Google and Samsung are said to launch a version of the Samsung Galaxy S4 that runs pure Android (AOSP) at the Google I/O keynote today.[Update: Galaxy S4 Google Edition is official, coming on June 26 with stock Android – More on that here]
Android and Chrome boss Sundar Pichai told us we shouldn’t expect much new hardware at Google I/O, perhaps in an effort to downplay rampant speculation, but that doesn’t mean that we won’t see anything exciting today. In fact, if a report from Geek.com’s Russell Holly proves accurate, the I/O keynote could bring something that many have longed clamored for – a pure Android version of (probably) the best-selling Android device of 2013, the Samsung Galaxy S4.
The report is based on “sources on hand at Google I/O”, and, given Holly’s usual aversion for baseless rumors, we tend to believe it.
The so-called Galaxy S4 Google Edition is said to be identical in terms of hardware to the regular TouchWiz-running version, with the difference residing in the software. Samsung and Google have collaborated to create an Android Open Source Project (AOSP) for the Galaxy S4, which will also be unveiled at the keynote today.
The Galaxy S4 Google Edition will go on sale in June and “will be available on T-Mobile bands”, at least for starters, the report goes on. The sources didn’t specify if the device will sell through Samsung or through the Play Store.
Why is this important, you may ask? Plenty of people prefer stock Android to TouchWiz (or any other OEM overlay, for the matter). TouchWiz is often criticized for being overloaded with features and for a somehow heavy-handed user interface. Users who like the Galaxy S4 hardware, but dislike the UI, currently have no option but to wait for a CyanogenMod release for the device.
If the Samsung Galaxy S4 Google Edition turns out to be more than a rumor, the device could become appealing to even more users. Moreover, its potential success could open the way for more similar endeavors, possibly from other manufacturers. The fact that a device of this caliber gets an AOSP project is significant in itself, and a testimony for the growing preference for stock Android.
In the end, Android is all about options, and having the possibility to choose between AOSP or TouchWiz can only be beneficial for Galaxy S4 customers.
How important is having stock Android for you? Are you tempted by the Galaxy S4 Google Edition?
Stay tuned for our full Google I/O coverage throughout the day!