So far, Google’s been pretty pro-active about releasing OS upgrades to its Android operating system, but the market has been less than generous with delays from carriers and manufacturers in releasing those updates to already existing devices. Additionally, sometimes there hasn’t been follow-through on the part of Google’s partners to bring devices up to date. Hopefully, with Google’s VP of Engineering for Android, Andy Rubin, going on record to say that upgrades to the OS will happen once a year instead of twice annually will make it easier for manufacturers to keep their devices up to date. The result, hopefully, will mean less fragmentation.
While fragmentation is a term that’s been loosely thrown around in the Android space, there is cause for concern and confusion with multiple versions of Google’s OS on the market. For the average consumer not knowing about which OS version is pre-loaded onto their device, Google may face the burden of explaining why certain features–like Android’s Google Maps with Navigation–would work on a certain device (those running Android 1.6 or later) and not other devices. Additionally, some apps on Android Market require newer versions of the OS. The question of OS upgrade then isn’t really about hardware as many current devices have processors and hardware specs that are capable of a newer OS. Moreover, with Android being a “free” OS for manufacturers sans any customizations, not offering Android upgrades may be more gauche for Android rather than on Windows Mobile devices where a license costs manufacturers money.
According to Rubin, “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.”
(via: Android and Me)