’d stick with vanilla. I bet this would help with handsets being kept up to date in having the latest version of Android as well.

  • This doesn’t really make sense (heh) to be honest. Sense, TouchWiz et al are not simply launchers or – as they are so often mistakenly called – “skins” on top of Android OS. These are basically OEM custom ROMS and lots of the modifications can’t simply be “downloaded” after the fact. Making dual-boot systems really isn’t worth the headache for the vast majority of consumers.

    One possibility would be to offer pre-purchase customization to have *either* AOSP or OEM ROM installed on your future device – but that is exactly what the Google Edition of the S4 is about. Other than that, everyone who really wants stock firmware and is willing to put in a modicum of effort to read up on how to do it, can do it already.

    • Indeed. That’s why we said at start-up, or something else. Let us choose however possible. It’s a dream that won’t ever come true though.

      • Christopher Robert

        You can choose already. Its called rooting and ROMing your device.

      • well obviously.. lol

      • But that’s what I meant with “dual-boot”. You’d have to load a huge amount of bloat onto a device to enable the user to pick his ROM. Conceivably you could proceed to remove the unnecessary bits after that choice, but this opens a whole new can of worms: what about factory resets or if the user changes his mind about the feature set he desires? should the user really only have that choice *once*?

        Imagine a consumer who just purchased his first smartphone and upon first boot-up has to make a decision which ROM to keep and which to forfeit. “AOSP or HTC Sense (recommended)”…

        That is why I only see two (maybe two and a half) viable options: either offer the choice of firmware pre-purchase with the caveat that the choice is binding (the “Nexus Galaxy S4” model, basically); leave the bootloader unlocked (which it should be in any case, no exceptions!) and provide necessary source code thus enabling the informed and capable power user to pick his own ROM; or choose to use AOSP supplemented by a mere themed launcher and a few custom apps.

  • Sense shouldn’t be anything more than an installable launcher. If HTC wants to bundle it with their phones, fine, but make it easily replaceable/removable. If it’s really that great, then non-HTC users will want to download it from the Play Store.

  • Manufacturers always wants to sell their own thing. The good thing about this is that the user have the opportunity to choose his look and feel, way of working, but under the hood it’s the same OS. Because most users don’t mind about how it looks and if they are running the latest Android version or not. If it works and does what they want, it’s fine enough.

    If the Google Edition phones will be priced in a range around $649 than, I as an Android developer, will leave it as it is. Because the Nexus 4 is available from $299 in the Google Play Store, and (in my country) for around $600 outside the Play Store.