In the last few years, we’ve seen an increasing trend of manufacturers releasing their proprietary system applications via the Google Play Store. Motorola, HTC and Google spring to mind as manufacturers that are using the Google Play Store infrastructure to roll out application updates. There are several reasons why a manufacturer will divorce these systems applications from the operating system and instead update them via the Play Store, but the most important one is it enables them to deliver application updates much, much quicker to customers. Before, if a system application was updated, the user had to wait for a firmware update in order to benefit from the new features. For some carriers, that could take weeks if not months for the update to go through the rigorous testing process. Sometimes, the update would be rejected, other times it would be joined by a few choice carrier applications; we all enjoy carrier bloat on our devices, right? Another reason why manufacturers use the Google Play Store is because there’s already a means of downloading applications, rather having to reinvent the wheel and potentially invest in more server capacity.
The importance of releasing updates to applications cannot be overstated but there are a couple of disadvantages. The first is that the device requires to be signed into a Gmail account in order to receive the updates from the Google Play Store. I don’t see this as a disadvantage myself but then I made the switch to Gmail a number of years ago and have never used an Android device without my Gmail address on it. Secondly, when an updated application is downloaded to replace a system application, this uses more storage. It’s an issue on devices with limited internal storage for applications, but thankfully it’s becoming less of an issue going forwards.
With this background, the news today is that HTC have released their proprietary Weather application into the Google Play Store. It’s available for HTC devices running Android 4.4, so that’s the One and Desire EYE so far. The Weather application joins a number of HTC’s other applications available on the Play Store including the File Manager, keyboard, lock screen, launcher and gallery, to name but a few.
The new application looks and feels very similar to the old one, although it was slightly more responsive when I use it. Unfortunately, it cannot change the weather but then I am in Britain, right?