O’Brien has long run the MoDaCo site and has created dozens of custom ROMs for Android devices. SWITCH is his most recent project, which came about when Google began selling the latest flagships from HTC and Samsung with pure Android software. Called Google Experience devices, the HTC One and Galaxy S 4 are the first in the series, and there are reports that Sony’s Xperia Z will also join the lineup.
But why choose between software from a manufacturer as opposed to the Nexus-like experience of stock Android? The answer is simple: although Google has iterated and matured Android quickly, handset makers have created their own apps that are optimized for their phone’s hardware.
Think of Samsung’s multi-window capability that lets you run two apps at once on the display. Or HTC’s camera app that supports many unique imaging features such as Zoes and Highlight videos. With the Google Experience, users of these phones miss out.
That’s where SWITCH comes in: with one button tap, an Android phone can switch between the two software environments. It actually requires a reboot of the phone for now, so it’s not quite instant. However, SWITCH doesn’t require you to re-install apps or add account credentials because it uses the same Android data stores. It may sound confusing, but it’s actually not once you see it in action:
Obviously, this video demonstration is for the HTC One handset. If funded — which is very likely considering how quickly the project crossed 80 percent of its goal — O’Brien will develop the same solution for the Galaxy S 4 so you can choose between TouchWiz and the Google Experience software. Given O’Brien’s prior development efforts, I wouldn’t be surprised if he follows up with the ability to add specific Sense and TouchWiz apps of your choice to a Google Experience device.