Both HTC and Samsung have just announced what are effectively third-generation Android tablets running custom UIs, and now we know why: Google isn't allowing them on the current version of Android 3.0 Honeycomb.
The uber-slender new Samsung Galaxy Tabs and HTC's forthcoming Flyer both run custom interfaces built on top of Honeycomb, but they're being held back until Google releases a version of Honeycomb that allows it.
An LG spokesperson at the Droidcon conference in Berlin has revealed that for the time being LG is prohibiting any adjustments or changes to the Android 3.0 interface, but will be changing that policy down the line.
The spokesperson said Google wanted to establish Honeycomb as a strong platform and so wanted all initial Honeycomb tablets to look the same.
It does seem to explain why Samsung has updated the vanilla-Honeycomb Galaxy Tab 10.1 it showed off at Mobile World Congress so quickly. Yes, it's given it the chance to slim down the dimensions, but the revamped Tab also runs the TouchWiz UI on top of Android, which the original wasn't able to.
Similarly, the HTC Flyer launched at the same time last month only had Android 2.3 Gingerbread on board, while this morning we reported that two new Flyers are being lined up for mid-year, both running HTC Sense on top of Honeycomb.
Given the issue with Android fragmentation, we're not sure if further subdividing your OS versions is the best idea in the world, but either way we can't help but feeling this sort of thing was always going to happen at some point.
Android has grown so big that sooner or later Google is guaranteed to start cutting down on that freedom of choice the platform is supposed to offer. After all, look at what has happened to Apple and the lovely walled garden it has erected around Cupertino.
What do you think? Is this the start of a more draconian Google as Android continues to blossom? Let us know in the Comments below.
Via The Unwired