Android is going premium, and Google, the company that unleashed the open-source software onto the world, is behind it.
Android Silver is both a new software standard and certification process that will reportedly replace the Nexus program, according to The Information. Google is set to partner with several OEMs, including Motorola and LG, on devices that would present a more unified idea of Android hardware and software, similar to the way Apple and BlackBerry design both sides of the experience.
While the program will resemble Nexus in that it will offer speedy updates and direct support, it will differ by expanding the idea of “stock” Android. Google has been experimenting with adding unique features to its Nexus devices, such as Photo Sphere and, most recently, the Google Now launcher, that are unavailable even to those running AOSP-based ROMs, and Android Silver will heavily expand upon those principles.
Like devices from Samsung, HTC, Sony and others, handsets adhering to Android Silver certification will have unique features and capabilities that Google will keep closed off to other OEMs and custom ROM creators. The Android Open Source Project will still exist, and will still be the basis for all OEM software, but Silver will essentially create a new version of Android that will appeal to enthusiasts willing to pay more for a premium experience. Devices released under the Silver designation will have limits to how much OEM and carrier bloatware can be pre-installed, and will provide “extras,” similar to what Samsung offers on its high-end Galaxy devices.
The Nexus program may not disappear completely, but it appears likely that Google’s days of offering high-end hardware at mid-range prices may be numbered. Google will reportedly work with OEMs and carriers to promote these Android Silver devices, eating many of the associated marketing and advertising costs on their behalf.
The most impressive aspect of Android Silver is that Google finally appears to understand that users want consistent experiences across devices, and that in order to attract high-profile app and game developers it needs to ensure that hardware and software work well together.