Is Android Getting That Much Better?

At one point when I had my Samsung Vibrant, I literally had installed every ROM available for it on the XDA forums. I was flashing the phone daily. Sometimes I would flash it with different ROMs before I left for work, a new one at lunch and again when I got home. I became obsessed with trying to find the best ROM for the phone.

It finally dawned on me that none of these ROMs were what I needed. I was really looking for a customized experience that I was creating on top of every ROM I loaded. In other words, I would load a ROM and then put a launcher, app set and set of system tweaks to make the phone the way I wanted. The end result was almost the same with every build I tried. Some ROMs had better battery life or cooler sounds to use for notifications but I even customized most of them!

When I bought the Galaxy Nexus, I liked the pure AOSP (Android Open Source Project) experience. I didn’t load a launcher or even root it for the first month. But eventually I started to tweak and customize my phone with new launchers and a set of apps that made it feel like I wanted. I even themed most things to look very Ice Cream Sandwich-like. I like that pure experience. I have tried some ROMs for the Galaxy Nexus and even have been contemplating running CM10. But the AOSP ROMs have been running great and my battery life has been decent.

I am now running Jellybean with Nova Launcher (my personal preference over any others I have tried) with my set of apps that I have to have, it feels perfect to me. I am able to use my phone in a highly efficient manner and get the performance that I desire all at the same time. I am not flashing every new build or nightly update that comes along. Yet, I am more satisfied with my phone now than I ever have been.

So have I matured as a user? Has the base OS improved so much that I no longer need to change everything about it? Maybe it is a little of both. I know that Jellybean is a huge improvement over Éclair and FroYo. Those were the ROMs I flashed over all of the time. I think that Ice Cream Sandwich and Jellybean have improved the Android experience so much that there is less need to change everything about it.  I know that recently there have been articles about what things should be improved in the Android user interface.  But really, most of those things were minor tweaks.  Isn’t that why we customize our phones anyway?

As we are getting closer to the announcement of Key Lime Pie, I wonder if we will get to a point where the customization’s that most users do will decrease? The UI is getting better and stock Android is more refined than ever. What improvements are needed in the next version of Android to make you keep it stock? Sound off over on my Google+ page and let me know what apps you load that Android is lacking.  I would love to try some of them out.

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