Nov 15 AT 12:11 PM Nick Sarafolean 71 Comments

Google needs to take control of updates

Android 4.4 KitKat

We could ask, but we already know the answer. Almost all of you have, at some time, felt the pain of waiting for an update to your phone or tablet. That’s the unpredictability of updates for Android.

You don’t ever know what you’re going to get when it comes to Android updates. Even when you think that you’re making the safe purchase by getting a Nexus device, you still might not be completely satisfied when it comes to OS updates. Of course, the Nexus devices do have a much better track record that other Android devices. Why is this so? It’s simple, really. Google has control over them.

Remember the Galaxy Nexus on Verizon? Or even the one on Sprint? If you do, then you’ll remember the public outcry that accompanied them when the time came for Android updates. While consumers bought the Galaxy Nexus for a pure, Android experience and fast updates, they were instead met with snail-slow updates and, shockingly, carrier bloatware.

Needless to say, many of those Galaxy Nexus owners left their respective carriers.

We can also look to other mainstream phones on the market to see examples of this. For example, the HTC One S. HTC sent everyone up in arms about the One S when they made the decision not to issue the One S with an update to Android 4.2. After just one update to Android 4.1, the phone was dead in the water. It was a sad fate for the surprising number of One S owners out there.

Fast forward to present day, and we can see that HTC may actually be learning their lesson from it. They’ve now promised that their flagship, the HTC One, will receive an update to Android 4.4 KitKat within 90 days. That’s surprisingly quick for HTC, considering their past record. But we’re not letting them off that easily; we need to see this come into play first.

More importantly, we need to see it take place on the carrier models of the One. While several have pledged to get the update rolled out in 90 days, we’ve seen similar situations in the past that have quickly turned into calamities when the updates get delayed.

But the solution to these slow updates boils down to one simple fact: Google needs to take control of updates.

Look at Motorola. Before their buyout by Google, they didn’t have a great history with timely updates. Since being bought out by Google, and the transformation into a different sort of company, we’re seeing much faster updates as well as nearly stock software with just a few very useful features thrown in.

We fully understand that half the beauty of Android is that the software is customizable, that you do have choice. But the complaint of slow updates is constantly regurgitated by consumers, and the best solution is to allow Google to have more control over the updates. Manufacturers can be slow with updates on their own, but they really get slowed down when the update gets to the carriers for testing.

It really wouldn’t be too hard and could actually provide a better experience for the consumer. Manufacturers might need to tone down their software a bit to make it slightly closer to stock Android, which in turn would give consumers a more consistent feel across Android devices. This toning down of software would also make it easier for Google and the manufacturer to quickly work together on an update.

I could be wrong, though. Maybe I am. Do you think so? Or do you think that this is a viable option that could really help consumers?

A nerd at heart, Nick is an average person who has a passion for all things electronic. When not spending his time writing about the latest gadgets, Nick enjoys reading, dabbling in photography, and experimenting with anything and everything coffee. Should you wish to know more about him, you can follow him on Twitter @Zricon15.

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