Oct 22, 2012
Google’s got an event that’s happening on October 29th to reveal…something. The timing would indicate that it’s some kind of new Nexus device, and two are rumored in particular: an LG Nexus 4, and a 10" Nexus tablet from Samsung. New hardware is new hardware and we’ll have a report on it after the event. But there may also be a new version of Android released, version 4.2. Now, it appears as if this will be a minor update from Jelly Bean, but I find this immediate release somewhat problematic if true.
Part of me believes that Google needs to focus quite squarely on not fragmenting the Android userbase. Keeping major features in maybe a yearly milestone release like how iOS releases new versions would help keep things under relative control, as opposed to the chaos that seems to generally accompany new version releases, where the Nexus devies get it right away, and then everyone in the Android manufacturing sphere takes their sweet time releasing their update – if they ever make it in the first place. It’s a mess, and another software version won’t help it.
But then, here’s the other thought: what if their strategy toward preventing fragmentation is actually to release more Nexus devices? Instead of getting to a situation where phones are getting updates to OS versions a year late, months after the next version was announced, and right before another new version comes out, why not instead create an ecosystem where more devices are getting timely updates? By making more Nexus devices, they can make sure more devices are running the newer versions of Android when they are released – or at least relatively around that time – and reduce the number of devices that are out there cluttering up the landscape.
Of course, the real solution would be to work with manufacturers and carriers to push new updates out the door in a timely manner, possibly by getting them the next version ahead of time. iOS may be all controlled by Apple, but their strategy of announcing features and releasing betas to developers several months before its official launch helps to create an envrionment of preparedness for the next version. That just does not exist yet on Android, where it seems like versions are dropped upon the market with no warning.
Or maybe critics, pundits, and users need to accept that Android is a platform where the latest and greatest software version may never come to our current devices, and the most reliable way to upgrade? Buy a new device. Or buy a Nexus. Given the bottleneck that updates go through, it may be the best way to do things, unfortunately.