The new standard lately seems to be releasing your Flagship Android Smart phone w/ your custom skin and announce the Google Play Version to be released later in the year. For those who don’t understand or care what that means I’ll break it down.
Samsung, HTC and Motorola have updated their flagship phones this year touting their latest designs with new features on the year old Jelly Bean Android OS. Along with showing off the latest and greatest these companies have worked a deal with Google to product version of their phones with it’s Pure Android running with no custom features. Along with this the devices will be sold without any contract needed through Google’s own store. I have my own take on why these companies would risk producing what could be a better running phone that is updated more recently at a better deal.
All the grumbling I read and hear month after month, year after year is how Fragmented the Android operating system is. Hundreds of phones running different variations of the Android operating system giving each phone a different experience thus never truly getting the best experience for what you are paying for. Smart Phones released as little as 5 months ago already behind the 8 ball running an old version of the Android operating system with little to no information on when an update will be available. For those lucky enough to understand how to customize your device by rooting can obtain bootleg versions of the latest and greatest can update their phone. Just a word of warning by doing this yourself you may experience many problems. The main reason for the slow updates to these devices is the lack of access from Google as well as little to no profit involved for companies to keep testing the phone and making adjustments so it will work with the new OS.
I could go on and on about the hurdles companies go through and why they do what they do, but I want to talk about what seems to be the ultimate blunder made not once, but three times with these phones makers. The biggest complaint that can be agreed upon with most Android users is the slow updates to the newest OS. When I first heard Samsung and HTC were giving their devices to Google to run a pure OS and unsubsidized I was kind of excited. I thought they might have made a deal to get the OS updates at the same time as Google releases them live thus killing the fragmentation making people feel left out when their device is months old. However, just the other week Google released an incremental update to Jelly Bean (4.3) to their home grown devices not only leaving out the latest creations from Samsung, HTC and now Motorola, but the Google Play versions are even left without first dibs on the update. Now you could say it’s only been a couple weeks and the updates are coming, but if the flagship phones can’t get the updates immediately what about the slightly older devices? How about the rumored next big Android update Key Lime Pie? Is this incremental update not part of the bigger plan? Are these companies already able to get their hands on the next OS so they can release it the same day it’s announced proving they cared enough to keep the phones on the same level of value like iOS does?
It just seems like these companies aren’t concerned about updating these phones beyond the current OS or the next variation if it’s not too far from its release. So when Android is ready to release the next big update you can almost guarantee people who own the HTC One and Samsung Galaxy S4 will be months away from seeing the newest software if at all. This is one of the main reasons why I can’t endorse any of these phones released outside the Google family. I am interested to see how this all plays out and will certainly offer my opinion when these events occur.