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Google VP: Android Updates Will Slow to One Per Year

Gordon Kelly


Google VP: Android Updates Will Slow to One Per Year

There has been a lot of excited chatter about the speed Google's Android platform has been evolving. There has also been an equal amount of frustration at how fragmented it has become...

Consequently this news has us both saddened yet nodding our heads in stoic acknowledgement of its practicality: Google VP Andy Rubin (below) has said major Android updates will eventually slow to just one per year.

Speaking to Silicon Valley Mercury News he explained:

"We’ve gone through a lot of product iterations because we had to bring the product up to market spec. Quite honestly, the product when we launched it, it didn’t really feel like a 1.0, it felt like kind of an 0.8, but it was a window of opportunity and the market needed an entrant at the holiday season. So we launched it, and from our internal 0.8, we got to 1.0 pretty quickly, and we went through this iteration cycle. You’ve noticed, probably, that that’s slowed down a little bit. Our product cycle is now, basically twice a year, and it will probably end up being once a year when things start settling down, because a platform that’s moving — it’s hard for developers to keep up. I want developers to basically leverage the innovation. I don’t want developers to have to predict the innovation."

That's a long quote, but I think Rubin makes a fair point. That said, we hope the improvements Google has already discussed to stop Android fragmentation are also at the forefront of Rubin's mind.

Personally, as I ranted in the TrustedReviews Podcast episode 2, I really don't care about all these handset makers' Android skins that cause the fragmentation in the first place. In my world Android development would continue at its current breakneck pace and every handset would have an option to disable its custom UI if you wanted to upgrade to a new Android version. Makes sense, no?

Link: Silicon Valley Mercury News


June 2, 2010, 1:30 pm

Yes. It makes sense. But I can't really see it happening. Why would an OEM choose to let users disable their USP? Doesn't make for good marketing, really.


June 2, 2010, 1:35 pm

Android fragmentation is already apparent and Google must do something to try and ease the situation. They really don't have a world of time in which to do this either. Once public opinion shifts negatively it will be difficult for Google to have it restored.

I quite like the idea of underpinning manufacturers 'skinning' or 'branding' with a unified Android UI, where OTA updates to the OS would make it to the handset regardless of the mobile network operator's own prejudices (such as against Tethering). It is important that Google's Android set the pace of handset development, as does Apple's iPhone. Left to the mobile network operators we may just be getting eMail in a year or two's time!

I would be happy with one major update and a few point releases throughout a single year. Particularly now that Android 2.2 has been sampled and found to be a head and shoulders improvement over Android 2.1. There is probably little need for Android to keep going at the accelerated pace that it has since launch.


June 2, 2010, 1:43 pm

This was always going to happen and I welcome it. Especially if the updates are only needed for the unlying core of android as the likes of the camera app, browser etc will (hopefully) be handled via the market.

Android has come a long way in a short time but it still has plenty of work left. Mostly small (to the user) things like the basic but functional Media player. I hope they sort out the car mode. They made some really silly decisions with it like not disabling the phone lock screen, completely ruins it's usefulness when driving.

A Scotland

June 2, 2010, 5:52 pm

I am an iphone user and have been watching Android since its first release. I must admit that I thought that by now it would have developed to a stage that would have persuaded me to switch but the main reason why it has not is the confusion over the OS updates and the customised network UI's.

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