With Google’s I/O announcement expo now firmly within the rearview mirror, it is time for us to enter the inevitable subsequent part of any tech-tinted revelation — and that is the cautious contemplation of all the things we have simply skilled.
It is my favourite part of all, personally, because it lets us actually dive in and analyze all the things with a fine-toothed comb to uncover all of the delicate significance that is not all the time obvious on the floor.
And this yr, my goodness, is there some splendid stuff to pore over.
Particular to the realm of Android, the sharp-eyed gumshoes over at 9to5Google seen that this yr’s under-development new Android model, Android 14, was talked about by title solely one time throughout your entire 2,000-hour Google I/O keynote.
All proper — so it wasn’t actually 2,000 hours (even when it did really feel prefer it at instances). However the keynote was two hours and 5 minutes, and it included loads of speak about Android itself. A brand new Android model is usually a significant focus of each I/O occasion. And someway, Google made it 125 minutes with solely one particular callout of this yr’s newest and best Android providing.
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It certain appears unusual on the floor, would not ya say? However keep in mind: This second is all about going past the floor and looking for out the deeper which means of Google’s actions. And also you’d higher imagine there’s some critical significance to be sussed out on this state of affairs.
Google’s invisible Android pivot
I will not preserve you ready: Google seems to have very a lot averted specializing in Android 14 as a deliberate and tactical technique — not as a result of it is inching away from Android as an entity however as a result of it needs to position much less emphasis on every new Android model because the measure of evolution throughout the platform.
It is an interesting shift and one which anybody who’s been studying this column for lengthy is aware of has been build up for years. In actual fact, we have been speaking about it in these quarters for nicely over a decade now.
In case you have not been following alongside — or possibly simply do not take into consideration these items 24/7, like sure unbalanced and deeply disturbed people (insert awkward eye-darting right here) — what I am hinting at is the way in which Google’s been working to tug increasingly more items out of the particular Android working system and deal with ’em as standalone components as a substitute.
Since 2010, we have been watching Google go at this with none formal announcement or mentioning of its piecemeal pivot. But it surely’s probably the most consequential adjustments the working system has ever skilled, and it is one thing that impacts all of us who use Android-associated devices.
Plain and easy, a large array of components that’d historically be thought-about system elements are actually technically apps — particular person gadgets within the Play Retailer which are nonetheless core elements of any cellphone’s basis however are actually in a position to get up to date quite a few instances a month in a method that reaches all units immediately.
It is not one thing a mean cellphone proprietor is even conscious of, and that is kinda the purpose. But it surely has an immeasurable impact on the general expertise of proudly owning an Android-oriented equipment.
In actual fact, it even offers these of us on the Android aspect of the mobile-tech spectrum an necessary benefit over our iPhone-carrying comrades, regardless of the favored narrative on the contrary.
Give it some thought: Within the span of a few months, we see a stage of great system-level updates throughout Android that’d quantity to a full main new OS model on iOS — with hefty developments for all the things from our default electronic mail, messaging, note-taking, net searching, and picture storing apps to significant enhancements aimed toward under-the-hood components accountable for our telephones’ privateness, safety, and efficiency.
As a sure astute Android-obsessed author put it final month:
Google’s method really presents a fairly vital sensible benefit, because the updates to all these items usually land a number of instances a month as a substitute of being collected into annual clusters — however with the way in which larger OS updates command probably the most consideration, it additionally presents a really actual downside round notion. … Google would not do a lot to emphasise the truth that we get these kinds of updates consistently on Android whereas iPhone homeowners get ’em solely a couple of times a yr. While you cease and give it some thought, it is actually no shock that so few folks see the forest for the timber and notice the way it all provides up.
This identical author (who, by the by, is each exceptionally charming and terribly humble) has been bangin’ this drum for eons now. And eventually, with its 2023 Google I/O gala, Google is for the primary time beginning to share that rhythm and alter the way in which it is speaking about Android.
Right here it’s plain as day, confirmed in a dialog between an Android government and a reporter from The Verge:
Sameer Samat, VP of Android ecosystem … stated that as Google has carried out methods for Android units to obtain updates outdoors of a once-a-year platform improve, like Play System and app updates, it’s grow to be needed to border issues somewhat in another way. “So this yr, we thought it’s necessary to point out folks what’s new in Android from a person expertise standpoint, whatever the OS model. Whereas some options that we introduced will launch with Android 14, many will arrive in folks’s arms via these steady updates,” he says.
Properly, goodness gracious. How ’bout them apples?!
However maintain the cellphone — ‘trigger there are two sides to each story. And this one is actually no exception.
One platform, two tales
First issues first: Google’s Android messaging shift is a strong and necessary pivot after years of Android taking a beating for its less-than-exceptional across-the-board efficiency with working system replace rollouts.
You already know the deal on that entrance, proper? Outdoors of Google itself, with its self-made Pixel merchandise, most Android device-makers do an embarrassingly poor job of preserving their merchandise updated and sending out software program updates in a fairly well timed method — to the purpose the place it is grow to be unimaginable to advocate anybody purchase any Android merchandise made by sure significantly distinguished offenders.
However here is the issue: Whereas the working system updates on Android completely aren’t the complete story anymore or wherever close to as all-encompassing as they as soon as had been, they are nonetheless necessary — in ways in which transcend the flamboyant new options and interface enhancements we see on the floor.
With Android 14, as an illustration, the software program introduces a brand new privateness requirement that plainly reveals you if and the way an app shares location information with any third events anytime a location permission is requested. It features a new characteristic for higher defending your cellphone’s PIN, too, in addition to a more nuanced system for granting apps entry to media recordsdata saved in your gadget.
These kinds of system-level enhancements to privateness, safety, and efficiency are frequent elements of Android working system updates, even when they don’t seem to be the elements that are likely to get probably the most consideration. And for all of Google’s admirable efforts at pulling items out of the working system and updating ’em in an a la carte method via the Play Retailer, sure foundational components can nonetheless be dealt with solely as a part of the formal OS layer.
So in the end, there are two sides to this shift: an consciousness of what Google’s doing and why it is a good, if overdue, change in focus — and a remaining consciousness of why it nonetheless would not handle all the things and why it is necessary to choose an Android device-maker who gives the extent of post-sales software program assist you or what you are promoting should have.
Greater than something, although, perspective issues. And this shift in messaging goes a great distance in higher conveying the present state of Android and the way updates are literally dealt with.
Now let’s have a look at if Google manages to stick with it and ensure everybody — together with the form of common Homo sapiens who would not watch an occasion like Google I/O within the first place — stays conscious of what is occurring.
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