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

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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Importance
by jessesmith on Sat 18th Jan 2014 20:44 UTC
jessesmith
Member since:
2010-03-11

The article covers a lot of ground, but one thing I feel is missing is why it is so important for users to be able to update their phones to the latest Android release. I've talked to a handful of Android users and most of them don't know which version of the OS they are running, let alone what updates might be available. Heck, I have an Android device (running 4.0) and I'm not particularly interested in upgrading. I've played with the latest releases and there isn't any killer feature there I need.

I agree it would be nice to have the option of upgrading available, especially for people who like to tinker, but given the very short life cycle of most mobile devices, is an upgrade really required? Most people will upgrade anyway for the hardware improvements.

Not saying upgrades are bad or un-needed, just wondering how many people would really take the upgrade path and (assuming they do) how many bricked devices might result from complications? I get a lot of panicked messages when iOS updates come out from my iDevice friends and I really don't want to field those same issues with Android users too.

Edited 2014-01-18 20:46 UTC

Reply Score: 4

RE: Importance
by WereCatf on Sat 18th Jan 2014 21:51 in reply to "Importance"
WereCatf Member since:
2006-02-15

The article covers a lot of ground, but one thing I feel is missing is why it is so important for users to be able to update their phones to the latest Android release.


Well, improvements to security immediately spring to mind. I know, I know; most people don't really care, they don't understand the concept of security, but then again, they don't even have to, they can still benefit from any improvements there. Any improvements there have a beneficial secondary effect, too: they may help in stunting the growth of Android-based botnets, spam-networks and the likes, reducing the hassles the rest of us have to deal with.

Reply Parent Score: 5

RE: Importance
by WorknMan on Sat 18th Jan 2014 23:41 in reply to "Importance"
WorknMan Member since:
2005-11-13

Heck, I have an Android device (running 4.0) and I'm not particularly interested in upgrading. I've played with the latest releases and there isn't any killer feature there I need.


IMO, the only killer feature in 4.1 (assuming your phone ran respectably with 4.0 like mine did) was Google Now, and I mean just the text to speech part. After that, there's really not much I care about. My Moto X was updated from 4.3 to 4.4 and except for some UI tweaks, I barely noticed. My Galaxy Note 10.1 2014 is still running 4.3, and I honestly don't care if it ever gets 4.4. If there's ever a major security issue with older versions that's causing lots of headaches for consumers, I think most of the vendors will push out a fix via a minor update.

The reason for this is that Google moving a lot of the functionality to Play services have made the OS updates very inconsequential, and that's great. Now I don't have to choose between an OEM device and having the latest version of Android, because it's just not important to me anymore. It used to be that all the cool shite was in the stock ROM and OEM stuff was nothing but bloatware. But now the OEMs are doing cool stuff -- my Moto X is chock full of features that should've been in 4.4 but wasn't, and some of that functionality is hard (if not impossible) to replicate with 3rd party apps in the Play store. And if you absolutely insist on having the latest and greatest, just grab a Play edition phone (if you're in the US), or a carrier version that you can mod with the PE rom.

I guess the main drawback to this is that new Android OS versions have gotten quite boring, so it's hard to get excited about them anymore.

Reply Parent Score: 3

RE[2]: Importance
by moondevil on Sun 19th Jan 2014 09:09 in reply to "RE: Importance"
moondevil Member since:
2005-07-08

I guess the main drawback to this is that new Android OS versions have gotten quite boring, so it's hard to get excited about them anymore.


The only thing that gets me exited about the new releases is OpenGL ES 3.0 support and the transition to ART, for native compiled Java.


However OpenGL ES 3.0 requires hardware and GPU manufacter support.

ART is still a maybe thing. Google will disclose more information about it at FOSDEM 2013.

But these are features normal consumers won't care at all.

Reply Parent Score: 4

RE[2]: Importance
by phoenix on Mon 20th Jan 2014 00:20 in reply to "RE: Importance"
phoenix Member since:
2005-07-11

4.3 is where Android finally became "good enough". The fixed all the jankiness in the UI, they fixed all the battery sucking wakelock issues, they improved filesystem throughput issues, they added TRIM support, the building blocks for multiple user accounts are in place. Beyond 4.3 there's not much in the way of revolutionary changes (with the possible exception of ART once it stabilises in 4.5/5.0).

However, there are *huge* changes going from pre-4.3 to 4.3.

Reply Parent Score: 4

RE[2]: Importance
by hobgoblin on Tue 21st Jan 2014 11:08 in reply to "RE: Importance"
hobgoblin Member since:
2005-07-06

Having compared a 4.0 device to a 4.1 device, i would say the real value of the higher version number is Project Butter.

Reply Parent Score: 2

RE: Importance
by Delgarde on Sun 19th Jan 2014 21:19 in reply to "Importance"
Delgarde Member since:
2008-08-19

Most people will upgrade anyway for the hardware improvements.


Don't be so sure of that. Certainly, a lot of people get into the upgrade cycle, always buying the latest and greatest.

But conversely, a lot of people don't, instead buying a device that they'll keep using for year after year, discarding only once it stops working - usually because the battery life has deteriorated to the point where it's no longer useful.

Reply Parent Score: 3

RE: Importance
by phoenix on Mon 20th Jan 2014 00:17 in reply to "Importance"
phoenix Member since:
2005-07-11

The article covers a lot of ground, but one thing I feel is missing is why it is so important for users to be able to update their phones to the latest Android release. I've talked to a handful of Android users and most of them don't know which version of the OS they are running, let alone what updates might be available. Heck, I have an Android device (running 4.0) and I'm not particularly interested in upgrading. I've played with the latest releases and there isn't any killer feature there I need.


Speed/smoothness of the UI and battery life improvements. If you haven't tried anything above 4.0, you really don't know what you are missing.

My Optimus G (the big brother to the Nexus4) shipped with 4.0.4. I rarely got a full day out of a charge, and usually only 2-2.5 hours of screen-in time.

There was an update from LG to 4.1.2. The LG features (QSlide, Eco Mode, etc) weren't that great, but the UI smoothness improvements were. Much less lag in scrolling, and could get 3 hours of screen-in time.

Installing 4.2 6 months or so after getting the phone made it feel brand new. Everything was *much* smoother, apps loaded faster, and everything benchmarked higher. Was able to get over 4 hours of screen-on time and go 50-odd hours between charges.

Installing 4.3, though, was the best. Over 6 hours of screen-on time, and over 50 hours between charges! Was looking forward to the "user profiles" and "restricted profiles" feature, but that was locked to tablets. ;)

The pattern has repeated for every forum on XDA I've read through (4.0 --> 4.1 --> 4.2 --> 4.3 leads to UI smoothness and battery life improvements). It's worth upgrading for those alone.

Reply Parent Score: 4

RE[2]: Importance
by hobgoblin on Tue 21st Jan 2014 11:10 in reply to "RE: Importance"
hobgoblin Member since:
2005-07-06

4.1 was the big jump, as that was when Google put Project Butter into the wild.

Reply Parent Score: 2