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Reported Google deal could see Samsung deliver cleaner Android, less bloat

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Google and Samsung agreeing to a 10 year patent licensing deal was good news for Android. But that might only be the tip of the iceberg. According to a report from Re/code the two are working together on a broader initiative that will bring the Samsung version of Android more inline with Google's vision. The talks appear to have started at CES following the reveal of Galaxy Tab Pro and Note Pro lines, which featured a new skin called Magazine UX. The interface was not only a dramatic departure from the familiar TouchWiz, but from the very core of Android itself. In fact, the panel-based home screen looks a lot more like Windows 8 than Mountain View's mobile OS. But Re/code's sources say that future Samsung devices will either feature a drastically scaled back version of Magazine UX or lose the interface all together. Obviously, keeping the Android experience as consistent as possible across devices and brands is good for Google, but it could also help Samsung, which is now looking at maintaining three different Android-based tablet skins.

Google has been pressuring companies to minimize the tweaks to the Android UI (with varying degrees of success) for sometime now. So it balking at Magazine UX should come as no surprise. The more interesting part of the deal reportedly involves Samsung's in-house apps. For years now the South Korean giant has been promoting its own (often lackluster) products that replicate functions of Google's core Play Services. For example, WatchON, ChatON and the mSpot-enhanced Media Hub. Sammy has apparently agreed to instead shift focus to the Play store, Newsstand, Hangouts and other Google-built apps. Again, this will bring additional consistency to the Android universe and, considering the size of Samsung's market share, will broaden the reach of Mountain View's services.

What isn't clear, is what concessions Samsung wrangled out of Google to get this deal done. It could simply be that Sundar Pichai threatened to pull access to the Play store if the Galaxy line didn't, well, get in line. But that seems doubtful. Perhaps the company was promised the next Nexus device or even a seat at the brainstorming sessions for Lemon Meringue Pie (Lollipop? Lik-M-Aid?).

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