Android Central

The case for sticking with Jelly Bean until 2013

Android followers, more than most smartphone communities, are constantly focused on the future, be it the next major OS update, or the next big smartphone from HTC, Samsung or Motorola. So with Android 4.1 Jelly Bean due to be open-sourced in a matter of weeks, some are already pontificating on what might be coming in the next version of Android, rumored to be nicknamed “Key Lime Pie.”

Conventional wisdom suggests that, just like Gingerbread in 2010 and ICS in 2011, the next version of Android could make an appearance sometime in the fourth quarter of 2012. But the current state of the Android ecosystem indicates that this might not be the best course of action for Google, its OEMs or their customers. In this article, we’ll take a brief look at why Google should stick with Android 4.1 until 2013, and push Android forward with hardware, not software later in the year.

Android is in a great place in 4.1

Jelly Bean is the best version of Android yet. Sure, every version of Android is the best yet at launch. But in Jelly Bean, Google has directed a laser-like focus on a key weakness of its platform compared to the Apple and Microsoft-based competition. Android 4.1 saw Google “declare war on lag,” and employ a number of high-tech tricks to vastly improve the speed and responsiveness of the OS. On the Galaxy Nexus, the result is striking -- update to Jelly Bean, and it’s like a different phone. If Android can deliver this kind of performance on the Galaxy Nexus’s year-old internals, just imagine the kind of speed we can look forward to once this year’s HTC and Samsung flagships get their updates.

In addition, a wealth of new APIs have been introduced in Jelly Bean, and not all of them have fully fleshed-out UIs (one example being the new app stack navigation stuff). So it's possible that new user-facing "features" like this could be switched on through a minor OTA, or a new Google app in the Play Store. Speaking of which, it's also worth considering that almost all of the major Google apps -- the latest being the default browser, Chrome -- can now be updated separately via Google Play without a major firmware update.

In other words, Android is in a great place right now, and as such there’s no need to rush towards the next major release before the end of 2012.

Jelly Bean is very new, and updates take time

As we’re all aware, manufacturers and carriers will need time to get Jelly Bean out onto their armada of existing Gingerbread and ICS devices. That process starts when Jelly Bean is open-sourced, something which is expected to take place in mid-July. Were Google to deliver the usual one-two punch of a new Nexus and a new platform revision in Q4, it’d mean putting out the next version of Android a mere four months after Jelly Bean, just as the 4.1 updates are starting to roll out. (And spare a thought for owners of the three CDMA Nexus phones, which have lagged far behind their more developer-friendly GSM cousins.)

The mobile world moves quickly, but Google would do itself no favors by delivering this kind of lightning-fast turnaround on a major new OS version. Ultimately, it’d only frustrate manufacturers and end-users alike by perpetually keeping them one or two platform versions behind the bleeding edge. Google has to be aware that slow update times for existing handsets are a serious issue, and it seems it’s trying to address them with initiatives like the PDK (Platform Development Kit). Announced at Google I/O, this gives manufacturers early access to portions of code to assist in porting it to their own hardware. In spite of this, updates still take time, and it’d make no sense for Google to exacerbate things by prematurely obsoleting Jelly Bean.

But that doesn’t mean we won't see a new Nexus smartphone built from the ground up around Android 4.1...

Android Central

The next Nexus can compete on hardware

Android needs a new Google-branded hero device to go up against the iPhone 5 this fall and into the holiday season, not to mention the impending onslaught of Windows Phone 8 devices. If last year (and the year before it) is any indication, that’ll be a new Nexus phone. Maybe we'll even see multiple Nexii, as has been rumored, although we’re still not 100 percent convinced of that. Regardless of whether a new version of Android appears, we can be pretty sure that a fourth-generation Nexus will arrive later this year, designed by Google and one of the leading smartphone manufacturers.

This year’s Google I/O conference left us in no doubt that “Nexus” is now a mainstream consumer brand. Sure, Nexus phones and tablets will always be unlockable, and we’ll be able to hack away at them as we always have. But as Google’s focus has moved to its Google Play content ecosystem, Nexus has changed from a range of niche developer devices to a brand which, in the company’s own words, means “the best of Google.”

This makes hardware more important than ever, and given the Nexus brand’s renewed importance to Google, we can’t imagine them leaving the year-old Gnex to fly the Nexus flag against the iPhone 5. So there’ll be a new Nexus, and we think it’ll be differentiated by hardware more than software. Naturally, we’d expect improved internals, build quality, display and camera tech, and Jelly Bean should come into its own on such a flagship Google phone. Incidentally, the next iPhone looks set to follow a similar pattern, with hardware features like a new chassis design and widescreen display likely to turn more heads than any software improvements in iOS 6.

But affordability will also be key, especially if Google intends to continue selling directly to consumers through its Play devices store. And so if earlier rumors of multiple Nexus phones come to pass, it’s possible we may see both entry-level and high-end Nexii at varying price points before the year’s out. Another possibility is that Google may reposition the Galaxy Nexus as a budget offering.

Android Central

Jelly Bean is a big enough deal

More updates are almost always a good thing, and with Jelly Bean's status as a "point release," it's understandable to see some looking past it to the next major version. But the 4.1 update is of incredible importance to those who care about having a fluid, responsive UI that's on par with the latest devices from Apple, and that alone makes it a big deal. Remember that more than half of active devices remain on Android 2.3 Gingerbread or older versions, then consider how momentous an upgrade to 4.1 would be for them. We'd rather Google gave everyone a chance to catch up and enjoy the buttery goodness of Jelly Bean, even if it means waiting a little longer for a slice of Key Lime Pie.

 

Reader comments

Why we don't need another version of Android this year

138 Comments

Should think outside the box more. A few things that Android still needs to improve:

1) The Built-in auto-brightness doesn't work for a lot of people, too bright, too dim for some, no way to calibrate.

2) More advanced camera settings like long exposure shutter speeds, even aperture for some hardwares.

3) Improve battery management more, rumors of nexus 7 draining battery too fast even on JB.

4) Improve readability/contrast than default ICS color scheme. While prettier than GB, it offers less usability. The blue on black text is hard to read, some of the grey text on black background is just as bad.

5) Faster real-time voice handling so VOIP apps don't have to struggle with echo cancelling.

This literally has nothing to do with "thinking outside the box" and everything to do with not irritating your partners and customers even more than they already are. There are a ton of places where Android can be improved, but that isn't the point.

First, there is no aperture on cell phone cameras. There is no Iris, the lens is always wide open. There is no shutter either. Its all done digitally and there are a dozen camera apks in the market that will give you features that are not present in the default camera.

There's also no problem with void. I use it all the time. CsipSimple nightlies.

And color schemes can be changed without a whole new release.
The default of ANYTHING is never going to please everyone, so it makes no point to demand a perfect default color scheme, or camera, or brightness. Get the aps that supply the "defaults" that you want.

Maybe be more accepting of skins too. In android, you can have your cake and eat it too.

1. who cares feature. Dont like, theres free apps that can adjust it and manage it better. its not a priority feature.
2. dont like stock? get an app that does.
3. I agree
4. ICS scheme is completely fine, in fact I love this scheme better than any skin i've ever used. I have no problem on my nexus.
5. never had a problem with voice handling.

This is how it should work.

One major update and hardware update a year.
This way Google can keep the Nexus brand a premier item.

If you decide to buy anything except a Nexus you should have the understanding that you will never be truly up to date.

If Google can follow this model the Nexus brand will sell better than iPhones.

Sorry OEM phone lovers. Its really time to ROOT.

From your friend DWR_31, a.k.a. (RootUserKernels)

Who did you hear that from? ICS is a lot faster than Gingerbread, at least for HTC and Motorola. (I haven't tried a Samsung phone that has been upgraded) And from what Razr owners are saying, ICS has increased their battery life.

With an unofficial upgrade to my Samsung Galaxy S (mid-2010!!! phone), ICS made battery life much more useful than GB or Froyo ever did. A lot smoother too, and that's just on 512 mb of RAM!

Sure, nothing compared to the SIII in my hands now, but each step of the OS has been vastly forward, even on older phones that "can't" handle it.

On my SGS2 ICS has basically crushed any usability. The battery is terrible. It doesn't make 12 hours with minimal use!! It freezes upon awake. I do not understand an "update" that makes the phone worse. All the nerds here ask about all these features. Just make the friggin' thing last!!

In all fairness the problems you are stating are NOT Google's fault or the fault of the OS itself, there Samsung's! Echoed in the latest SGS3 update that was bricking devices left right and centre, this is the price you pay for purchasing a device that has been messed with and skinned within an inch of its battery life. Try rooting and flashing a custom ROM and I bet your problems are either solved or stunted. There are pro's and cons to both rooting and not doing so, so I urge you to make an INFORMED decision before taking the plunge (DO YOUR RESEARCH). I rooted my old HTC Desire after an update slowed it to a snail's pace and it improved beyond even the stock Sence ROM it was shipped with. I will now ONLY purchase GED's (Google Experience Devices) this ensures me that my software updates are fast reliable and have not been messed with by the manufacturer or your network provider, as they come directly from Google as they are released. I now no longer need to mess with my devices unless I do so wish.

Then you were *very* mis-informed. My 3vo was already pretty fast, but there was a little bit of improvement going up to ICS. And battery life is *way* better on ICS. I don't even have to use SetCPU and JuiceDefender on ICS, and I'm getting better battery life than I was when I was using those on GB.

You shouldn't let something *one* person tells you affect your opinion. Do research on the net and see what *most* people are saying. There will always be people out there who either:

1) have bad results because they're doing something wrong (or they may even have a "bad" phone and just not know it).
2) want to find *something* to complain about, so *nothing* is *ever* good enough (we all know these people).
3) lie, because they have an ulterior motive (or because they, themselves, have been fed mis-information but recite it as fact).

don't expect a similar jump in battery life updating to jelly bean, like you had going from gingerbread to ICS.

iphone-'ish smoothness may be nice and all but it will not improve your productivity by any means. ramping up the cpu on every use of the UI can prove very detrimental. just do stuff with your phone that will usually leave your phone in lower speed steps like 500 Mhz and below. those tasks include:

- reading & writing a message
- browsing pictures in the gallery
- listening to music while browsing the internet

these are tasks many people will perform very often and now think how jelly bean will ramp up the cpu clock speed to more than double of that and you can easily see how this HAS to impact battery life.

if i would have to choose between smoothness and battery life i would definitely choose battery life. we are not talking about small margins, but essentially doubling the clockspeed just to please your eyes.

i can imagine that the nexus 7 will have a mediocre to poor battery life because Jelly Bean does put tegra 3s one-companion core trick to save battery ad absurdum. Nvidia says the core will be the only active core, when low level tasks are done and by this save energy. since every touch of the screen will ramp up speed this core will only be used when the screen is off and so the effect of this "technology" will be even less effective (you have to consider that tegra3 is already worse in regards to battery life compared to the exynos even with ICS).

it's even funny how google again implemented things that are standard on samsungs touchwiz into the new jelly bean version.

Agreed! Everytime my GNex reboots itself while just sitting on my desk doing nothing, I keep wishing Google would focus more on stability and less on rushing out a new version every few months. Here's hoping JB is what ICS should have been in terms of stability.

ICS on my phone is plenty stable. I would check your LotCat and make sure it's not some 3rd-party app you've installed that's actually causing the problem. You have to remember: with as much customization is possible with these phones, not every problem you have is going to be the fault of "Android".

Also, if you're running a custom ROM, all bets are off. ROM hackers "tweak" the kernels and settings on those ROMs in ways that, which might boost speed, weren't set that way to begin with because they caused instability. This is the fault of "Android", ether. I've run ROMs in the past that randomly crashed from time-to-time and stuck with them just because they offered enough features to make me deal with it. It's all a matter of priorities.

I'm seeing a lot of my apps updating to support Jelly Bean.
In my layman's view it seems like the step up from ICS to JB wouldn't be too difficult for manufacturers?
As Alex stated the internals for the GNEX show that a lot of newer phones can easily utilize it if they have ICS. I'm on the ATT GNote and we still haven't 'officially' received ICS. This makes some speculate that perhaps Samsung will just skip it and modify the ICS build into JB.

Not going to happen. Please name me any phone on any network or my any manufacturer that has completely skipped an update just to get an older phone back on the current OS? No one with the original Galaxy S went straight to Gingerbread from Eclair, did they?

Samsung(U.S.) has continued to be one of the worst manufacturers in terms of getting their phones updated. In my opinion, they spread themselves too thin by releasing phones too quickly which causes otherwise great phones (like the Note) behind.

Many phones skipped Donut to go from Cupcake to Eclair. I can think of two off the top of my head, the Motorola Cliq (which was my first Android phone) and the Backflip.

Dell released the Streak with 1.6 (not sure which one is it : Donut or Cupcake) & they skipped Eclair (both 2.0 & 2.1) straight to FroYo .

That phone had a lot of potentials, it's a shame it didn't work out

Agree, the Dell Streak 5 had a lot of potential. I have a Note now, but before Note was released, the Streak was one of my favorites. Shame it did not catch on, it was a fine device even with 1.6. With 2.2, it was my workhorse before the Note replaced it.

As a developer, I'd love to stop coding using the 2.2 or 2.3.3 API and start using some of the new features in ICS and JB. But realistically, it will be 2 years before I can code using a higher API level. Android OS needs time to let the phone makers catch up to the current OS.

The real problem is that manufacturers & carriers don't WANT to update to the current OS. They already got your money & signed you to a contract. Updating your phone's software only makes your phone relevant longer & means it will be longer before you need to get a new one.

Manufacturers & carries could already have every single phone on ICS right now & push out JB within days of the source code being released if they wanted to, but that would require then not forcing their useless skins & bloatware on every device which only makes it take longer because they have to make sure everything plays nice.

This is exactly why I hope there are multiple Nexii released across all carriers but I doubt they will, sadly.

This is what I dont understand, LET GOOGLE FRIGGEN UPDATE YOUR PHONES. Why cant manufacturers turn this process over to google/android. they can/cant because they'd lose their bloat.

I think this is the real issue. Sure with blinding update speeds it is a hassle but ultimately what is the incentive? EVERYONE is WAY behind from their manufacturer so there is no need for the Manuf to break from the pack, spend resources, and get old phones up to speed just for the hell of it. Its a very real issue. Maybe Google just needs to imbed small code teams in each of the main manuf. that do nothing but update devices and support them. It would cost google some dollars but not that much. Hell they can spare 4 million a year I'm sure to keep some codies on task and protect their asses against fragmentation.

That's a great idea... i'm sure google could afford to help the carriers keep the phones updated. It would definately help both google and the carriers keep the users happy. The biggest issues we are having with android is the fragmentation. Google really needs to get that under raps or it's going to be too far of a gap to catch up.

Well the bigger deal would be if there were multiple Nexii snd all had pentaband HSPA+ support. I think Google and the manufacturers will do that first and then the partners will option off the hardware to the carriers. Carriers themselves getting the devices or even exclusives ruins the ecosystem.

You can do that right now. Wrap your newer feature calls in an API check block. The updates to ADT tell you when you're making a call that's isn't supported all the way back to your min SDK. Need to have something available at a higher scope? Make it an Object and cast it within an API check block. At worst if you can't remove a button or some other measure then throw up a message stating your phone doesn't support this feature. You have Actionbar Sherlock and HoloEverwhere to help with compatibility. There's no reason you can't develop for ICS and JB today.

I think that with the way hardware has been increasing up to this point, yearly software upgrades were necessary. But my guess is that for the most part, mobile phone tech won't increase quite as fast as before. It'd be a great time to use a short lag in hardware improvements to really optimize the software.

When some super quad cores start to dominate the market and more RAM gets crammed into phones Key Lime Pie would make more sense.

Btw, I'm not saying that there won't be any improvements to hardware. I just think that the focus will turn more towards the screen, camera, size, battery. I mean, our top end phones are at 1.5 GHz. I think that 2GB RAM will be standard next year, but we might have to wait a little bit for 2.0 quads and 4GB phones. I think the emphasis will be on keeping current specs but putting them into smaller packages.

Totally agree.
Processing power and memory are equivalent to laptops.

Only the wrappings need improvement, and battery life is number one, memory number two.
All of that can be done with no new OS upgrade.

I totally agree with this article. I rather Google improve on the hardware side of things this fall. The next Nexus needs a better camera for starters. All in all I'm really excited for the 4th coming.

Interesting thoughts. For the most part I agree, but I'd like to see a new feature or two added when the new Nexus is announced, just as Apple is likely to add a few more things into iOS 6 with the new iPhone. I feel like Google needs to bring something new or exclusive (for a limited period at least) for the next Nexus in terms of software, because Samsung is unlikely to out-do the S3 with the raw hardware.

IDK. I don't think the S3 is the "ultimate" phone. I *hate* that little button down in the bottom center. I just can't deal with it. So I do hope the next Nexus can compete with the S3 on hardware. There's no reason they couldn't. The GNex was the first phone to have NFC. Usually, each new version of Nexus phone has some new little piece of hardware that no other phone has yet. Here's hoping.

At the same time though nexus devices have always been mid range in comparison to the flagship devices of the major manufacturers. So i don't think it will be that amazing. Google phones seem to be made to take full advantage of the hardware inside. Much like apple.. if google thinks their OS will run just fine on a 800mhz processor then thats all they will put in it.

I've only been using Jelly Bean for a little over a week.... it already lost the "cool" factor for me...

Can't wait until the next version of Android OS is release soon.... Key Lime Pie? Candy Cane? Hot Fudge Sundae?

Crack flashers can always find something "cool" to flash and play with because of the great developer community around Android. You've barely seen the beginnings of what JB can be because the source hasn't even dropped yet. The mainstream moves at a much slower pace and I completely agree that its best for the Android ecosystem as a whole if Google takes it slow on this next release cycle.

I just got ICS on my phones, the SGS2 is running AOSP, my Rezound is running a ICS customized rom based on the latest leak (they haven't even released ICS for a phone that's only 9 months old)

I think JB is enough for the year, but realistically Google has already made their decision on this.

I've learned a few things running Android phones on both Verizon and AT&T.
CDMA phones will usaully be slower to get official updates over GSM.
GSM phones get third party updates like cyanogenmod first if ever, with the current CDMA/LTE phones on verizon, I'm not seeing any being added to cyanogenmod, which is a pity because I love Verizon LTE.

I've had enough of manufacturers bs updates and constant delay's. My next phone will be a nexus, looking forward to the fall/winter nexus hopefully.

I'd rather they push to get current phones current on 4.1 (by telling makers that they aren't releasing a new version for at least a year.)

Then spend the time making real changes to the OS. How about offering true multitasking? Develop APIs and UI options that allow for split screen capabilities? SOCs and screens are getting big enough to handle it now.

Who wouldn't want the ability to have Google Maps on the top 60% of the screen while having Google Music on the bottom 40% while roadtripping?

-Suntan

Android doesn't have "true" multitasking either. It's WAY better than what iOS has, but it isn't really proper "multitasking" in the PC sense.

The only mobile OS to have TRUE Multitasking is/was webOS. Unfortunately it is a dying/dead OS due to several massive blunders by Palm and HP.

So now that Google has snapped up most of the mindshare that was at Palm, they can start working on having REAL Multitasking, perhaps even with some kind of "card" or "window" metaphor so that you can have multiple apps all running at once and swap between them without having them crash or freeze as happens with some ICS apps currently.

A further improvement (likely for a future version of Android) would be to move completely away from the clunky old buttons by removing even the capacitive ones and going full-gesture based. Just use on-screen swipes, pinches, spreads and multi-finger taps and holds to run EVERYTHING. No need for a "home" "back" "recent apps" or even the vertical ellipsis button. Gestures for everything. Interaction would be smoother, more natural, and easier to use than trying to poke at a tiny spot on the screen, especially when the phone is on a mount in a moving car.

There is PLENTY more that can be improved in Android.

Although I am still onboard with slowing down/incrementalizing the software release cycle, if only to allow people to catch up by buying new devices. Hopefully more Nexus devices and less customized crap.

What makes you say that android does not have real multitasking? Are you confusing the webos cards to multitasking? Android does have real threads in the background if the app wants to use it and if not, the app getting suspended is perfectly fine. And I'd absolutely detest having to use a gesture for everything. In fact I want to go the reverse. I want to see the search button back and I want to see the home, back, tasks and search button all be physical. I also want to see the cool optical stroller that HTC used to have on their older phones. For driving,really we need voice controlled control of the phones and I expect that it may be a reality in a couple of years.

Unlike most of the posts here I think we definitely should have another version of the OS if there's something that can be delivered and not wait artificially just so hardware vendors can catch up. I'd certainly like to see a high end Nexus device. The first Nexus phone was the best phone at the time. All the succeeding ones were not the best in terms of the hardware. We need a Nexus device from Asus or HTC. Clearly Samsung has demonstrated that they are going to reserve their best hardware for the non Nexus line.

The bulk of phones are consistently 1 or 2 versions of Android behind, right? So maybe Google's master plan to force updates is to release new version of Android as fast as possible! That way, even if you're 2 versions behind, you're never running software that's more than a few months old! Think about it...!

I don't think google will do that. When Apple IOS 6 comes out this fall, google has to respond with features that will compete with them. I don't think the change will be as big as compared to ICS or JB, but a change nevertheless.

The whole discussion of why 'we don't need another version of google os' is not because of the release of JB, but rather the lack of support of ICS. Google has to work with the chipset manufacturers and phone makers to properly get the drivers out otherwise we won't see much support of JB or ICS for that matter.

Please Google, keep Samsung far,far away from your next Nexus device. I'd love to see what Sony or Motorola could do given the opportunity.

The thing is : If Motorola made the next Nexus everyone will scream "Conspiracy" due to the fact Google bought em

Really? That seems... High.

I've noticed that there always seems to be "that guy/gal" who goes through PILES of phones, having one after another break or be faulty in one way or another.

More often than not, It turns out that while the person may have had a legitimate issue with the FIRST phone, most, if not all subsequent issues are either "perception" issues, IE: oversensitivity to potential problems leads to escalating returned phone rates, or "use" issues. IE: user is abusing the phone but refuses to see that they are being far too rough with it, insisting wrongly that "other brand" of phone was able to take the impossible level of abuse they are dishing out.

You are on your fifth phone. You ARE "That Guy". Time to either adjust your perception or adjust your use patterns bub. The GNex has no higher failure rates than any other phone out there.

I prefer Samsung just because I prefer light phones, HTC and Moto phones are heavy bricks, made well, yes but heavier, also the Nexus is built extremely well, its that good plastic unlike that cheaper stuff on the Galaxy phones.

Just heard from the birdie that keeping in tradition with current naming conventions, Next release of Android OS will be called 'ApplePie'...lol
Agree that it is bit ridiculous that we get next release while Ice Cream is still not on majority of devices. I am all for leading/bleeding edge but...I like ApplePie...wouldn't that be fun....

buy Nexus devices... People need to stop complaining about delays when they know its going to happen. Everyone had a choice of buying nexus device and get the latest OS asap. heck i have nexus S and I am getting JB next week.
I will never buy a non Nexus device. when you go Nexus you never go back :-)

Easy to say, but hard when VZW only has had 1 nexus device, and it's been "played" with by them. I would love to know a good no contract GSM plan in the US so I can go Nexus.

There's a lot. I'd say Straight Talk (you can pick either AT&T or T-Mobile compatible SIM when you order one from them) is the best value with their $45 monthly plan. T-Mobile also has a $30 monthly plan with 5GB of high speed data(throttled after 5GB), 100 anytime minutes and unlimited texting.

Was really hoping to see something at I/O about a plan to address getting manufacturers and carriers to push the updates faster.

Hopefully, the PDK also comes with a legal contract that stipulates that receipt of the PDK requires updates of their current device lineup within a certain reasonable timeframe. Otherwise, what's the point?

Agreed I think they need to hold off on any new versions tell 2013 and give carriers a chance to get everyone they can up to date. Google also needs to take a stand and start telling the carriers off and updating there cdma nexus line because that is why I bought a nexus device under the impression that it would get updated right away.

While they may not want to release updates they should still be working on them non-stop.

I would imagine they have teams of process designers and developers already well underway on Key Lime Pie and inside Moutain View they are probably even talking about the version after that.

I think the focus on hardware is a good idea, a no brainer really. But again, given the size of Google, I would hope they use different resources to work on these projects. I am sure there is plenty of overlap but there is no reason why Google can't do all of this.

Heck, if anything, perhaps the next big update will work on streamlining the update process.

Is iOS 6 even going to be anything special? iOS 4 and 5 mostly added featured Android has had since day 1. I hear iOS 6 is going to have turn by turn nav. Where have I seen that before? Honestly it looks more like Apple has been playing catch up with Android. Not the other way around.

FYI: Chrome is NOT the default browser in Android 4.1. It'll be the default browser on the Nexus 7 and probably the Jelly Bean update for the Galaxy Nexi, but the stock Android browser continues to be the default browser and has received a few improvements in Jelly Bean. Any manufacturer that does not explicitly include Chrome in its ROMs will still have the good ole stock browser.

At I/O we were told that OTAs won't eliminate the stock browser, and it'll still be part of AOSP for those that want it. But with development on the existing Android browser all but stopping (WebView moving to Chromium-based code, for instance), I think most manufacturers will want to stick with Chrome, which is being regularly updated. If you look at ICS devices, most manufacturers have barely touched the stock browser at all.

Although android has a huge legacy problem and manufacturers and carriers seem to either can't or just don't care about giving timely updates, its a far cry to say that google should not movie the core platform further. Android SHOULD be advancing the platform as quickly as it can with improvements and features. Just because devices are being left behind does not mean that android should just stagnate with 4.1. The legacy problem needs to be addressed weather it be by google or by the market. Seriously tho?! It would be a bigger mistake to hold the platform back in order to let devices catch up. the mobile space is very competitive and its not hard to see a world were google falls behind if they start to hold back platform releases to wait for legacy devices to be updated.

Love the article. As badly as I want the next iteration of Android, I would love a little build up to the next release and I would love my non-gadget-geek friends on Android to catch up. Imagine where we could be a year from now...

I'm not sure its so much about competing with IO6 as it is just staying ahead of the curve. 4.1 isn't perfect and to say that its good enough is not good enough. If google had waited for devices to catch up every time people said that the platform was good enough we would not have jellybean.

Why? From what I have seen, every new iPhone/iOS release for the last few years has only been introducing features that Android has already had!

No we dont. Nexus maybe, but we definitely do NOT need a new OS to compete with iOS6. they have already spilled the beans on all the "new" features and seriously it has NOTHING that great! JB is SO much more IMO.

Can somebody answer a question for me...I am really interested in getting a Nexus phone as my next device...but was wondering if getting OTA updates from Google is only the case for unlocked, GSM versions of the phone...if I got a Sprint CDMA version, am I at the mercy of Sprint for updates like Jelly Bean...and if so, is the wait as long as if i got a HTC or Samsung device? Thanks

No it's longer. Because sprint takes "x" amount of time to roll out an update once they receive it. But with an HTC or Samsung device you first have to wait "y" amount of time for them to make the update for their hardware, and also apply all their skins on it, and then it gets sent to sprint for the "x" amount of time.

Another advantage of the Nexus program is that you get Stock Android. Many Android user dislike sense and hate touchwiz.

I agree with you wholeheartedly. I need more hardware, not updated software and so does Google. They need to start branding devices with Nexus and getting the name out to the public--the quicker the better.

The reason I say the quicker the better is because IMO, Android could be on the verge of the big squeeze. The iPad is enjoying the view from the top and I've already had multiple conversations at work on Microsoft's tablet. We feel that it will garner the remaining Blackberry holdouts in the workplace as well as offer a lot to those of us who would like to complement our work pcs, don't need the full 'laptop' experience, but do need something mobile. I can totally see myself taking off on my next business trip with a work AND home tablet in my carry-on, leaving that god-awful, heavy laptop bag for the next guy.

If Microsoft doesn't screw it up, they have a very real chance at success. If they are successful with their Surface line, Google will be competing with two companies that have successful products, the desktop OSs to back them up and name recognition. I'm not an Apple person, but aren't they positioning themselves to offer a similar experience of apps and OS from the Mac to the phone? Microsoft has already shown that that is where they are going. IMO, Google has to more firmly establish themselves as a brand in the tablet and phone market because NONE of my 'don't pay attention to tech' friends realize they are working on a Google phone--to them its from ATT, Verizon, etc. And if not that, they will usually on recognize the manufacturer such as Samsung, et al.

And if that wasn't enough, Amazon is said to be releasing multiple updates to their tablet line and possibly (shudder) a phone. Google needs to gather some brand loyalty and the quicker the better.

That said, all they offered that the public cares about was a 7" tablet, no matter how good the specs and great the pricing--IMO, they are shooting themselves in the foot if they've only got one phone and a single tablet that only competes with the Fire and not the iPad. I say--gimme a 7", a 8 - 9" and a 10. Also, I'd like to see more than one phone, perhaps one w/ a keyboard, although much to my dismay those seem to be going the way of the Dodo - but they need at least a different sized screen. I'm willing to give on the multiple phone models, as iPhone has proven that minor changes to hardware work with major (for them) software updates seem to work.

SOrry i'll shut up after this. Google can focus on hardware and software as they do with every nexus devices. Also I would argue that android has always had enough hardware. from the low end to the high end, from the transformers to the galaxy tabs, android has so much hardware that a device is forgotten after 3 months. Googles brand is the nexus brand but google doesn't succeed with only there brand. The "Android" brand itself is far more important. So if your looking for google to create a million nexus devices, well.... don't because they don't have to. They have Asus and HTC and Samsung ect... to do that for them. And if your next response is that they don't offer timely updates or there skins suck, then there you go thats the actual problem.

"I agree with you wholeheartedly. I need more hardware, not updated software and so does Google. They need to start branding devices with Nexus and getting the name out to the public--the quicker the better."

No they don't. The purpose of the nexus devices are to show the newest version of android without or little manufacture/carrier meddling. More of a demo model than a model to compete with.

"If Microsoft doesn't screw it up, they have a very real chance at success. If they are successful with their Surface line, Google will be competing with two companies that have successful products, the desktop OSs to back them up and name recognition. I'm not an Apple person, but aren't they positioning themselves to offer a similar experience of apps and OS from the Mac to the phone? Microsoft has already shown that that is where they are going. IMO, Google has to more firmly establish themselves as a brand in the tablet and phone market because NONE of my 'don't pay attention to tech' friends realize they are working on a Google phone--to them its from ATT, Verizon, etc. And if not that, they will usually on recognize the manufacturer such as Samsung, et al."

Google doesn't have brand recognition? Why do people have to know they are using android?

"And if that wasn't enough, Amazon is said to be releasing multiple updates to their tablet line and possibly (shudder) a phone. Google needs to gather some brand loyalty and the quicker the better."

Isn't the Kindle Fire using android? Again, why does google need brand loyalty? Go to carrier store and you are going to find; dumb phones, feature phones, one or two Windows 7 and/or Blackberries, the iphone, and a bunch of android phones. Google is getting exactly what they want, a lot of different phones running their OS.

"That said, all they offered that the public cares about was a 7" tablet, no matter how good the specs and great the pricing--IMO, they are shooting themselves in the foot if they've only got one phone and a single tablet that only competes with the Fire and not the iPad. I say--gimme a 7", a 8 - 9" and a 10. Also, I'd like to see more than one phone, perhaps one w/ a keyboard, although much to my dismay those seem to be going the way of the Dodo - but they need at least a different sized screen. I'm willing to give on the multiple phone models, as iPhone has proven that minor changes to hardware work with major (for them) software updates seem to work."

I would have like to a 10" nexus tablet instead of a 7" but then again, there is a good reason for it otherwise they would not have done it. My guess is the price point.

Since Microsoft's surface project will support x64 programs that run on w7, then Google chome browser for the desktop will run. Google already has a solid offering.

I'm torn on this debate - while it would be nice to get some of the older phones "caught up", it hardly seems like its Google's responsibility to make it so. If OEMs weren't so adamant about their custom skin development, a lot of these phones would have their updates already. I think the UI/UX issue is a moot point now, android 4.x has a beautiful interface, and the need to skin seems more unnecessary now than ever.
Also, I'm worried that putting ICS or JB on older phones will compromise the ability to heavily develop new features going forward, as everything has to be so legacy compatible. I have an original international SGS on GB, and I'm happy if that is where it stays. We should get out of the mindset of buying phones for the upgrades and ignoring what version they are running at release, as in my experience it doesn't matter much what the hardware looks like, or who the manufacturer is, it takes a lot of time (case in point: Razr, Rezound, etc)

I hate iOS, but no iPhone buyer ever bought phone and gave a rats ass about when they were getting their upgrade to the next iOS. hell, no iPhone user i've ever met even has a clue what version of iOS they are running. its a different user base, and different eco-system, so the comparison of android (hardware or software) being compared to iPhone or iOS seems like apples and oranges.

All that being said, regardless of what we think or write, Google is not going to sit back on its laurels and let Android get stale - they can push development on JB point releases, and work on the next version of Android at the same time, then everybody wins!!1!

btw, not to sound like a fanboy, but awesome article Alex, your writing skills are astounding.

"I hate iOS, but no iPhone buyer ever bought phone and gave a rats ass about when they were getting their upgrade to the next iOS."

You must have missed the last WWDC keynote, then. Apple was bragging about their iOS adoption rate and compared it to ICS' admittedly anemic adoption rate. The crowd went wild. In any case, your anecdotal experience can be countered easily by my anecdotal experience among my circle of friends. They tend to lean toward iOS and they all know the specs cold (they do jailbreak). Nota bene: I live in the Silicon Valley area :)

Cannot have too many nexus devices!

I own a Xoom, nexus one and galaxy nexus. I have had the original xoom since it first came out and it has easily transitioned from 3.0 to 3.1 to 3.2 to 4.0 to 4.04 (might have missed a couple of dots) and am now looking forward to JB this month.

So however the Xoom was built - it was built right - and each and every upgrade has been a pleasure and no more that a 15 minute interruption. And each prior iteration was nice - but the upgrade was always better.

I believe windows users and manufacturers wet their pants more when change happens - and I am glad droids are updated as often as linux. As a long time linux user I have always enjoyed upgrades and can only think of 3 times in 15 years where daily updates have caused a significant bite in productivity.

And I have ordered a nexus 7 - but I believe my Xoom will be an even better tablet with the addition of JB.

NOTE: Maybe manufacturers should get out of the way and allow users to easily boot their devices to a clean machine - and let the users opt for the bling. If their bling is so good - the users will install it - rather than being force fed.

I seriously doubt that there will be another big update to Android this year. Im not really sure why anyone would think this anyway.

Yeah, i agree. In fact the Article starts by naming the last 2 major releases were a year apart, and used that as an explination why we'll see a new version in less than 6 months.

I think Google should not discuss or reveal any future OS update until manufacturers have had it for six to nine months. If they were to do this, only the very first update would feel overly delayed. All subsequent updates would continue on the annual cycle. When Google finally does reveal the next OS update at I/O, manufacturers would have had it for nine months, they could have updates availble very shortly after Google makes it available to Nexus devices.

Basically, Android would make its PDK available earlier than the two months they just announced.

The problem with that is the info leakeage.
If Google handles to manufacturers their latest code and wait 9 months to announce it, each and every manufacturer would have had someone from the inside leaking the new code. That's what always happens. I've had ICS on my SGS2 since january thanks to firmware being leaked from inside Samsung (official ICS has just been released last week).

Someone needs to get this in the hands of some google execs PRONTO... Nice work Alex! I 100% agree. And honestly, i REALLY do think this is EXACTLY what google has planned. Pretty sure they have already told us that major OS revisions are going to be slowing down (last year at IO i think) but they really had to get the OS to a place that it could sit for a while. jelly bean is that place!

I really hope the multiple manufacturers' Nexii rumor turns out to be true. I would love to see Google work with all the major players on new iterations of Android so that the time between initial release of Android versions and manufacturer updates is minimized. I'd love Google to leverage their release power to say something along the lines of "We give you the earliest possible access to our code builds, and you may all release your unskinned Nexus device on Date X, all other devices on Date X plus 30 days." Let's face it, Android is way ahead of the competition on features, and we can afford to let manufacturers get a little more time with the code before their stuff hits the street. As it has been previously, you had only one manufacturer blessed with the inside access, so instantly the others were behind when the Nexus came out. This just throws fuel on the fire for the "Android is Fragmented OMG!!!" stories.

Total Agreement, Alex. Let's see a new Nexus with an even better display, and a 12 MP, improved-optics camera. We know the display can be improved (One X is better than the SGS3) and there are better cameras on less-popular devices (Sony, I think). For all those who desperately want longer battery life, including me, I fear that the technology is going to take a while. The best solution right now is to buy a second battery and a charging cradle that will charge the phone and the second battery overnight. Take the spare with you and swap it out during the day if needed. I first got this idea because the battery would ALWAYS drain during a round of golf when using the GPS, so I started carrying the spare. The extra-power batteries are also extra-large and extra-heavy, you would never want to carry one of those in your pocket. Also, I do not like the extra-thickness of the phone with the expanded cover. Anyway, let's see a new Nexus with some eye-popping features in November, and I don't care who makes it. But it better have a removable battery!

Don T

I really don't agree - there seems to be this misconception that Google needs to slow down innovation so that older phones can make it to each sequential update, but why should that be? Handsets can simply update skip an update round and move to the next one.

I get that people with year old phones (that don't have the word "Nexus" printed on them) may feel like they are falling ever further behind, but isn't that why we always tell people to buy the phone for what it's like now, not what it could be with more updates?

More importantly, Google absolutely must gain more traction on the tablet front; the Nexus 7 will surely help, but they need to crack into the full sized tablet market share battle. Why? Because if Microsoft succeeds at installing Windows 8/RT as the "second ecosystem" for tablets there will be an increasingly strong pull for such customers to adopt WP8 for handsets to maximize compatibility.

Tablets are growing faster than phones now, and mobile ecosystems have a much stronger lock-in effect than traditional computing did. Google can't afford to dawdle on improving the OS (especially the tablet parts, and perhaps the integration with GTV, etc.) just because someone with a Motorola Droid RAZR might feel like they are falling behind the current updates.

Sorry, but as good as Jellybean is, now is NOT the time to take their foot off the gas.

I'm kinda missing the point here with this topic.

Google has only ever put out one named version a year. Why would anyone think Jelly Bean would be followed by Key Lime Pie or other K-name in 2012? Sure there will be a new or set of new Nexii phones and possibly a minor revision like 4.1.n, but there is no reason to even consider a new named version in 2012.

I'm thinking Google just made a smart move in that they let the OS out as early as possible so fall phone line-up can be assured to have the latest and greatest. This of course would substantially help the xmas shopping season as well as its marketing vs the next iPhone.

Froyo and gingerbread came out the same year, as did honeycomb and ICS. I know honeycomb wasn't for phones, but they still maid 2 os updates in one year, which they've done for 2 years now. Additionally, Google has NEVER released a nexus device without a new OS.

It makes the advertisement so much harder "checkout this new hardware running the same old thing". Also, my nexus s broke and I'm running a backup phone until the new generation of devices, a new OS is always nice. Which is why I strongly disagree, and hope google is planning on following this path.

If samsung doesn't like this update cycle, they can roll out their ICS upgrade, and then simply wait until Key lime pie.

When can we expect any sort of news about the upcoming Nexus?? I'm itching to ditch my iPhone 4S to come back to some Jelly Bean - Android goodness!

I would just be happy if the hardware OEMs would put the MicroUSB in the same place with the same orientation PLEASE!!! Then we make the docking stations and android compatible alarm clocks use the microUSB for charging AND music!

I think Google should focus on increasing their content up to the level of Amazon and iTunes in terms of music, movies, and TV. Not having Warner signed is a huge loss for Google Music.

Agreed! Let everyone who bought a semi-main stream phone in the last few years get up to at least ICS if not JB before releasing a new update. Google really needs to spend some of that software development time making really killer apps *for* their flagship OS rather than changing the OS again. That, and how about some Google TV love?!

I had a Gnex on Verizon and I liked it but started to get tired of the lackluster hardware. Moved to ATT and long story short I was using a One X and I liked it. Then I saw Jelly Bean. Now I have my One X for sale and I'm using a GSM Nexus on Jelly Bean that I bought for $350 and it actually feels like an upgrade over the One X.

Seeing that the Razr and most other phones that came out when the Nexus came out are still waiting on ICS or just got it I don't have much faith in any current phones getting JB anytime soon so I'll stay rocking this nexus until the next one comes out.

U poor poor bastards I'm still pimp'n a 3GS and I get updates like every 3 months and a major 1 every year guess that's why apple made sure they never relied on the carrier for anything but a connection...what a mess u guys are in. And as far as apple playing catch up...yeah right.just cuz serge has an iPhone and can experience all the innovative apps on the app store then copy and bake them into android does'nt make them ahead of the game I've never seen any killer feature on android that wasn't already an app on the app store. Even sgs3's bump to share was an app when I got my 3GS 3 years ago and scrolling/app switching has been "buttery" smooth 4 me for years. so yeah google is still playing copy and catch up

Whoa whoa i'm sorry if I've had a fantastic experience with apple products and maybe this isn't the forum to tell about it but it's true. that said...I was extremely impressed by google I/O and for that matter the YT vids on the SGS3 (the video widget does look slick even if it is impractical), and at $199 with those specs I may have to just give nexus a go round, especially since my biggest pet peeve has been addressed....choppiness! Never understood why apple had the lock on that...but after years
of neglect from Microsoft & Wn's, putting something in my hand that "just fucking worked" and better than that I new how to use and discover shit without a computer science degree was a breath of fresh air. So unfortunately with android,the talk of rooting and malware on top of a choppy os all I could see we're those years battling wn to do what I needed it to do (rember trying to sync songs to ur moto razr ugh!) And I have to agree about google enforcing the updates it's their os just like ms and wn and apple and X they don't wait for nobody. MS is the better example cuz there software is on other brands devices and they push the updates to wn. Maybe google could force their updates through and if the the oem isn't ready then their "skIn" will have to come in a later update? not really sure how they navigate that mess. Either way I'm pretty die hard apple and google raised my brow so it's a good bet their headed in the right direction

And for those worried about Surface COME ON!... U really think Surface and win 8 will work seamlessly together yeah just like my Media Center on PC and Xbox (spotty at best) and have u tried metro on anything other than a touch device like Xbox or kinect it's unintuitive and cumbersome now imagine a mouse and pointer(maybe all Wn pc's will require touchscreens now?). Or most likely Jobs was right you can't really blend the 2 UI's without serious compromise to one or both of the experiences.

You may get updates on the 3GS, but tell me: How's Siri? Or how will the built-in turn-by-turn navigation be like? Oh right, you won't get those from Apple. Ever. Also, nearly everything I've read about newer iOS versions on older models like the 3GS describe it as a nightmare and lag central. So, either they're wrong or you're just trolling.

Can somebody answer a question for me...I am really interested in getting a Nexus phone as my next device...but was wondering if getting OTA updates from Google is only the case for unlocked, GSM versions of the phone...if I got a Sprint CDMA version, am I at the mercy of Sprint for updates like Jelly Bean...and if so, is the wait as long as if i got a HTC or Samsung device? Thanks

Great story!!! I agree with you 100% and i think Google should just keep updating Jelly Bean from 4.1-5 and maybe the next Nexus could have 4.5 and just have better hardware and the latest and greatest version of JB:)

Being that I just switched to an iPhone 4S because of the constant feeling back dated of the ANdroid OS Games, This article is 1000% on point! I hate the feeling of alway sgetting a phone and 3-6 months later feel outdated. iOS doesn't have that issue, even though ANdroid is a more open flexible OS, it's hella annoying. I'm speaking as a average consu,er that loves phones and is willing to pay cash in the middle of a contract for a dope phone. Android needs to cut it out and focus on the hardware and "average" user instead of the Android Fanboys and Techies. Didn't mean to step on any toes, but it's the truth. Peace...and I might switch if that new Nexus is smaller and wayyy higher level than the iPhone 5!

We've already seen some of the five rumoured Nexus's in the 7 and Q. I think we'll see a 10" before Christmas. A phone also looks likely along with maybe even the glasses.

I dont think we will see a 10" by Christmas.. but i would LOVE to be wrong. BUT... the galsses are not happening for a few years (2014 if i remember correct) and that was straight from google io. :(

However, my bet (many peoples actually) is we will see 3 - 5 Nexi phones each from a different hardware partner... this will do 2 things for google and all of us. Give us more nexus options AND those carriers would have the latest and greatest source to begin customizing WAY earlier and updates from those companies would be MUCH quicker then as well!! :)

Google definitely needs to push the hardware on the next Nexus. The G-Nex hardware was mediocre even at release, and is just painfully outdated now.

The next Nexus needs to have hardware that's at least close to what the iPhone 5 will have under the hood. They can't rely on OEMs and carriers to make phones that will be as good as the iPhone 5; they've proven time and again that they're completely incompetent when it comes to this.

Google needs to create a phone that is a flagship in every sense of the word, because that's what Apple is doing every time.

Another reason why there shouldn't be another Android update this year:

Creating anything of quality takes time. Why hastily rush out a new OS version when Google really needs to take their time and build something of quality, less bugs and glitches, less security flaws, etc. Take your time Google, but hopefully, not too long. I want me some Key Lime Pie eventually. :)

Unless there's something new that just has to be added to Android, that goes to the core of the device, they should not be launching a new version of it until at least 70% of new devices are already running the present version.

I agree with you 100%. Why jump up to a new OS version JB (4.1) when the updates aren't really that big from ICS. Unless the code is that much more different than ICS. Who knows?

If the Mythical Five Nexii of Happiness come along later in the year, all running stock Jellybean, that will be awesome and perfect. That will do the thing Android needs done asap.

The other thing they need is getting Play stocked up with Music and Movies all around the world. But that doesn't need a new Android version.

I think Android is a solid and mature basis upon which more awesomeness can be built. Google is taking the right steps moving forward, hope stability and consistency becomes one of their priorities.

I am sorry, I didn't read the article, cause I couldn't get past the opening. I have yet to figure out.. WHY this is even a thing. "As With Gingerbread in 2010, and ICS in 2011, (So both updates a year apart) We think there will be a new version of android in Q4 2012.

I'm no math person.. But.. the math makes no sense. Cause that pattern is, to me.. GB 2010, ICS 2011, JB 2012 Key Lime Pie 2013.

A quick search on Wikipedia will show you the release dates for each Android version:

1.5 Cupcake..........Apr 30, 2009
1.6 Donut............Sep 15, 2009
2.0/2.1 Eclair.......Oct 26, 2009.......(3 updates in 2009)
2.2 Froyo............May 20, 2010
2.3 Gingerbread......Dec 06, 2010.......(2 updates in 2010)
3.0 Honeycomb........Feb 22, 2011
4.0 ICS..............Oct 19, 2011.......(2 updates in 2011)
4.1 Jelly Bean.......Jun 28, 2012
?.? Key Lime Pie.....????????????

Do you see the pattern and the point of the article now?

Good article, and I agree. I know these comment rolls are filled with those who define themselves by hating apple, but in some ways google needs to be more like apple with android. This is one of those cases. Android is now a mature and highly competitive (#1 in total use) mobile OS. Google can make more bang for buck focusing on other areas.

I disagree with those who think android needs to focus on hardware, at least in terms of putting together bleeding edge parts. I think google can differentiate its new nexus or nexII phones on design, services, and integration. The whole is more than the sum of the parts.

Well, hopefully the new Nexus phones in the future will remain flagship devices. I really don't like HTC Sense, Blur, or Touchwiz. I strongly prefer stock Android, as it is better than those 3 skins. Pair stock Android with strong hardware, we'll have a winner

Now here's the bet that I'm willing to make.

How many people who are on Gingerbread right now are going to be upgraded to ICS, let alone Jellybean? The HTC Thunderbolt still doesn't have ICS, let alone Jellybean. Are they gonna skip straight to that? Of course, the ROM cookers will probably have it before the OEM's...

I purchased an unlocked GNex, so I like how they're doing it. :)

Major release once a year with hardware refresh to compete with Apple's offering. Point release in between to get the added features that didn't quite make it in the Major release. If Google followed this article's plead we wouldn't be experiencing updates such as JB and comparatively Android would start to become stale.

PDK is a great idea and will help if OEMs decide to take advantage of it. The 2-3 month head start should make a big difference. If there were only one big update every year, the PDK would still only be available 2-3 months prior and would probably take them longer to adapt with such big changes every update.

"Version", is such a harsh word. Update, or patch is a little better.
We've found that anytime there's a change in Android there's been hate, confusion, envy, a sense of being left out. These decisions need to be taken OUT of the hands of the carriers, and left to the manufacturers, though the both have the same motives for not upgrading. Sales