Galaxy, Android. Which came first? Many people on the street say the former. Google has an image problem with Android, with Korean manufacturer Samsung stealing most of the limelight with the launch of it’s flagship Galaxy series and countless other devices across price points and sizes.
But if recent developments at Google are a sign of things to come it looks like the Internet giant, is making moves to get back control of the number one mobile operating system.
In what has come has a bit of a surprise, Google has released the stock keyboard of Android in the Play Store, a signal it is slowly reclaiming each component from the manufacturers.
The stock keyboard includes all the features introduced up through Android 4.2, and it can be installed on any Android device running 4.0 or higher. According to the latest numbers from Google , the combined number of users on Ice Cream Sandwich (4.0) and Jelly Bean (4.1+4.2) is now at 58.6%.
So a majority of devices can now experience the stock keyboard even if they are not Nexus devices which were till now the only devices that had this keyboard. Most manufactures were including their own versions of keyboards which was not necessary the best experience.
The app supports gesture typing, which lets you swipe across the screen from letter to letter to form a word, automatic error correction, word predictions, and voice typing. It currently features dictionaries for 26 languages.
The best part about Google releasing the keyboard in the Play Store is that they can now push out new features without waiting for OS updates.
Earlier this year, Google had released the Google Hindi Input keyboard which allowed users to type in Hindi.
This is a new strategy that Google seems to be following. At the Google I/O last month, Google announced various enhancements to Android without actually updating the Android OS. It included new APIs for developers in various services, including Google Play Services. These APIs since they were updated in Play Services would now be available for all developers for free and all versions of Android above 2.2 could make use of it.
This was a great move by Google, since OS updates from manufactures took a lot of time and a majority of phones never got an update. (Just look at your phone and see what version it is running on.) When Micromax had released the Jelly Bean update for the Canvas 2, it made customers actually walk into stores to get the update. Not really a great experience, when others are doing OTA updates.
Android users, even those on Froyo, can now thus get advanced features just as geofencing.
Apart from this, Google announced a Google Edition of the Samsung Galaxy S4 at Google I/O and just last week Sundar Pichai, the head of Chrome and Android at Google, announced that there would also be a Google Edition of the HTC One. Both these phones will both go on sale on June 26th in the US on the Play Store.
The selling of devices on the Play Store is another move by Google as it seeks to take back control of Android from the growing dominance of manufacturers like Samsung. It has slowly expanded its store to other countries including India, where the Nexus 7 is available online.
This all does not mean that Google will go slow on Android OS updates. If one looks at the screenshot on the Play Store careful, the time says 4:30. Could this mean that Android 4.3 is going to be released soon?