Is Google trying to limit bugfix releases through compartmentalizing Android?

Michael Goff

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Jul 5, 2012
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We've seen this more and more with pieces of Android being made into apps themselves. The latest was the keyboard.

Do you think this trend will continue and should it continue? What are the benefits and downsides to Google's efforts if they actually do end up making most of the default apps removed completely from the OS itself? I mean stuff like... the gallery, maybe the stock camera, or the clock.

The list goes on and on.

Or am I seeing things that aren't happening?
 

Southernboyj

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Mar 8, 2012
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We've seen this more and more with pieces of Android being made into apps themselves. The latest was the keyboard.

Do you think this trend will continue and should it continue? What are the benefits and downsides to Google's efforts if they actually do end up making most of the default apps removed completely from the OS itself? I mean stuff like... the gallery, maybe the stock camera, or the clock.

The list goes on and on.

Or am I seeing things that aren't happening?
They're transitioning into a "rolling-release" cycle. Because when they put out bug fixes (4.1.1 -> 4.1.2), it is a nightmare getting it out, then getting the manufacture to support it, then get the carrier to support it.

By having a lot of Androids core pieces available on the Play Store, they can streamline the process between updating bugs in certain apps.
 

Michael Goff

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They're transitioning into a "rolling-release" cycle. Because when they put out bug fixes (4.1.1 -> 4.1.2), it is a nightmare getting it out, then getting the manufacture to support it, then get the carrier to support it.

By having a lot of Androids core pieces available on the Play Store, they can streamline the process between updating bugs in certain apps.
So we can expect devices to actually get fixes (devices that aren't Nexus devices)? Is that what I'm understanding as being the major upside? And if it's that great, why isn't anyone else doing it?

Just wondering.
 

Southernboyj

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So we can expect devices to actually get fixes (devices that aren't Nexus devices)? Is that what I'm understanding as being the major upside? And if it's that great, why isn't anyone else doing it?

Just wondering.
Depends on what you mean by fixes.

Think of it like this: Let's say you own a Galaxy S3, and there is a bug inside the Google Maps app (Go with me here :p). If Google Maps was linked to the OS like some apps are, and not to the Play Store.. you couldn't just go to the Play Store and update that app when Google fixes it.

Instead, they'd have to patch it, put that into the next software update (which they usually wait until they have several bugs to release).

With the apps being on the Play Store, everyone on every device can get the update instantly without waiting on the manufacturers and carriers to catch up.
 

Michael Goff

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Depends on what you mean by fixes.

Think of it like this: Let's say you own a Galaxy S3, and there is a bug inside the Google Maps app (Go with me here :p). If Google Maps was linked to the OS like some apps are, and not to the Play Store.. you couldn't just go to the Play Store and update that app when Google fixes it.

Instead, they'd have to patch it, put that into the next software update (which they usually wait until they have several bugs to release).

With the apps being on the Play Store, everyone on every device can get the update instantly without waiting on the manufacturers and carriers to catch up.
Then this is the best possible thing.

Could this also help with quicker updates in other ways? Say, if they moved the camera app to the market they could change the UI at some point without having to throw out a completely new version.

I repeat: Why isn't this the standard?
 

MRU

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I wonder if google will ever release a 'stock' style launcher themselves too, to rival things like Nova & Apex, given the amount of stock apps they are releasing individually, if they released a stock launcher and dialler / SMS apps you could almost replace any android skin with as close to stock experience without flashing an AOSP rom.
 

jeffe

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Feb 17, 2008
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Then this is the best possible thing.

Could this also help with quicker updates in other ways? Say, if they moved the camera app to the market they could change the UI at some point without having to throw out a completely new version.

I repeat: Why isn't this the standard?
I'm sure there is a strategic/political/technical reason for it.. Android is also much bigger than just Apks...some things will always require a system update.
 

Southernboyj

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I wonder if google will ever release a 'stock' style launcher themselves too, to rival things like Nova & Apex, given the amount of stock apps they are releasing individually, if they released a stock launcher and dialler / SMS apps you could almost replace any android skin with as close to stock experience without flashing an AOSP rom.

I feel like with the direction they're heading and how they're pushing stock more.. if the Google Edition One/S4 prove to be in demand, the manufacturers might make stock possible on all devices.

In the same way the HTC First had the ability to completely turn off it's skin to reveal stock android.
 

MRU

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In the same way the HTC First had the ability to completely turn off it's skin to reveal stock android.
Yeah very true, that would be fantastic if we could all just do that going forward, and then quickly turn it back on if we fancied a change.
 

Michael Goff

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I'm sure there is a strategic/political/technical reason for it.. Android is also much bigger than just Apks...some things will always require a system update.
Well, yes, some things will always require a system update. But what I'm talking about is the fact that 4.2.1 had these wonderful changes:

Fixed a bug in the People app where December was not displayed on the date selector when adding an event to a contact
Added Bluetooth gamepads and joysticks as supported HID


Imagine if the people app hadn't been connected to Android proper and could have been updated on its own.
 

cynics

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Jan 8, 2012
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Is google doing this anymore then usual though.

Aside from the keyboard has anything else come to the play store that hasn't been there?

It already feels like everything aside the OS itself is in the play store.
 

Southernboyj

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Yeah very true, that would be fantastic if we could all just do that going forward, and then quickly turn it back on if we fancied a change.
That's the ideal scenario since flashing a new ROM isn't something a casual user would do.. even if officially supported.

That begs the question though, if most people were turning off the skins, would it still be worth the R&D to develop them?

I'd be ok with them ceasing the use of skins. They could still make APK's available for their devices to enable things use as the Galaxy's S-features or the IR-Blaster apps.
 

Michael Goff

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Is google doing this anymore then usual though.

Aside from the keyboard has anything else come to the play store that hasn't been there?

It already feels like everything aside the OS itself is in the play store.
Nothing new yet.

There are some things that I think could definitely be made into play-store apps that would help further this. Hence why I started the discussion about whether or not people think they're going about this route.
 

kenypowa

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Oct 16, 2008
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Google is taking Android back. Even if you get a S4 or One, you can install all these Google apps and have the stock appearance, for the most parts
 

Dr McKay

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What I'd prefer, is Google to open up Android to full themes more easily, currently Launchers don't change 100% of the OS. However themes you can apply on things like CyanogenMod can change all of it.

I'd love Google to mandate that OEM skins on top of Android are a simple theme bundled with the phone, that the user can turn off in settings. All the additions like Samsungs and HTC's apps are to be kept on the Play Store in a separate "HTC Apps" or "Samsung Apps" section that users on those phones can access.
 

cynics

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Jan 8, 2012
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Nothing new yet.

There are some things that I think could definitely be made into play-store apps that would help further this. Hence why I started the discussion about whether or not people think they're going about this route.
Such as what things? I'm just curious.

I wish apple would do the same thing. They call a minor enhance a new feature of an iOS upgrade....

Make a section for iOS devices that can only be seen from the device these apps apply too.
 

Michael Goff

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Such as what things? I'm just curious.

I wish apple would do the same thing. They call a minor enhance a new feature of an iOS upgrade....

Make a section for iOS devices that can only be seen from the device these apps apply too.
Here are some things I think could be removed for future bugfixes and just generally making sure that others have the stock versions.

>Clock
>Camera
>Gallery
>Contacts
>Stock browser

Basically, everything that isn't the settings.
 

KentuckyHouse

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Jan 29, 2010
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Is google doing this anymore then usual though.

Aside from the keyboard has anything else come to the play store that hasn't been there?

It already feels like everything aside the OS itself is in the play store.
Google Keyboard
Google Calendar
Google Search (this is basically Google Now...now)
Gmail
Etc, etc, etc.

I could go on and on, but the bottom line is this is GREAT for the users. If there's a fix that's needed or features to be added, it's as simple as putting out an update to the app in the Play Store. This is one area where Google blows away Apple and iOS. If you need to update or fix something in a core app on iOS, it takes an update of the entire OS. With Google's way, you can update the specific app in just a few seconds.

This is the way it should be.
 

Dontazemebro

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Jul 23, 2010
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I dunno, somewhere in West Texas
Google Keyboard
Google Calendar
Google Search (this is basically Google Now...now)
Gmail
Etc, etc, etc.

I could go on and on, but the bottom line is this is GREAT for the users. If there's a fix that's needed or features to be added, it's as simple as putting out an update to the app in the Play Store. This is one area where Google blows away Apple and iOS. If you need to update or fix something in a core app on iOS, it takes an update of the entire OS. With Google's way, you can update the specific app in just a few seconds.

This is the way it should be.
Yep but Gmail and search have been in the play store for a while now. Aside from calendar and keyboard I don't see any other new features that are being released thru the play store.
 

Dolorian

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Apr 25, 2007
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They're transitioning into a "rolling-release" cycle. Because when they put out bug fixes (4.1.1 -> 4.1.2), it is a nightmare getting it out, then getting the manufacture to support it, then get the carrier to support it.

By having a lot of Androids core pieces available on the Play Store, they can streamline the process between updating bugs in certain apps.
Exactly. I think this is a very subtle and smart thing of Google to do and a good way of tackling the fragmentation issue.
 

hallux

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Apr 25, 2012
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Nothing new yet.

There are some things that I think could definitely be made into play-store apps that would help further this. Hence why I started the discussion about whether or not people think they're going about this route.
I think the biggest step here was the Google Play Services that rolled onto devices FROYO and newer shortly after the announcement at I/O. Play Services adds the "game center type features" as well as other items that I think would have typically been part of an OS update rather than a Play Store app.
 

jeffe

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Feb 17, 2008
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Well, yes, some things will always require a system update. But what I'm talking about is the fact that 4.2.1 had these wonderful changes:

Fixed a bug in the People app where December was not displayed on the date selector when adding an event to a contact
Added Bluetooth gamepads and joysticks as supported HID


Imagine if the people app hadn't been connected to Android proper and could have been updated on its own.
I get what you're saying. The nerd in me will point out that the December bug was caused by a bug in the framework so a system update would be required either way but they could of re-coded the app to work around it too.

----------

I think the biggest step here was the Google Play Services that rolled onto devices FROYO and newer shortly after the announcement at I/O. Play Services adds the "game center type features" as well as other items that I think would have typically been part of an OS update rather than a Play Store app.
yep I agree.
 

MegamanX

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May 13, 2013
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google left having the OS level apps to the app store a while ago.

A huge part of the reason is they are not limited to major OS releases for updates. If the update does not require a new API there is no point to make it wait until the next OS release.

For example lets take Maps on iOS. There were many many updates that it would be stuck waiting on because it was never separated out. Oh updates to mobile safari are suck waiting on OS updates. OS updates stop for the device no update to those apps. There is no reason for an app not to be updated if it does not require use of any of the new APIs.