Jul 01 AT 10:36 AM Dima Aryeh 23 Comments

Should Google release betas for new Android versions?

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Months before the release of a new iOS version, Apple releases betas to developers. When installing a beta, many apps will simply be broken and won’t work. But that’s the point: as it’s only available to developers, they will use it to fix their apps. When the official update rolls out, people won’t have nearly as many issues.

Not only that, but Apple gets feedback from real users and can fix bugs and issues with its software. It’s a valuable way of gathering testers without paying them a penny. And people love being beta testers. How does Google’s approach to new Android versions stack up?

When Google releases a new version of Android, it’s only available to a small fraction of Android users. So if stuff is broken, it’s not that bad. However, every Android release comes with some big bugs and many apps just won’t work with it. Nexus users have to wait weeks or even months for everything to be ironed out. How long did we have to wait to get December back in Android 4.2?

What if Google released betas of its new versions of Android? The company could release experimental ROMs for Nexus devices and allow people to play with them and submit feedback through a source other than the official bug tracker. Nexus users would be ecstatic to try out the latest version of Android before it’s officially released.

Plus, Google seems like the perfect company to do such a thing. Most of its products are in beta as it is, so why not release test versions of Android to their loyal crack flashers? Google has the means and won’t need to take responsibility for any problems with said test versions. And it would make a lot of people happy.

If this were the case, a lot of the bugs people experience with the Nexus devices would be gone. If a test ROM was released a month before Android 4.2 was officially rolled out, it would have been released with working Bluetooth and all twelve months intact. You can be sure that users would find these bugs in a heartbeat, and Google would have plenty of time to fix them. It honestly seems like Google has a pretty bad testing department, so outsourcing it to the people to do it for free would be a fantastic idea for us all.

Offloading a significant amount of work to the Android community could allow Google to make Android even better. Android gets better with every update, and we’re greatly looking forward to Key Lime Pie. But if Google could provide loyal Nexus owners with a beta ROM or two, we would be grateful and would gladly help with bug fixing. Hell, our developers fix Google bugs as it is.

Another huge advantage of this is that developers can fix their apps before the official update. When the updates roll around, a lot of apps break and become unusable for days or even weeks. With an experimental ROM, developers could get their apps working with the new version of Android before release. It would save a lot of people some serious headaches.

I know many of you don’t like taking a page from Apple’s book, but no one can deny that Apple got a lot right. This is one of those things: providing its developers with the opportunity to both report bugs and fix their apps before release.

Dima Aryeh is a Russian obsessed with all things tech. He does photography, is an avid phone modder (who uses an AT&T Galaxy Note II), a heavy gamer (both PC and 360), and an aspiring home mechanic. He is also an avid fan of music, especially power metal.

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