Google tightens its grip on Android manufacturers

In today's Android roundup: Google wants all Android phones to include more of its services. Plus: Sony Xperia Z3 unboxed underwater, and reviews of the Samsung Galaxy Alpha

Google products and services have always been one of the most useful things about Android. But until now the company has not had particularly stringent requirements for how they are included in Android devices. Droid Life reports that that is about to change with a new contract Google has provided to Android manufacturers.

According to Droid Life:

A report out of The Information this morning suggests that Google’s revamped MADA (Mobile Application Distribution Agreement) for 2014 – the agreement that manufacturers like Samsung, HTC, or Lenovo sign in order to add Google’s suite of apps to their Android phones – has changed significantly, requiring more Google-iness than ever.

According to this report, Google is increasing the number of Google apps that must be pre-installed on a device by as many as 20, including placing them on the home screen with the Google Search bar at the top and a “Google” folder that houses many of their apps. If you bought an Android device in 2014, you have likely already experienced this setup.

The new MADA also reportedly requires manufacturers to implement “OK Google” as a hotword to wake the phone and complete a search, assuming the phone’s capabilities allow hotword detection.

More at Droid Life
Google MADA contract Android manufacturers

I don't blame Google for doing this, the company has needed to assert greater control over Android for a long time now, especially where its own services are concerned. And this contract seems to move Android manufacturers in that direction in a significant way. It may also benefit users by making it easier for them to find and access Google's products on their Android devices.

The article notes that "manufacturers aren't mad or happy" but I have a tough time believing that. I cannot see Samsung being happy about this at all as that company has always had a love/hate relationship with Google, and has made no secret about its desire to someday control its own mobile operating system via its Tizen effort.

Frankly, this new contract makes me wonder if Samsung will now accelerate its attempts to create its own mobile operating system and then someday dump Android altogether. It may be a bit early to ponder that but Samsung is not a company that likes having to tow somebody else's line at all.

We'll have to wait and see how this new contract shakes things up among Android manufacturers.

Sony Xperia Z3 unboxed underwater

Carphone Warehouse has unboxed the Sony Xperia Z3...underwater.

More at Carphone Warehouse at YouTubeHat tip: Android Authority
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