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Hint: I am not pissed.  Far from it, actually.
Vadim Tkachenko's profile photoDavid S. de Lis's profile photoPhil Wu's profile photoDylan Reid's profile photo
I'm holding out just to see what the direction will be for Motorola. But the media understanding of what open source means is always humorous.
I've always felt that the tech press fundamentally misunderstands Android and this shows that yet again.

That said, I do wish there was a way to get the latest version on more handsets faster.
Andy L
Well now I'm interested what your thoughts are on this, Dianne.
It is a big problem Dianne. I would love to buy an SIII(not for the software) but I don't want to wait months before I get the latest update, if ever. I am sticking with Nexus until a manufacturer sticks with stock Android.
+Michael Salinger, it's not the first time the media has misunderstood Google.  I suppose that could be both good and bad.

In other news, the PC is dying because manufacturers ship varying versions of Windows and customize it.
Well Motorola could be used to do what the nexus has done for hardware direction. They could show manufacturers what to do in software implementation. A get on board or we will outperform you mentality.

I would love Motorola to be the first retail android device on all carriers to offer a modular android os. Start with near clean stock aosp and additional software is available from Motorola for download. The phone acts as the license key. And it encourages Motorola developers to put out things anyone would use software wise where they could profit regardless of device beyond that
+Mike Murphy Updates for Windows still come from Microsoft to all these PCs on time, it's just the big leaps and jumps like 7 to 8 that require new drivers. Android is customized and skinned by OEM and considering all the proprietary drivers for the numerous chipsets used, updates is snail slow. The article is not far from the truth saying that Android's future could become second-rate considering the way it is now. Things to improve on are not just updates either. 
If people don't want to buy a phone with true Android on it, I don't see why it should be up to Google to force them.

I do wish there was a wider selection of Nexus devices—10" tablet and a phone with a hardware keyboard please—but if people want to go ahead and buy an HTC bloated with Sense then let them. So long as they know they'll probably never see an OS update, what's the problem?
Why do they always mention Microsoft? A mobile failure that has just lost it. 
That's the beauty of Android. An open source platform with the ability to unlock hardware for your own needs.
+mathew murphy It's not that people don't wan't to buy a phone with true Android on it, they don't know that it has (what we're calling) 'true' Android, which really provides a much better UX experience for the user, and in turn the developer. It's problems that occur from all these halted updates and fixes to obvious problems in phones that Android is seen in a bad light. 

The problem with many Android phones (and why it's they're are seen in bad light) is the failed unification of good hardware and good software. Hardware keys with the use of the Menu button, like on the SIII and the Optimus G (I find it funny and also incredible stressing that the Korean UX 'professionals' are using this) make it difficult for both the user and the developer. When developers are making apps for overflow, and Samsung and LG are using the standard menu key feature, things get messy. It's a dead language that Sammy and LG are constantly using. It's the continual failed push for good hardware with good software that ruins the Android experience for people. The worst part about this is that consumers DON'T know this, and get some cheap okay phone that companies for the sake of purely business push out. User experience is first, it's why Amazon and other big name companies have exploded. It's the iPhone, the iPad, it's about me. 
Well, that's why I said "so long as they know". The question is, could Google be doing more to make sure that people know?
Wish Android was structured so that the core OS was able to be separate from these terrible skins Samsung/HTC/Motorola bake in.  So that even the Holo theme was a separate part.  Then the OS gets updated far fast, various phone/carrier apps are just that, apps, and if you get a Touchwiz/Sense/Blur phone and want a 'purer' Android, you go into the Settings/Developer option and select 'Disable Themes' 
Or there's a 'themes manager' in default Android that lets people load in/remove various parts.  Not doable atm, as so much probably baked in, but things like;
Samsung mini overlay apps button on the toolbar? That I'd like to have the option of. 
Control of the tablet I'm using uses the tablet UI or the phone ui without having to root.
Map the 'tasklist' button over to something else, or different taskmanager. 
That kind of stuff. 
Android does great (amongst many reasons of course, but) BECAUSE it's so flexible.  We, as users, love being able to mod them until they're 'just' right.  Giving that power to the users, and not the phone makers/carriers, can only be a good thing, right? (as long as there's a 'power on holding the buttons to reset!')
So all these skins we don't like, don't care what the makers do as long as I can remove/replace them please.

So, to get back to the linked article, there's no '2nd rate' anything, just  excellent hardware, running excellent software, to the user's wishes.
1. Please make a better Nexus with top-of-the-line hardware instead of middle-of-the-road hardware. People want a device they can brag about. I would rather see one Nexus but if you feel the need to make one for the average joe and a performance model, feel free to do so. Also, feel free to give the performance model a super cool name like "NEXUS ZERO".

2. Please bring microSD card slots back to Nexus devices.

3. Please pull a little more weight with carriers when it comes to Android updates. Users want to get excited over new updates, not walk away thinking "oh god, I have to wait another 4 months to use all of those cool features".

4. I am praying to whatever diety is out there that you guys used someone other than Samsung for the next Nexus.

5. Please have a solid strategy for accessories. People like to accessorize.
+Matt DelMastro
1. Middle of the road hardware? Not compared to other devices launched in the 4th quarter of last year. Hardware has been evolving to fast compare from one year to the next.

2. If you have a GSM variant with 16GB internal I could see the need. I have a CDMA variant with 32GB internal and don't miss external memory. But given Google's stance don't be surprised if Nexus devices continue without external memory.

3. I don't see a damn thing Google can do regarding carrier's decision and process to update. SIM unlocked devices are how you get around that.

4. I'm fine with Samsung though Motorola hardware on a Nexus would be great.

5. Not like there's a shortage of accessory options.

Just my 2 cents.
high end hardware in a 7" formfactor? Yes please.  7" appears to be getting a rep as 'the cheap components' to get those price points, but an occasional Nexus7+ with all the bells and whistles and a price to match? I'd be interested
The title of this article implies a problem, but after reading the article I'm having trouble seeing what the actual problem is...
Mark Ng
99% of users don't even know what version of Android they are running. Skins, carriers, "bloatware" all help Android flourish as an ecosystem. Enthusiasts have the Nexus phones to turn to. All in all Android is doing more than fine... media just needs something to whine about as usual.
+Mark Ng true... Most users want their phones to just work, like my wife.. They don't really care about updates or anything, if it works don't fix it seems to be the attitude. Having used an #ipad  on #ios6   extensively for quite sometime now, I would say #android  is definitely more easier to use and feature rich..
+Mark Ng good point. I agree that most of my less tech-enthusiastic friends don't know or care what version of Android they are on. All they care about is that the apps do what they need. The rest is quite transparent to them.

I don't know if I agree with your comment about skins and bloatware though. I think some cohesiveness will help so everyone can have a reasonable level of expectations from all Android devices.
Oh my, a different launcher and a library with custom widgets (which by the way can be overruled by the holo theme) is suddenly not a "true" Android version? Heck, if a device manufacturer has the freedom to add their own goodies (for example the Note) without sacrificing full compatibility I call that pretty amazing and maybe "true Android" from a historical perspective.
+Paul Berghege I don't think HTC Sense is true android.. They change a lot about the ROM, and kernel, even memory management.. That's why its a hard task to port custom ROMs like CM to HTC devices.. We have the source for Desire S official ICS but porting JB is hard even though it was an incremental update.. Because HTC's sources and libs are widely different from true android..
+Michael Erickson 

Here's an example of #1: The Galaxy Nexus had a 5MP camera. It was a very fast camera but the boost in speed was not quite worth the fact that every Galaxy Nexus owner I know always followed that entry on the Spec list with "5 MP is good enough" or some other qualifier or justification coupled with clenched teeth.

That can't happen with a Hero product like a Nexus phone. Users need to feel confident and proud. It may seem silly but that's a little slice of the social/consumerist pressures we're seeing today.

2. I don't want to hear "Oh, you'll never need it" or "You'll never miss it". If it's an extra feature, I want it. If it makes me love my phone a little longer, I want it. If it allows me to use my wireless connection less, I want it. If it keeps me from dealing with low memory situations before I'm ready to upgrade my device, I want it. Taking away removable storage gave people one less reason to choose a Nexus device over the competition. I know I sound like a spoiled child but I want to have a device officially supported by Google with removable storage.

It's easier for those who don't want it not to use it on a device that has it than the other way around.

3. Do whatever Apple has done to keep all of the carriers in line with iOS update releases. I've never seen a Verizon iPhone get an iOS update after an AT&T iPhone or the international version. I know that Android has far more variables to deal with and they're iterating faster but Google employs some of the best and brightest. If Apple can manage to launch updates at the same time across all of their devices, so can Google (with the Nexus devices, at least).

4. I wasn't as impressed with Samsung's Nexus devices as I was with HTC's Nexus One. I'm even more impressed by Nokia's Hardware... that gear is nearly indestructible and looks pretty slick. There are how many OEMs building Android devices? I think one could manage an elegant yet durable design that feels substantial in one's hand.

5. Can you name any Nexus device accessories? I can only name one: The Galaxy Nexus' Car dock that took forever-and-a-half to become available. That's the problem.

I'm only saying all of this because I want to see Android and the Nexus brand improve.

PS - If Google wants to really make a splash, do something somewhat unorthodox such as releasing a Nexus device that has no jacks (or whose jacks are covered in some distinct way). Wireless charging, uses bluetooth audio gear (with some official Nexus earpo-er-phones), Miracast for playback on TVs... the works.

Push the envelope.
+Prem Suraj I think that "true" Android is defined by the set of APIs that are supported. If it supports at least all the public APIs it is "true" Android in my book. Devices like the Kindle Fire and Nook Tablet on the other hand are according to this definition not "true" Android devices in my opinion.
A subset. One that substantially restricts what a developer can write for it.
As far as I know (but this might have been changed for the new Fire, although I don't think so) you can't (for example) write input methods for it, or use the notification system, access the calendar and contacts database, create desktop widgets etc. But again, I might be wrong and the new Fire might support all APIs. I've searched on the site but it seems that it now supports all APIs (it even contains a link to the full API docs). Have to check this.

If not, the documentation is pretty misleading.
Kinda agree with the article. I have a Nexus phone and I hate the lame customizations made by others. Every time I take my father's HTC phone into my hand I think uhh, you're not having the same awesome experience I do. Far from it.

Not to mention the OS update delay.
Oh, so now wired has discovered the fragmentation myth. /me rolls eyes
+Jens Finkhäuser and the comments on that article are cringeworthy. If Internet Trolling was an Olympic sport, we've got the makings of a gold medal winning dream team right there..
Mark Ng
+Tony Chan I agree about cohesiveness, but I meant that if Android didn't allow for skins and "bloatware", companies would be less likely to promote Android as much as they do. Every player wants to sell their own brand and if they weren't allowed to, they would simply turn to something else. Verizon wants to sell their VApps, Samsung wants to sell their TouchWiz, etc. In other words, skins help Android grow. 
+Jens Finkhäuser Myth? I develop apps for Android, and the fragmentation of OS versions is a frequent bother. It may be that the problems fragmentation cause is exaggerated, but I find it is hard to sell clients on the implementation of new features that only five percent of their customers get to see, etc. And we have to write animations twice to straddle the honeycomb divide. It may not be the downfall of Android, but it is a legitimate problem which makes a lot of user's experience with Android less than it could have been.
+Dianne Hackborn , you know best, but please reign your hardware partners in. Jellybean looks and works better than any of the customisations out there. These skins were originally there because Android, in its earlier days, didn't look too good; and the OEM's took it on themselves to make Android look a little better.

But now, I look at the wonderful work +Matias Duarte  & team have done in 4.1 and then look at the likes of Touch Wiz and clearly see that 4.1 stock is better than Touch Wiz in every single way. When the original is better than the customisation, it's time for the customisation to go. All of them.

Get the OEM's focussing on timely software updates and differentiation in hardware. Any of their own apps they want to keep to their own devices can be done easy enough through Google Play.

I'm all for Android being on a billion different devices. But I'm also all for all those devices being on the same OS version, especially 4.1 Jellybean, which is the ACTUAL worlds most advanced mobile OS. Nothing is stopping this save for greed & apathy on the OEM's part.
Wonderful article! That's a great way of putting the current scenario.
They lost me at " and all the companies that have failed to upgrade their customers’ Gingerbread devices to Honeycomb." :-)
+Arild Jacobsen The "myth" part is not the fact that Android is a fragmented platform. The "myth" part is the fact that Android isn't more fragmented than other platforms, unless the only other platform you know is iOS. [And let's be perfectly clear here, iOS is fragmented, too - it's just that the distribution of incompatible OS versions is different.]

I know and agree it's a bother, but try supporting different Desktop OSes or OS/browser combinations instead. On the OS/browser combination front, I can tell you that as the owner of a software testing company, that we can easily cover 95+% of the Android market with testing on maybe 4-5 devices in most cases. When it comes to website testing, 4-5 different combinations of OS/browsers barely scratches the surface.

If you picked Android as your development target platform, you've picked a very, very homogeneous platform.
+Jens Finkhäuser A fair point. Reading over my comment again before posting, I realize how argumentative it sounds, so I'll preface by saying: I agree with your debunking of Android's fragmentation as worse than other major platforms.  

That being said, the "Others have it worse" argument can easily hide the point I am trying to make: I am not really dissatisfied with the Android platform as a developer or a user, but I would argue that decreasing the time from the release of a new os until it is in the hands of the majority (or at least appreciable portion) of users would be a worthwhile goal. I'm not demanding perfection, but it's always worth striving to be better. The reaction to negative hyperbole should not be to get so defensive we deny there's room to improve. 
I know that the article does not understand android ecosystem, but I really want Google to man up. What happened to the GN on Verizon was demeaning to say the least. Man up slap OEMS in the face.
I think Android was lucky. If Microsoft had a more appealing UI, if Windows Phone 7 was able to be upgraded to WP8 (winmo users were also burned when they learned that their fancy new HD2 couldn't be upgraded to WP7)  then Android would be in trouble. Why is it that I can get instant updates from Microsoft for my custom built Windows PC but I can't get Android updates direct from Google?
+Andy Hall We're never going to have jelly bean on ALL the Android phones out there because many are very cheap and don't meet the requirements. But at least the phones that meet the spec should be on jellybean but they aren't.
+Ari Haviv you said well... "IF" :-p. I'm sure that if Android engineers could afford to break compatibility and unleash legacy problems (almost none in Android) so to not live with decisions of the past made with technology deficiencies of yesterday in mind, if they could base everything on recent advances, if they could afford freedom of creativity to start over many times, if they could learn from mistakes and successes of others made along the years, if they were on the limit of irresponsibility to Osborn their own OEM partners and alienate current customers, if they could take away hardware choice from the customer to make their job easier, then, I guess anyone could be in trouble.

In the meantime, Android now provides a familiar yet advanced interface, very smooth by jelly bean, all while keeping compatibility and working well even with point and shoot cameras. And we are still waiting for Microsoft to finish rebooting their model yet again. I can buy a JB phone right now... Android wasn't lucky. It provided what people wanted, before everyone else (with Apple). How can time to market be confused with luck?

Remember: when that Santa game for Android was made, people were on Windows Mobile (as in 6.x).
Mark Ng
+Ari Haviv Android was not lucky. Their timing definitely gave them an advantage, but a big part of why they succeeded was the fact that they allowed manufacturers to skin their devices. Manufacturers love branding and Android allows them to do this. WP8 will never be as successful because companies like Samsung will
always be more interested in promoting a heavily branded TouchWiz Android phone than a generic stock WP8 device.
+Mark Ng It's all related with Microsoft's blindness to their UI. They don't realize how awful it is and they don't want anyone to mess up their pretentious work of 'art.' Imagine this scenario: someone goes into a 5 star restaurant and orders a large plate of BBQ ribs. He gets a large plate and in the middle there's a tiny slice or 2 of boneless sous vide rib, delicately charred with a blow torch and accompanied by BBQ sauce foam. It's just... not going to work.
From a devs perspective Android is a mess just like early linux distributions were. This is not related to open source software, it depends on the organization/architecture of the project.
My four favorite android versions/forks are HTC Sense, Jelly beans, Touch Wiz (on their note 2 devices only, not on their other non pen devices), and the latest LG rom on their quad core (I forget what it's called). Each version offers me something uniquely different. The same goes for the underlying hardware from each manufacturer. I don't consider this a problem at all. One phone with only one monolithic os can not possibly satisfy everybody. 
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