Google’s Android team held a fireside chat this afternoon at the company’s big I/O developers conference where it took questions from developers about working with the mobile operating system.
One developer addressed one of the biggest problems still facing Android today –– timely software updates with the latest features. He asked what the Android team is doing to make sure the latest operating system updates make it to your phone.
In short, Google doesn’t have a solid answer.
One member of the team said part of the problem is they have to play with Android’s code so it’s easier for manufacturers like Samsung, LG, HTC, etc. to add it to their devices. Matias Duarte, the head of user experience for Android, emphasised that relationships with manufacturers are still very important to Google.
For example, Duarte pointed out that Google worked with Samsung to make a special version of the new Galaxy S4 smartphone that will run a clean version of Android and will receive timely software updates.
But it’s clear things aren’t going to get better any time soon. At the same I/O conference two years ago, Google said it was forming an “Update Alliance” with its Android hardware and carrier partners to ensure that devices support the latest and greatest features for at least 18 months. None of the parties involved have been able to live up to that promise, and most Android phones are running versions of the software that are at least two years old.