By Stephen Schenck | July 3, 2013 7:05 AM
Where the heck is Android 4.3?
And no, I’m not referring to the mountains of evidence in server logs, nor the very-legitimate-looking leaked ROM that surfaced last week: I mean where the heck is Google when it comes to delivering this update to Android users at large? Or, at least getting the ball rolling and making things official, while dropping a few updates for Nexus models?
Instead, Android 4.3 almost seems like it’s drifting away from us. In spite of those recent developments, there’s no immediately obvious path for Google to take so far as any launch intentions go – Google I/O 2013 came and went without any 4.3 announcement – and I’m starting to feel a little concerned, a little anxious, and maybe more than a little bit confused about just what Google’s up to with its Android 4.3 plans.
25 Or 6 To 4.3
First up, there’s the Android 4.3/5.0 issue. While 5.0 pops up in rumors from time to time, the evidence thus far has been pointing to development on Android 4.3. Part of this may be due to naming issues, as even though the next big Android release will be known as Key Lime Pie by most accounts, so far 4.3 has remained attached to the Jelly Bean name.
That’s led to the theory that Android 4.3 might be Google’s summer release – one last hurrah for the 4.x bloodline – followed by Android 5.0 closer to the end of the year, maybe arriving along with the follow-up to the Nexus 4.
At first, that sounded perfectly reasonable, but every day that passes had me placing more and more doubt on it. Mainly, I think that’s because Google really wants to avoid a quick one-two punch of Android releases, barely giving sluggish OEMs and carriers time to react.
Now, had Android 4.3 arrived last month, I might still be buying that whole idea, but when exactly might it make its debut now?
It may not be the official company line, but Google sure has a habit of attaching significant Android releases to hardware launches. We saw Android 2.3 and the Nexus S, Android 4.0 and the Galaxy Nexus, Android 4.1 and the Nexus 7, and Android 4.2 and the Nexus 4. Even if Google isn’t compelled to follow that pattern, the smart money would be betting that it will – so where’s the hardware?
Well, there are a few candidates that make sense. Another Nexus tablet could be a possibility, and there have been a number of rumors about a new version of the Nexus 7 – along with mention that the tablet might arrive running Android 4.3.
That’s all fine, but despite the occasional rumor about new hardware, there hasn’t been any of those kind of late-stage rumors where we start getting into launch details; where and when would Google do this? I/O was a big missed opportunity, and we’ve yet to hear of any upcoming Google event that might prove to be the right venue. Sure, there’s always the IFA in a couple months, but then we get into that 4.3/5.0 issue I mentioned – if 4.3 drops in September, there’s no way we’re seeing 5.0 for a year-end Nexus phone.
It might be slightly breaking with tradition, but what if Google launched Android 4.3 alongside Motorola’s Moto X? As we’ve seen from that first Moto X ad, that new Motorola logo is already in use, playing-up how it’s now owned by Google. Perhaps using the Moto X to introduce the world to Android 4.3 could be a fitting gesture to “welcome Motorola to the family” of sorts.
And really, there is some precedent for this: remember, Android 3.0 Honeycomb launched on the Motorola Xoom.
If I had to hitch my Android 4.3 wagon to a star right now, I’d go with that Moto X idea. At least that model is nice and public, and a forthcoming release is assured.
The Assimilation Solution
There is one other theory I’ve been kicking around. I don’t feel particularly strongly that it’s on the right track, but it might just solve a number of problems: what if there is no Android 4.3?
I mean – clearly Google’s been working on 4.3, but what if it never releases it, and delays implementation of all those changes until 5.0? Frankly, from what we’ve been able to glean from the leaked ROM, there’s not a heck of a lot to look forward to in 4.3. And remember at Google I/O how the company made such a big focus on delivering new features as services, rather than new builds of the platform?
What if Google had been planning to launch 4.3 last month, but decided to shelve it as it shifts focus to Android 5.0, simultaneously giving OEMs some more Jelly Bean catch-up time?
In the end, my doubts outweigh my curiosity – were Google to do this, it would seriously cheese-off manufacturers who may have been preparing hardware with the intent of launching it with 4.3 on board.
So, what are you going to do, Google? The ball’s in your court. Are you going to surprise us with a sudden announcement any day now? Whatever your plans are, sooner rather than later would be much appreciated.