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Here's why Stock Android is completely overrated

Stock Android is overrated. It is. Devices running stock Android receive the fastest updates, and have the cleanest version of Google's mobile platform, but this is not the be-all-and-end-all of great software. While you may have to wait longer for other manufacturers to roll out updates, you can often find more impressive features in their own brand of the Android UI. Let's look at a few.  


We’ll start with one of my favorites. Not only did LG deliver a new way to interact with phones via its rear-button design on the LG G2, but it also introduced KnockOn, Knock Knock, or as some call it, double tap to wake.

While this is available on the Nexus 9 tablet, why this hasn’t been baked into stock Android on smartphones yet I do not know. 

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The Nexus 6 is being trampled on by other Android phones. / © ANDROIDPIT

Instead of pressing a hardware button to wake your device, you double-tap on the screen: that’s it. All it does is remove the time taken to find the power button and grip your phone - instead you can lazily prod at the handset to reveal the time or your current notifications. 

Double tap to wake sounds like nothing at all until you start using it and realize how much more convenient and comfortable it is to unlock your phone in this way. 

LG wasn’t the first to employ this idea, Nokia beat it to the punch some time before, but it takes smarts to identify these subtle features which could benefit the system and employ them.

Download Booster

Another simple innovation which makes perfect sense is Samsung’s Download Booster. Download booster combines LTE with Wi-Fi to download large files faster.

True, it has the potential to eat up your mobile data, but it’s a lovely little option for those who can afford to make use of it: big-budget Android games in particular can take a while to download.

This is a strong idea and a time-saver which Samsung has capitalized on to improve user-experience, stepping beyond what Google itself offers.  

androidpit samsung download booster screenshot
Download booster can be accessed in the settings menu of recent Samsung devices. / © ANDROIDPIT

Glove mode

Though it's not apparent on Android UIs like Xperia, TouchWiz (under the guise of "increase touch sensitivity"), and Sense 6.0, Google still has not delivered a glove mode to the stock Android experience.

What is it? Glove mode allows you to interact with your device while wearing gloves. When would you use it? When it's cold outside and you want to both wear gloves and use your phone simultaneously. 

Developers outside of Google have latched onto a thoroughly intuitive feature which is basically housed only in touch-screen sensitivity. This is great for people who live in cold regions, like us here at AndroidPIT. Would it be so hard to include this in stock Android?

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L to R: Samsung Galaxy S5, Sony Xperia Z3, Google Nexus 6, HTC One M8 and the LG G3. / © ANDROIDPIT

Record screen

While it’s possible to do this on stock Android KitKat 4.4 with Android Debug Bridge (ADB) tools installed, it’s nowhere near as intuitive as it is on the newer Sony devices.

Hold down the power button and select record screen with the likes of the Xperia Z3 or Xperia Z3 compact and an options menu will pop up where you can record from your screen.

Why is it useful? Well to help others for one. If someone asks how to attach a picture in WhatsApp, you can record the process on your phone and then send that recording to them, even via WhatsApp if you wish.

Its value lies mainly in delivering instructions and tutorials, but it’s a fun and easy way to do it. You can even record with the front-facing camera simultaneously and insert it, like in the screenshot below.

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Tell your parents how to access their camera app with a short video, if you wish. / © ANDROIDPIT


And there are tons more out there. OnePlus's off-screen gestures, Samsung Smart alert, LG Quick Memo, Samsung's Air Command. 

Though, of course, there is a price to be paid for this software. Stock Android gets updates first. Also, you often have to put up with some poor quality apps or features.

There are myriad apps in the app store offering the same features as those above, and could be installed on a stock Android device; this is beside the point. Stock Android forces apps and features upon you too, just like the others. They’re just better, for the most part, so we care less.

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A selection of the major Android flagships of 2015. / © ANDROIDPIT

I’m not trying to fool anyone that “forked” Android versions offer truly exclusive features which are unattainable elsewhere, nor that these manufacturers were the pioneers of these functions.

I’m just arguing that as complete products, other Android versions include features that stock doesn’t, which could provide for a better out-of-the-box experience.

Stock Android is the foundation, an incredible baseline to achieve fantastic results. Though it has often been squandered with unhelpful apps (I'm looking at you, ChatOn), manufacturers do use this foundation to add something genuinely practical, and, as with the cases above, more impressive than what Google can.

What's your favorite Android UI? Let us know in the comments below. 


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  • Ra Lee Jul 1, 2015 Link to comment

    I'm going to have to agree with the others as a plus one for stock. However for the record, "real stock" (vanilla) doesn't force anything on you. Nexus OS's are technically minimal but not stock. What your asking for is Google to make a feature full OS, but that kinda defeats the purpose doesn't it? As for my friend with the mustang, I'd ask are you the kind of guy who'd prefers to buy brand new cars preassembled off a lot, or would you rather customize before delivery?

  • Well said Scott

  • I prefer emui in the Huawei P8.

  • But that is the beauty of stock Android. You get a base model ui that you tweak as you desire. Yes LG has tap2wake, but (as you mentioned) it can always be added if the user so desires on stock. Do I want to wait 6 months for LG to pass me the newest update? No thanks. I'll accept that update as soon as Google says it's ready, then I'll add tap2wake or screen record, or whatever else I feel I might need.

    Besides, it's not only LG, Lamesung, or HTC, etc you have to wait for on that update. You also have to wait for the carrier to add whatever bloat ware they deem necessary to add before you get that update. So no thanks. I'd rather add 3 or 4 features I actually want than wait 6+ months to delete the 9+ crap ware I don't want.

  • When it really comes to choice, i'd love to have cynogenmod. Stock android with real features.

  • Pam O. Jul 1, 2015 Link to comment

    Love my Nexus 6. It's so easy to update need to wait for months. No bloatware either. My Nexus 6 has tap to wake and many other mods. This is a phone that you can easily root and make your very own with the modifications you want.

  • BruinGuy Jun 30, 2015 Link to comment

    I used to have a Mustang. Loved the car. It handled well. But I didn't like the interior. In ways it was like stock Android. Basic radio. No gps or mapping. Felt very spartan. Stock Android is like that. It's like getting the base car model instead of the upgraded model with a lot of features. Say what you want but I'm not at all fond of stock android.

    • Yes! I like the analogy.

    • Now imagine you bought your upgraded Mustang and it had tons of features like GPS and a backup camera. But it also came with 10 cup holders, a camera that records and let's you share your reaction whenever you almost crash, and a feature that wipes sweat off your face on hot days. Now imagine everyone of those features makes your car slower and less efficient. Welcome to bloat ware.

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