Today we are getting plenty of answers to plenty of questions we had surrounding the Galaxy S4 and HTC One Google Edition devices. Earlier we found out that the source code will be available. But the factory images and proprietary binaries will not be available. So basically it's like a CDMA Nexus device, right?
According to Anandtech, Google will not directly handle software updates for the Google Play Edition devices. Basically, Google supplies the builds to OEMs when new versions of Android are out, which is what usually happens. And whatever the OEMs decide to do with them is completely up to them. Here's what Google said about updates for the HTC One and Galaxy S4:
On background, we will be working very closely with Samsung and HTC on future software updates for these devices and they will receive software updates shortly after a new version is released.
So what exactly does this mean for consumers? Well it means while you have a stock Android device, your updates are still with the manufacturer. This is where the Nexus family still has the edge. As it gets updates directly from Google, instead of Samsung, HTC or any other OEM.
Next on the docket is that Google will not be hosting factory images and binaries like they do for the Nexus 4, Nexus 7 and Nexus 10. Now if you remember the Galaxy Nexus (Toro and Toroplus) they didn't have the binaries for quite a while. Something like 6-8 months after release. The Toroplus didn't have any factory images up (as long as I owned it, up until the Nexus 4 launched). So these are very much like CDMA devices. Which we pretty much figured, but we now have it as concrete information.
So the bottom line is if you bought one of these devices for the specs and stock Android, it might not be exactly what you wanted or were looking for.