Google has finally announced the long-awaited name for Android Q, and it’s terrible.
Instead of continuing the cute and distinctive tradition of naming successive versions after alphabetical desserts (Cupcake, Donut, Eclair, Froyo, Gingerbread…), Google has hit the boring button and called it Android 10.
Thus ends one of the only interesting naming conventions in tech (we guess Ubuntu gets the crown now), and the enjoyable routine of speculating about which dessert they’ll pick for the next letter.
Admittedly, Q is a tricky one. There’s no obvious choice. There’s quince, a tasty fruit (quince jam with manchego cheese is ????) , or they could have cheated on the dessert part and picked queso, quorn, quarterpounder, quinoa, quesadilla or quiche. They could even have done a branding deal, as they did with Nestlé for Android KitKat, and picked Android Quavers.
Or they could have thrown it out to the public, who have a habit of coming up with better ideas than people who are paid tonnes of money to do exactly that. (My suggestion would have been Android Qcumber).
But they did none of these things. Instead, Google decided to completely abandon the whole naming convention halfway through the alphabet. Did they replace it with something still fun but a little easier to come up with? Nope. They’ve gone for Android 10, the dullest and least original idea possible.
If you’re going to kill something people love, you’d damn well better have an excellent replacement. Android 10 is not it. Aside from the fact that it’s not the tenth version of Android — it’s the seventeenth if you count the unnamed Alpha and Beta or fifteenth if you don’t — it’s almost criminally similar to loads of other tech products on the market.
Android 10 joins Windows 10, iPhone X, Galaxy S10, Galaxy Note 10, Honor 10, Sony Xperia 10, Mac OS X, BlackBerry 10 and countless other 10s in the tech sphere. It’s so bland that it should have been rejected even as a codename. From most corporations, this would have been an eyeroll moment. From Google, it’s a travesty.
Android has long been the innovative, fun alternative to the soulless white uniformity of Apple. It’s for the outliers, the people who like to mess with their phone settings and root their devices and read tech blogs. From the very beginning, the little green robot and its open (ish) OS had a personality, a brand, an identity. And those things inspire love in a way that please-everyone-but-actually-no-one decisions do not.
Google’s explanatory blog post sounds like your mum telling you there’s no pudding today because you didn’t eat your greens. Admittedly, the rationale makes sense:
We’ve heard feedback over the years that the names weren’t always understood by everyone in the global community.
For example, L and R are not distinguishable when spoken in some languages. So when some people heard us say Android Lollipop out loud, it wasn’t intuitively clear that it referred to the version after KitKat. It’s even harder for new Android users, who are unfamiliar with the naming convention, to understand if their phone is running the latest version. We also know that pies are not a dessert in some places, and that marshmallows, while delicious, are not a popular treat in many parts of the world.
Yeah, fine. Not everyone understood that Pie was supposed to be a pudding. Who cares? Version F was called FroYo, an abbreviation for ‘frozen yoghurt’ that we’re not very familiar with in Australia. Did it matter? Not at all.
Version N was named Nougat, which led to a whole debate over whether it’s pronounced ‘nugget’ or ‘noo-ga.’ It was fun, it got people talking. Can you see anyone writing blog posts about Android 11? Speculating what it’ll be called, what the adorable statue at Google HQ will look like, what the best recipe is? Us neither.
If anything, Google’s missed an opportunity to educate the world about tasty treats found elsewhere. Android Queso might be a cheesy name, but it would teach everyone a Spanish word. And so what if it’s not pronounced identically the world over? Very few things are. ‘Android 10’ will be Android Diez, Android Dix, Android Zehn, Android Dyes-yat, and a billion other words for ‘ten.’
Instead of making everyone feel included and understood, all Google has succeeded to do is water down its brand from something cool that it was fun to be part of, to some dull corporate crap anyone could have come up with. Great, it’ll be slightly easier to tell which of two versions is newer if you didn’t get that the old names were alphabetical. You’ll still have to look up which one they’re up to now, and you’ll probably instantly forget because there is nothing memorable about it whatsoever.
And what will become of the little Easter egg Google puts into new Android releases? Tap enough times on the version name and you’d get a fun little game or animation based on the treat. Now you probably get the sodding Ts and Cs.