Once-yearly Android updates promises Rubin

Chris Davies - Jun 1, 2010, 10:40 am CDT
Once-yearly Android updates promises Rubin

Android head-honcho Andy Rubin has outlined his expectations for future platform updates, pushing the smartphone OS from the roughly bi-yearly release pattern it’s now settling into, to a once-yearly cycle more like Apple’s iPhone.  Rubin bills the decision as one primarily to satisfy developers, and help them drive Android innovation rather than being forced to play catch-up with Google’s engineers.

“So we launched it, and from our internal 0.8, we got to 1.0 pretty quickly, and we went through this iteration cycle. You’ve noticed, probably, that that’s slowed down a little bit. Our product cycle is now, basically twice a year, and it will probably end up being once a year when things start settling down, because a platform that’s moving — it’s hard for developers to keep up. I want developers to basically leverage the innovation. I don’t want developers to have to predict the innovation” Andy Rubin, Google

Google has been criticised in recent months for risking Android platform fragmentation, as various OEMs push out devices based on different versions of the OS.  Earlier builds, for which manufacturers developed custom UIs like HTC Sense and Motorola MOTOBLUR, are often still languishing with 1.x versions of the software as the companies work to bring their modifications up to speed with the fast-moving OS releases.

For consumers it might mean more stability and less of that nagging feeling that the phone you buy today could be running outdated software by next week.  Still, with Android fans perhaps growing used to getting a regular feed of new functionality, cutting that down to a once-yearly drip might prove frustrating.

“We’re at about 4 billion cell phones. About 1.4 billion Internet connected PCs — that includes desktop and laptops and everything else. Like 1.2 billion automobiles. Some 800 million TVs. And it’s like, “OK, let’s target the top four.” Let’s do everything we can to get the big ones. Remember, our business is volume, because it’s an advertising business and we want to delight a lot of people. And how do you delight a lot of people? You get in the products that they use every day” Andy Rubin, Google

[via Android Community]

Must Read Bits & Bytes