Google is softening its stance toward customization in Android Wear, saying device makers will have more ability to tweak the software over time.
Hiroshi Lockheimer, Google’s vice president of engineering, told Re/code that Asus’ upcoming ZenWatch will show a glimpse of how additional customization might work. The watch, announced in September, has some extra features not found in other Android Wear devices, such as a customizable double-tap gesture and a cover to mute function. It’ll also have several extra built-in apps, including presentation controls and a remote phone finder.
Lockheimer said that same flexibility would apply to other new Google efforts, such as Android Auto and Android TV. “It’s not some Google-way-or-the-highway kind of thing,” he said. “…We’re trying to find the right balance of differentiation and customization.”
Google just wants time to get the experience right before it opens the door to more OEM tweaks, Lockheimer, said. And while device makers may get more control over time, Google is still pushing the idea of pre-loaded apps rather than more drastic interface changes.
Why this matters: It’s a slightly different tune than the one Google sang during its I/O conference in June . At the time, engineering director David Burke told Ars Technica that Google would control the user interface and software code for Android Wear, Android Auto and Android TV, with goal of having everything “work the same and look the same.” But as Lockheimer said, Google needs to walk a fine line, lest its hardware partners get fed with a lack of distinguishing features. Besides, additional tweaks and enhancements can be useful, provided Google can keep its partners from running amok.