Let’s Be Honest, We Already Have Android 4.3 (Updated)

I have a not-so-unique theory about Android 4.3′s front-end updates…they’re already here.

  • Google plus 6/13/13
  • Google Cloud Print 6/12/13
  • Gmail 6/5/13
  • Google Now 5/15/13
  • Google Drive 6/3/13
  • Play Music 6/13/13
  • Google Calendar 5/30/13
  • Hangouts 5/16/13
  • Google Keep 3/20/13
  • YouTube 5/15/13
  • Google Keyboard 6/5/13
  • Google Maps - 7/10/2013

Recently Google has been on the warpath when it comes to major app updates and releases starting with the Google keep release in March. Some people (myself included) believe that this is Google’s most concerted effort in the fight against “fragmentation.” In reality Android has had less of an issue with fragmentation as other platforms since the features contained in its software updates are ubiquitously present across all devices capable of running said update. (We’re looking at you Apple) Of course hardware compatibility is a different story.

It appears that Google has eschewed the normal updating protocols that allow carriers to force consumers to buy new phones in order to obtain new software. In Android’s infancy only we nerds knew when an update was coming and what it might entail. These days just about every consumer knows about the tasty monikers Google gives its software and the amazing functionally that follows. Unfortunately this means words like “fragmentation” get thrown around without a clear understanding of what it really means. So, Instead of using I/O to show off a new android system and feed the “When do I get my upgrade?” hysteria, we’ve been provided updates to nearly every major Google App.

If Google were to hoard these changes and present them en mass to the public we would be fawning over all the changes…..while impatiently waiting. Again, Google is not like that Cupertino company. Packaging these app updates into a system update with new API’s and UI features would have incensed those individuals at the carriers mercy. Those “back-end” modifications are what allow for cool features like Google now and Bluetooth Low Energy, but they also necessitate a full OS upgrade. Instead, Google quietly gave us more new functionality in these applications than iPhone users will receive in all of IOS7. The difference being that they provided these upgrades to every device capable of handling them. Amazingly, they even integrated some new API’s like Google Cloud Messaging by taking care of the entire process using their servers. Again, this allows for notification syncing on any device that is technically capable.

Some people have said Google no longer approaches decisions with the mantra “don’t be evil.” Here’s what I see. Google needs the carriers because Google is terrible at selling hardware. The carriers claim they won’t upgrade devices due to “cost” Google decides that they will upgrade as many devices as they can regardless of what Android version is running. Providing functionality to the consumer at no extra cost is pretty much the definition of “don’t be evil.”

About Obi Onyeador

Obi is an IT Consultant currently working at USA TODAY. He is also the founder of 44technology.com and a Google Glass Explorer. He believes "There is no spoon."
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  • boonesimpson says:

    Yeah when fragmentation first really cropped up (1.6 devices and 2.0 devices and 2.1 devices, etc) I wondered aloud why Google didn’t piecemeal their upgrades like they are doing now. Update the keyboard independently, upgrade music player, update mms, etc.

    While a new OS adds new API levels and more hardware support and such, I am glad that Google is trying to combat fragmentation and allow for more functionality on older devices.