Linked by Thom Holwerda on Sat 18th Jan 2014 20:00 UTC

To be sure, it's no magic solution to the gargantuan task of moving the entire Android ecosystem forward. And the update situation for non-flagship devices remains something of a crapshoot. But it's a start, and a big step in the right direction. And as we move from Jelly Bean into the KitKat era, it's enough to give us some hope for the future of Android updates.

Read on to find out why.

Still Android's biggest weakness. Baby steps are made, but a solution there is not.

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This shouldn't be a problem
by BenGildenstein on Sat 18th Jan 2014 20:36 UTC
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A solution is reasonably obvious (though not necessarily straight forward), and has existed for decades: Modularization.

There are many aspects of the Android system (including the core OS APIs) that should exist in "userland" and can be made 100% modular and securely update-able through the play store service. The same can be said for kernel-modules that are direct-from-the-OEM.

Now Google may desire to withhold updates until they pass very rigorous automated tests to determine proper functioning, and have fallbacks if (for some reason) an update is still breaking a users system (ie. revert to last working state).

Further more, it would be possible to open a "Beta" branch of the OS if secrecy isn't too large of a concern. People like me would GLADLY forgo a bit (or a lot) of stability to be on the cutting edge and report bugs early before it hitting the stable branch. Bug reporting can be automated as part of the terms.

This may not apply to all code, but things like a UI library, or image/video codec support clearly do not need to ship exclusively as firmware. As long as the interfaces comply to a very tightly defined specification, I would expect that the vast majority of system-critical code can exist outside of an OS update.

This will not apply to all devices where proprietary drivers may be the limiting factor for functionality. But many of the features of Android (at least those that consumers often care about most -- eg. a new camera app interface, new launcher fonts, and transparent nav bars) are not dependant on these drivers. And the OS is largely platform agnostic which should make many of these features trivial.

Android should be rolling out updates to the latest version in days and not years.

I suspect that the idea of automated updates are not attractive to OEMs, which are Google's customers in that they ultimately buy Android licences. I should state that this is purely speculation, and is not based on any evidence.

Edited 2014-01-18 20:39 UTC

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