These apps essentially extend the functionality of the Android operating system itself. Compare that to Google, Market, Voice, and Maps. All these are apps that sit on top of the OS. The new “intents” and “Voice Actions” are deeper than just apps. They bring new functionality to the OS itself.
One has to wonder, is Google moving OS updates to the Market as a means of distribution?
If so, this essentially removes the carrier (T-Mobile, Verizon, Sprint, etc.) and hardware manufacturer (Samsung, HTC, Motorola, etc.) from the update cycle. Of course, going from Android 2.x to 3.x won’t likely come over the Market, but updating components that were formerly considered a part of the operating system itself could.
When coupled with Froyo’s Automatic Update feature, we’re could be seeing the foundation of a fundamental shift being laid.
What do you think? Is Google deliberate decoupling features from the OS to help level the “fragmented” playing field? Are they doing so to loose the chains of the carriers/manufacturers? Or is this just something cool and fun?