The Hills Are Greener: Why Maybe the Latest Android Version Isn’t Necessary, But Then Again…

The Hills Are Greener: Why Maybe the Latest Android Version Isn’t Necessary, But Then Again…

Apr 30, 2013

Google Glass running Android should surprise no one – after all, if you’re building a piece of hardware that you want developers to test on, and if you’re spending a lot of money to build an OS, why not make it run Android? The reasons are just too obvious.

What should be surprising is that Google isn’t running the latest version of Android on it – it’s running a build of Ice Cream Sandwich instead of Jelly Bean. Google is usually the company that pushes out the latest and greatest Android versions to their devices, so for them to be 2 versions behind (if you count Jelly Bean 4.1 and 4.2) is a bit shocking.

But is it really necessary? Is there some Jelly Bean feature that Google Glass would be tremendously improved by? For limited-purpose devices such as this, does it really just need a functional version of Android in order to work properly, as opposed to the latest and greatest? Your Android-powered oven doesn’t really need Project Butter, does it? For phones and tablets, user-facing devices, yes, having the latest version should be a goal. But for limited-use devices, is it such a big deal?

Jelly Bean LogoThere is just one problem: Android updates include fixes for security holes. For devices like phones and tablets that have users installing third-party software that can potentially contain malware that exploits these holes, this is why they need updated system software. Right now, holes go unpatched for long periods of time while manufacturers wait to get updates ready, or if they never get them ready at all. Thus, bugs can be fixed quickly, but never actually reach the users who need the protection.

For devices like Google Glass and ovens where their purposes might be more limited, there’s still a potential issue because of the fact that they are still connecting to networks, and with Android’s open source nature, it seems like breaking in would be within the realm of possibility, if not likely.

Now, Google Glass is still a product only for a limited market of developers and early adopters, and as such, probably doesn’t need the kind of security that consumer models will need. But still, to see that even Google doesn’t necessarily care about always getting the latest version of Android out there is a bit distressing.

Other Product Announcements at Google I/O 2012: Nexus Q and Google Glass

Other Product Announcements at Google I/O 2012: Nexus Q and Google Glass

Jun 28, 2012

Google I/O may have had a few expected announcements: Jelly Bean, the Nexus tablet, and the Google Glasses becoming official, but one product is a particular surprise: the Nexus Q.

The Nexus Q seems like an interesting device, kn that it wasn’t exactly expected. It’s taking on the Apple TV and AirPlay in general by trying to exist as a streaming media hub. Android devices will be able to stream media to the Nexus Q, including music and video content. Google Music owners will be able to use the Nexus Q to stream their collection with just the device. Android tablets and phones can control the Nexus Q wirelessly. It also has speaker connections, so it could serve as a kind of wireless audio receiver to go along with its media streaming features.

The form factor is a curious decision: spherical, with a ring of blue LEDs that light up when it is on. Google is also boasting that this device is made entirely in the United States. All this will come at a steep price: $299. This may not have the mass-market appeal of the Apple TV, which has done well for Apple at its $99 price, though their use of common chip architecture across the iOS line is a boon to them. The Nexus Q ships starting in July.

The Google glasses, now officially called Google Glass, were also confirmed. They won’t be mass-market devices at launch, as they’ll retail for $1500, and will not ship until next year, at least for the Explorer Edition model. The future of the project is still not entirely clear, but Google spent plenty of time showing the interactive digital eyewear off in their Google I/O presentation. With the delayed launch, it does appear that there’s still a lot to be done to make the glasses ready for even developer consumption, but it could be a very interesting project down the road.