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Have “major” Android updates become “minor” Android updates?

About three weeks ago I asked if you would rather use the latest version of Android despite it being relatively lightweight on features (Nexus/Pixel), or a slightly outdated version of Android which gave you more additional software features (OEM skins). Unsurprisingly, 76% of 1500+ voters chose the former [https://goo.gl/piQlJq]. This question wasn’t a one-off, but part of a larger thought process I have going on. The second part of my thought process is the significance of major Android updates as they stand today.

Do any of you feel like major Android updates as of late seem to be less major and more minor? Android O was recently announced at Google I/O, and I can’t really identify any big new feature which is supposed to be the marquee feature of the release. We got new emojis. That’s something, I guess. I’m not saying there aren’t any new features, of course there are. If you follow Android Police’s “Android O Feature Spotlight” you’ll see there’s a lot of new stuff in O. It’s just that many of these “new” things are mainly just enhancements to existing features. Smart text selection was improved. Multi-window got upgraded to picture-in-picture. Notification Dots is new, but hardly a marquee feature. It’s just a new way to see notifications. There are of course lots of under the hood improvements, but those come with every new version of Android. The point I’m trying to make here is that there seems to be less and less reason to be on the latest version of Android as soon as it comes out, and I think Google is doing this intentionally.

Google is well aware that the majority of Android users get updates months after it’s actually released. Sometimes almost an entire year later. That’s why we have things like Play Services and the newly announced Project Treble to help mitigate the problem of slow updates. Another thing that Google is doing to help improve the mobile experience is to actually improve other products. Google is improving Android by not improving Android. Think about the Google Assistant. It started as a Pixel-exclusive feature, but now it’s available on millions of Android devices. All they need is Android 6.0 and above. People love taking photos on their phones and Google knows this, so they made Google Photos, possibly the most intelligent photo gallery out there. And what makes these two products so great? Artificial intelligence. True to its word, Google is pushing the development of A.I in line with its vision of how the world is moving from a mobile-first world to an A.I-first world. Google Lens is a product of this approach, and its integration into the Google Assistant and Google Photos shows how Google can make Android better for millions of users immediately, without needing to update to the latest version of Android.

The writing has been on the wall for some time now. Google wants to make Android better but it can’t do that with its yearly Android updates. OEMs will just halt any progress Google makes and in the end consumers are the ones who pay the price. By restricting Android updates to system-level enhancements and making the most useful, innovative, and groundbreaking tools outside of Android, Google is able to make the mobile experience better for everyone, not just Nexus/Pixel users, as soon as possible. And when I say everyone, that includes iOS users who can now have the Google Assistant on their iPhones in addition to Google Photos.

When A.I is what drives our smartphones, being on the latest version of Android may no longer be as important as it once was.
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If Pixel is out of your budget, or just not sold in your country, these brands are the next best thing. Very close to stock, among the earliest to get Android updates.
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I'm still sharing my thoughts on Android Oreo over on my Twitter.

Link if you're interested - https://twitter.com/JazliAziz/status/908261843008757760
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If you wanna hear my thoughts about Oreo, be sure to follow me over on Twitter.
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It's great that the Twitter app let's me save drafts of tweets. I can write my tweets and just post them later whenever I want. No such feature for Google+ though.

PS: The Twitter app also lets me crop images before posting. The Google+ app doesn't.
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Last preview before the final public version is released.

#AndroidO
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Played around with Android's new Motion Stills app today. Got a pretty neat looking time-lapse of Federal Highway from it.

Link to app: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.google.android.apps.motionstills
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