Android operating system from Google is the leading mobile platform in terms of versatility as a vast majority of devices are run on Android. Android has also evolved to deliver a stupendous ecosystem with a variety of OS features, capabilities, and scope of customization. Since Android device manufacturers often want to tweak the typical Android experience with their own features, Android custom UI became so popular. On the other hand, Google actually tightened its grip on the core Android look, feel, and experience. This made Stock Android a great option for those who strictly follow Google’s UI guidelines.
In this respect, it is important to know the differences between Stock Android and Custom UI. In the course of this blog post, we will define Stock Android and Custom UI and mention their specific features and key offerings for the mobile app developers.
What is the Stock Android?
Stock Android basically refers to the Android version, which follows Google’s official guidelines and UI elements. It is the Android UI built and unleashed by Google without any changes or additions. Stock Android offers only the UI elements and features of the Android update released officially by Google. As a pure and unadulterated Android version, it doesn’t offer a separate UI layer.
What is Android Custom UI?
Android custom UI refers to the custom-built Android experience by adding some custom UI elements and some third-party apps on top of the core Android operating system. Custom UI allows modification and changes to the core Android experience. For example, device manufacturer brands like Samsung have customized the Android UI with the addition of a custom layer called TouchWiz. By adding additional UI layers, device manufacturers can add a few extra features and touch interactions to the core Android experience.
Now that we have defined Stock Android and Android custom UI let us have a closer look at the key areas where differences between these two Android versions are clearly visible.
Value-added features and third-party apps
Even devices using Stock Android offer an array of user-friendly features and UI elements like app launchers, app drawers, gestures, etc. The Stock Android device users can download several applications called Stock applications from the Play Store. In complete contrast, leading flagship devices use custom UI just to provide users a range of sophisticated features and value-added applications that the device comes loaded with.
OS and device performance
Stock Android is designed to deliver uncompromising user experience as Google releases a new Android update only after going through a series of test runs. Stock Android simply doesn’t have any bugs or performance deterring factors, including touch response and fluidity of navigation. In contrast, custom UI is often seen to have performance issues apart from frequent findings of bugs.
Google for the Android update follows the Material design principle for app, and this design principle validated by countless apps proves to be great for all Android devices. Moreover, Google only brings gradual and smooth design changes with every Android update that doesn’t create many problems with user interactions. In contrast, custom UI often fails to meet the Material Design principle of Google and cause design issues. Though, some custom UIs are really good at keeping the best of both worlds.
Scope of Customization
When it comes to the scope of customization, Stock Android seems to be very limited as it strictly restricts itself within the boundary of the latest Android features and UI guidelines. Custom UI enjoys a lot of customization scope as multiple features can be added, and value additions can easily be done in design and other aspects.
Access and Control
Stock Android typically has far less control over the devices it is used for. Since Stock Android is not made for any specific device, they don’t enjoy access to the root system files. In contrast, Custom UI provides comprehensive and in-depth control and access to any Android device. This helps users more satisfactory user experience with the handset.
When it comes to security, Stock Android devices provide more reliability and security as they have the inbuilt safeguard against all malicious programs and bloatware. In contrast, custom Android devices are more exposed to security vulnerabilities and attacks. Many custom UI Android devices have already been victims of data breaches and security threats.
The biggest advantage of Stock Android devices is the out of the box latest Android experience they offer to the users. As Google releases firmware updates in a very timely manner, they never fail to get outdated. Moreover, any device running on Stock Android receives the latest Android update first before it becomes accessible by others. In contrast, only high-end custom Android devices receive regular updates though they do not get small updates on a regular basis.
For most smartphone buyers, battery life is one of the most important factors in making a purchasing decision. While Stock Android devices, in spite of having negligible resources, often give better battery life and battery performance. Custom Android devices consume more battery power, and devices can get out of battery power sooner because of additional apps and features.
Android is an open-source mobile operating system that allows the great scope of customization and value additions. Naturally, many flagship device manufacturers take advantage of this open ecosystem and deliver more values in respect of features and apps. But at the same time, in spite of these additional features, they lack the solid performance and robust strength of Stock Android released by Google.
Juned Ghanchi is a co-founder of IndianAppDevelopers, a top mobile app development company in India specialize in Android and iOS native app development. Juned is having 10 years of experience in research, analytics, and digital marketing in the software industry.