Linked by Thom Holwerda on Fri 29th Jun 2012 20:50 UTC, submitted by fran
Google "Google is making another attempt to fix the Android update problem at the Google I/O conference. The plan is to give smartphone, tablet and chip manufacturers earlier opportunities to adapt their current and new hardware to forthcoming Android versions. Google said that it hopes that this will allow users to receive their updates faster. To achieve this, Android executive Hugo Barra announced a 'Platform Development Kit'." I have my doubts.
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It's a classic issue that mobile operators want to support each new model of Android phone for as short a time as possible. Part of this is cost, but the ludicrous number of Android models they release per year (HTC anyone? Surely the worst offender here) doesn't help either.

With an enormous number of barely-different models in their range, the easiest way to cut support costs is to only selectively upgrade a few models in a timely fashion and leave the others on a dog slow timetable or not upgrade at all.

I think Google is missing a trick here - the fastest way to get upgrades to end-users is surely to ship a virtually unmodified (apart from maybe a custom boot screen and custom background image/live wallpaper) Android release?

However, foolish mobile operators think that layering on their own custom UI with a trowel improves things - maybe Google should incentivise them to not do that? E.g. Pay each mobile operator a big bonus if they ship as close to a vanilla Android as possible (the closer they get, the bigger the bonus)?

It's a win-win for the mobile operators - they have to do less work for each upgrade, they get money from Google for the less work and they get the near-vanilla release out quicker to the public, which in turn encourages earlier/faster sales = profit.

Oh and Google should enforce a rule that if any device is released with a new authorised Android version (call that V+1), then all future new Android models from any company must ship with either version V or V+1. The fact that we're still seeing brand new Android 2.3.X models being released just as 4.1 is coming out really gets my goat.

Edited 2012-06-29 22:22 UTC

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