Many people were expecting the a new version of Android to be released at this years I/O developer conference at The Moscone Centre in San Francisco; either an incremental update to Jelly Bean (Android 4.3), or a completely new version of Android (Android 5.0). As we all start to take stock of everything that happened at I/O, including all of the new announcements to things like Google Play services, Google Play Games and the new Android Studio, I would say that Google actually updated Android, without releasing a new version of Android.
Why would Google do this? They would do this simply because it provides a solution to Android’s fragmentation problems, which is most likely why they also unveiled the Samsung Galaxy S4 ‘Google Edition’ which is essentially a Samsung Galaxy S4, with stock Android, so that many users, particularly developers, can use the latest hardware while still getting that ‘Nexus experience’, as well as those all important updates, if and when they do eventually arrive.
Getting back to the updates announced at I/O, you can see that Google wanted to update as many devices as possible to the latest products and services in their ecosystem, without having to go through carriers. To say that doing so would be a Herculean update is an understatement, and the chances are that unless you have a Nexus device you probably aren’t running the latest version of Android (which is 4.2.2).
By doing what Google have done, they have pretty much ‘updated’ most Android devices out there, not by a major firmware upgrade, but by updates on the app side of things. Most Android users can now access those services announced last week, including Hangours, Google Play Music All Access (in the US), Google Play Games and search improvements.
Does this end Android’s fragmentation problems? Probably not, and chances are that unless you get a new device or apply a custom ROM, then you won’t receive an update to Android 4.3 when it does arrive. However with the new updates on the app side of things, especially what Sundar Pichai called ‘the best of Google’, it might not be worth the effort of doing either.
What do you think of the latest updates to Google’s services? Let us know in the comments.