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Android Headliner: Trying To Make Sense Of Nexus Android 5.1 OTA Updates

March 21, 2015 - Written By John Anon

If you are a Nexus device owner then it has been a good week for you. While manufacturers still have some of their devices waiting to receive their Android 5.0 (Lollipop) update. All you Nexus owners have seen your devices already being bumped up to Android 5.1. The latest major(ish) update in the Lollipop saga. Well, that is unless you own a Nexus 9. To be fair, the Nexus 7 (2013) and Nexus 4 are still waiting too. As is the Nexus 7 2012 LTE, but we all remember how long the LTE Nexus 7 2012 took to get bumped up to 5.0. However, the Nexus 9 is not quite like those other Nexi. The Nexus 9 is a new player to the market. Announced and unveiled at the same time as the Nexus 6, this is their current flagship tablet.

So, anyone owning a Nexus 9, might, at the moment be a little bit annoyed. And with good reason. You go out, spend your hard-earned money on the latest Nexus tablet with the latest Nexus hardware and yet, you are not running the latest software. Yes, you are running Lollipop, but you are running 5.0. And in Nexus land, that’s ancient, old hat, something for the other manufacturers to argue over. Not the android elite.

This does lead to an interesting question about Nexus updating though. Why is it so complicated? Why have Google, the master of everything android, not figured out a more unifying way to offer ‘their’ devices a better way to be updated. Yes, it takes time to port android over to the different yada yada yada. But, is that not for non-Nexus devices. For instance, Samsung needs to smother android with TouchWiz. Likewise, HTC with Sense. They also need to allow AT&T (and the likes) to throw on their bloatware and other commercial partner apps. But none of that applies here. We are talking stock android, on unlocked Nexus devices. So what’s with the wait? Why does Lollipop on the Nexus 9 take much longer than it did on the Nexus 7 (2012), which has already seen the factory image for 5.1 go live, at least the Wi-Fi version has.

So, it seems there is no obvious logic in the way in which Nexus devices receive their updates or see their factory images. It is literally an unknown. You might be one of the first, this time round and then one of the last, next time round. One would think, a company like Google and their android team, might have figured out a more effective way to distribute the updates. Maybe an update tool of some sort. However, that is not the case. Unlike Samsung’s crazy variance of devices, there are not that many Nexus devices out there. With such a small portfolio and especially with a device as new as the Nexus 9, one might assume this would be one of the first devices to see an update. Why is there not a designated roll-out day? Where on that date, you head over to your Nexus update app (yes, why is there not a Nexus update app?) and you all get your downloads together. Servers will be busy, but hey, that’s the life of a server. This kind of approach seems like a more straightforward option than having to constantly take part in a Nexus rodeo update month. Then again, nothing is totally straight forward in the android world, is it?