March 21, 2011 | by Michael Heller
Given that Android tablet manufacturers aren’t doing much to differentiate the physical look of their tablet hardware, this moment was inevitable. I think that Google made good on its promise to revamp the Android UI so as to remove any need for custom UIs, but that won’t stop manufacturer’s from adding them in under the guise of “adding functionality”.
CTIA is almost upon us, and PocketNow was able to grab a couple pictures of the Samsung booth, which shows off new details for the Galaxy Tab 8.9. In addition to getting confirmation that the 8.9″ version of the Galaxy Tab will be just as thin as the iPad 2, at 8.6mm, there is mention of the “Live Panel” UI, which will be placed atop the Honeycomb UI. “Live Panels” are essentially Samsung widgets for Calendar, Email, Weather, News, Stocks, Gallery, Clock, and Bookmarks. It’s hard to tell from the look of the shots, but Samsung may have skinned all of Honeycomb as well.
In general, I fully understand that manufacturers want to differentiate their products, and one way of doing that is changing the UI. The trouble is that manufacturer’s almost never make it optional (with the notable exceptions of certain HTC devices.) So, a custom UI usually amounts to a number of widgets which you may or may not want, a change in aesthetics, and a drop in overall performance. We have the option to remove widgets, so why not the skin as well?