The kick-off to Google I/O 2014 is less than 24 hours away, and by all accounts this year's developer fest will be filled with all kinds of Googlelicious goodies, including Android Wear devices, Google Fit, Project Ara, and Android 5.0.
Or maybe it will be called Android 4.5—nobody knows for sure.
Whatever the next version of Android is called it will no doubt be filled with fabulous new features, or maybe even a few things from third-party Android skins. But as the saying goes, it's the little things that count.
While Android is a great OS overall, here are four small changes that would make a big difference for users in the next version of Android.
More control over auto-updates
Even with an "update all" option, manually updating apps on a smartphone or tablet is a pain, which is why Google Play's auto-update feature is so great. But it also tends to have the worst possible timing, beginning an update cycle just when you want to stream a video or play a game.
That's why Google needs to add a "pause updates" option or allow users to schedule auto-updates only between 1 a.m. and 3 a.m. Something, anything, to give users more control over when their phones start auto-updating.
The Moto X has it, the Samsung Galaxy S5 has it, and Google Play definitely has it, but why doesn't the core Android experience have a quiet time setting? Even Microsoft's Outlook.com app for Android has this feature, as do both Windows Phone and iOS. Quiet time guarantees you won't get buzzed via instant message or or hit with phone calls when you're trying to sleep, automatically silencing incoming notifications, calls, and texts.
You could just flip your phone into airplane mode, but that's not the same thing as an automated solution that just knows when it's time to stop beeping.
Control the notifications bar
For the most part, handling the notifications bar in Android is easy: Look at your alert and swipe it away when you're done. Simple! Except for when it's not. There are a handful of apps, like AirDroid and BBM, that overstay their welcome by not letting you swipe them away. Beyond being merely annoying, the right (wrong?) mix of these "permanent" apps can clog up your notifications section quickly.
Android 5.0 should force apps that insist upon residing in the notifications bar to have a "switch off" option, to allow you to manually banish the pushy offenders into the abyss. Hey, Windows lets you hide programs from the taskbar and system tray, right?
Maybe the world has moved on to event calendars on Facebook and Google+, or maybe calendar apps are just too old school. Even so, it's odd that the core Android OS can't handle (iCalendar) files.
You would think the company behind one of the most popular online calendar apps would support one-touch calendar subscriptions from a phone, but it doesn't. Instead, your best bet is to access Google Calendar on a PC and then import the ICS file from there.
They aren't huge changes, but these tiny tweaks would really make the next version of Android shine.