Google has had a problem for some time with manufacturers of the most popular Android smartphones putting their own stamp on Google's own software.

The most recent versions of Android in their pure form were as slick and sophisticated as Apple's iOS, while offering much more flexibility and customisation.

However this pure version of Android is almost indistinguishable from the one seen on phones and tablets from Samsung, LG, HTC or Sony with all manufacturers feeling they can do better than Google when it comes to the look and feel of software.

The result is a fragmented and frustrating experience for users who switch between devices - even if those devices are both running the same version of Android.

Google has been looking to regain control of the operating system for a while now, and its most recent step was taken without any fanfare at all.

Google Now Launcher

Last week the search giant silently updated the Google Now Launcher app in the Play Store. Previously, the app was only for use with Nexus devices to bring the latest tweaks to the stock software.

However, once downloaded it will now allow you to transform any Android smartphone or tablet (once it is running Android 4.1 or over) and give you an experience akin to that of Google's own Nexus devices.

Going on current Android Developer stats, that means that 75% of the smartphones and tablets out there using an official version of Android will soon be able to switch to the stock installation.

This will mean a slicker experience in the majority of cases, as well as easy access to Google Now and Google's voice search from the home screen.

While this update will make putting stock Android on your smartphone much easier, it still won't be used by the vast majority of people.

However, as Gordon Kelly at Forbes points out, while the quiet update is a big deal for Android users, it could be an indication of much bigger things to come from Google as it looks to wrestle back control of Android:

"For Google this is an even bigger deal. Why? Google is sick of its partners. It successfully smacked down Samsung earlier in the year, but that was about reducing bloatware and retaining some semblance of credit for Android when Samsung was systematically wiping every trace of Google from their phones."

Kelly suggests that the future could see all official Android smartphones giving users a choice when they first turn the phone on - stick with the manufacturer-tweaked software or "Try the pure Android experience".

While this may sound like an ideal solution, should too many people chose the second option, then we could see a situation where more and more Android manufacturers go down the Amazon and Xiaomi route and fork the software completely, removing all Google services and offer content for sale through their own online stores.