My proposal, then, is for the manufacturers to meet us halfway and stop baking their modifications into the system. If you want to include custom widgets, make them standalone apps. If you think your added home screens and special navigation systems are super-duper, turn them into separate launcher/home screen replacement programs. Preinstall this stuff on the phones if you must, but stop integrating it into the damned OS.
Aside from simplifying the Android upgrade process -- new versions of the stock OS could be rolled out far more efficiently, with the widgets and launchers requiring only basic compatibility updates like any other normal Android apps -- this switch would embrace the choice-oriented nature of Android so many users value. If customers want your software modifications, they'll have them. But if they prefer starting with the base OS and building their own experiences, they can uninstall your additions and get back to square one without any complex procedures.
Manufacturers, you've worked hard to create custom skins for your Android devices. Now it's time to work harder to turn those skins into assets rather than liabilities for your users. It'll make the Android ecosystem -- and yes, your products -- far stronger in the end.
This story is from the new Android Power blog at Computerworld. Follow @AndroidPower on Twitter or subscribe via RSS to make sure you don't miss a beat. JR Raphael writes about smartphones and other tasty technology. You can find him on Facebook, Twitter, or at eSarcasm, his geek-humor getaway.