In a recent interview with Mercury News, Google’s VP of Engineering for Android, Andy Rubin, acknowledged that the current pace of Android OS development is not sustainable long term and that they will scale back to a yearly update when “things start settling down.”
Rubin explains in the interview that the speed of updates to date has been due to their need to bring the “product up to market spec.”
OEMs and developers will likely be the most gladdened by this news, but users will hopefully realize that long term this is necessary for the well-being of the platform. Talk of fragmentation constantly dogs Android and it will not stop until there are at most two versions of the OS, whereas the release of Froyo has us sitting again at four.
I suspect we all loved watching Google I/O and hearing of the innovation coming in Froyo and beyond — but each time there is a new OS release the joy is always tempered by the question of when current Android device owners are going to actually see these updates.
Some lag is inevitable in an update process that involves so many players, but it would be more tolerable if you didn’t have to see three more versions of the OS ship before you finally managed to get your update, just in time to be once again passed up by the newest version of the OS.
App developers are also likely as weary of hearing about their apps only supporting the most recent versions of the OS as users are of finding that the latest and greatest app they heard about doesn’t support their version of the OS. This should be a win for both sides of that equation.
Do you agree that this is a necessary move for Android and if you think that a year is too long to wait between updates what do you think the ideal update timeline would be?
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 RubinVP of Engineering for Android at Google