Non-Google Android Languishes in Obscurity

So I have several G1’s, a myTouch 3G, two Motorola Droid’s, and just one Archos 5 Internet Tablet.  While, certainly no expert, I have been using Android the week the G1 was released and was following it before it was a Google acquisition and the only device that I have chosen to not keep is the Archos 5 Internet Tablet.

Let’s begin.  The A5 IT debuted with Android 1.5 and has just gotten a critical update to 1.6 that added global search, widgets, and other system updates but mobile phones are marching their way towards Android 2.1.  Even though, I enjoyed the novelty of the A5’s ARM Cortex 800 MHz processor and 800×480 4.8 inch screen I could not get over not having Google applications like Gmail, Contacts, Voice, Maps, Market and the almighty sync feature for my Google ID.  And don’t even get me started on Archos’ AppsLib.

So even when I tried to use the native e-mail application I had to either manually enter my contacts or load them via USB from my PC, not a good solution when you have as many as 1,600 contacts or more.  And even though the A5 has GPS it doesn’t have Google Maps so you are forced to use the maps application that has flaky GPS connectivity and dubious directions at best.

Archos is rumored to deliver the new A7 Internet Tablet soon and Camangi released their WebStation to minimal fanfare and even worse reviews.  Can non-Google survive in the wake of Nexus One’s, Droid’s, and Hero’s?  I don’t think so.  Without Google apps and sync ability, the plain Android OS is just like any other OS.  Is it open, is it still Android, can dev’s write for it?  Yes, yes, and yes.  Is it useful for everyday consumers without Google apps/sync?  Not really.

When we pick up and use Android phones, rooted or not, we are accustomed to the fact that we can just enter our Google usernames and passwords and get all of our critical data back.  I flirted with a TouchPro 2 recently and without Google sync it was not useful.  Ditto for non-Google Android.

Is this just my opinion or do you think vanilla Android will survive or is it just a hobbyist’s dream platform?

  • You want google apps on your archos?

    No problem.

  • Saw that awhile ago, but I want Archos and Google to get together on it. As good as a hack it is, its still just a hack and not supported when firmware is updated.

    • Archos released a new firmware yesterday to tether HTC phones and iphones using DAN or PAN or how it's called. It's the only Android device in the world to support it.

      Google does not charge for certification, but it costs Google to expand the officially supported reach of the Google experience to non htc/motorola/samsung/acer phones. I can tell you of course Google is adding support for tablets and laptops in Android 2.2, look for my videos of it from Mobile World Congress this week at

      And Google marketplace and gmail and google maps works perfect on Archos you can install the whole google experience on Archos with one .apk file. The only difference is that it's not pre-installed.

    • Other than Google Maps needing a constant data connection to work, the "hack" is a perfectly good solution to get the apps you were complaining are missing, which makes your issues with the A5 non-issues.

  • John

    I want a custom ROM that doesn't have google apps, I hate the fact that they enable by default syncing everything with google and it's near impossible to disable it, only to have it re-enabled next upgrade you do.

  • spoiler alert: Archos is never going to pay Google for the with 'Google branding' Lets face it they cut corners to save money where ever they possibly can.

  • The lack of Google Experience is what keeps me from using Android on my eee. Like you say, it's pretty useless without the Google apps. Been looking at the SmartQ V7 (with Android among other OS choices) but until I know I can have GMail, contacts & cetera, I'll wait for a tablet where I know I can.

  • panmsp

    Dude you really need to take a writing class. Wow.

  • Google experience isn't essential alongs that it has a suitable replacement. Any company could replace Google Apps with their own services. Archos just left the void blank which is the problem.

  • I have very similar experience. Ended up installing all Google stack on it. Sky will not work but Maps/Navigation does. I was very close to getting rid of it until I found out that I can use it as a book reader

  • As someone with a G1, a G2, a Droid and an Archos 5IT, I really have to say I love my 5IT, especially with last week’s ROM update.

    The Google apps hack was simple to run (2 minutes?) and everything runs beautifully. I love the quality for videos and audio on-the-go (enough to get rid of my iPod Touch) and it’s effortless to web browse on the gorgeous and gigantic screen.

    I won’t be retiring the 5IT, but I doubt I’ll buy a 7″. The 5″ screen is HUGE and it fits in all my pockets quite nicely. For under $300, it’s a steal.

  • A DePalma

    The question is if ANY android platform will provide the robust APPLICATIONS — not "apps" — that enable productivity on these mobile devices. We don't need another 120,000 apps that are as lame as the ipod's.