It’s hard to get excited about new Android OS. This is largely because of the well documented fragmentation in how each new OS is delivered. I’ve fallen victim to this trap with owning multiple devices outside of Google’s pure Android line of Nexus devices. If you’re like me, one of the 95 percent of devices running something other than pure Google, you have a love/hate relationship with new updates. They’re fun to learn about, but the sinking feeling of wondering when your device will get updated is absolutely painful.
That’s why learning that the potential for Google to redesign this framework, by offering multiple Nexus devices on every relevant carrier and provided from multiple manufacturers almost made me leap out of my seat. What this does, is offer choice from within the pure Google Nexus line, and competition amongst manufacturers to build the biggest and baddest hardware and forget the OS. This reduces fragmentation, makes it easier for Google to alleviate OS bugs, and allows Android to evolve, expand and improve faster.
It also allows buyers to pick a build. For instance, my contract is up on my current device (Droid Incredible 2), so I naturally looked at the Galaxy Nexus to resolve the painful wait of OS updates from bloated and modulated HTC devices (HTC Sense) and others. But when feeling the build of the Galaxy Nexus (plasticy), and its completely overwhelming size I couldn’t do it.
For me, if there was a way to have the ceramic and durable feel of my Droid Incredible 2, but the pure Google experience of the Galaxy Nexus, life would be perfect. No such environment exists yet, but if Google has learned anything, Android’s fragmentation has suffocated improvement. Google moves faster than most in the tech world, so possessing the ability to push OTA updates instantly to a larger smartphone population would only help.
The hard part is not alienating the manufacturers that took a chance on Android early on, and give them a playing field to succeed and compete in. Manufacturers create unique skins to differentiate themselves, so preventing this ability would off-put manufacturers that make devices using other OS’ (Microsoft). By allowing manufacturers to compete within the pure Google framework, while also still allowing them to offer their modulated versions, will finally offer the customer true choice. If Google pulls this off, it could be the compromise Android needs to pull past its one caveat highlighted by its competitors, and finally wiggle its way out of the fragmentation that has plagued it for years.