Google’s chief of Android and Chrome took the stage at ATD’s D11 where he announced a Google edition of the HTC One that will run stock Android instead of Sense and will go on sale in the US via the Play Store on June 26 for $599. Earlier this month, at its Google I/O event for developers, Google announced a similar version of the Galaxy S4 stripping off Samsung’s TouchWiz UI. Both these devices will receive updates directly from Google rather than users being left at the mercy of vendors. The move to bring stock Android to more smartphones, especially the flagship ones, has prompted questions around the future of Google’s Nexus devices, which essentially were sold to provide the “pure” Google experience. Also Read - Sundar Pichai: 5 interesting facts about Google CEO you never heard before
Pichai addressed some of those concerns while constantly reminding everyone that Android is completely open and its hardware vendors are free to customize it as they please. However, one of the goals of the Android team is to provide a consistent user experience (which ironically is the thing Apple has been championing since 2007) and ensure that users get the most value out of Android. He mentioned that Google was doing this in collaboration with its hardware partners – HTC and Samsung – in this case. Also Read - Google workers ask Alphabet CEO to stop protecting harassers
While the idea of having the top two flagship Android phones like the One and the Galaxy S4 running stock Android is a big deal, I don’t believe it will change much for the two companies. Google would sell it unsubsidized (the Galaxy S4 is more expensive at $649) in markets where majority of people buy smartphones heavily subsidized by carriers and usually come with a two-year lock-in period. Google does not have a precedence of launching such products immediately in countries where carriers don’t subsidize products. Instead, these are usually introduced when the product is about to reach its end of life or when the next version is around the corner. Also Read - UP Police drops Google's Sundar Pichai's name from FIR related to defaming PM Modi video
Pichai also insists that these announcements won’t have any impact on Google’s Nexus program either. “The goal with Nexus was to push forward hardware as well. That will continue,” he said.