Google has separated its Google Apps suite into two separate "release tracks": one that provides access to the latest tools as soon as they're ready, and a second that releases new tools on a regular weekly schedule. "We’re always excited to bring you the newest features as soon as they’re ready, but we’ve heard from some …
Now do this for Android
Give consumers direct access to the latest patches and code immediately for their chipset platform and provider. It may work, it may not. Give manufacturers advanced access to that same code so they "might" be able to release their own ROM pack including those changes in a timely manner following the commercial open release.
Let users get patches to ROM direct, if they choose to, allowing them to bypass both carrier and manufacturer specific code to gain access to and test new features, keep the existing model in place for custom ROMs. Ensure every device, of a given supported chipset, can use the default ROM without manufacturer modifications (accepting some limited optional features might not work).
@Michael C: "... allowing [consumers] to bypass both carrier and mfg specific code..."
NOT a good idea.
The Android device maker's warranty lines would be flooded in 30 seconds (or less):
-- -- JoeUser on Landline: "Hello <insert mobile co name here>? Yeah, I just downloaded this update directly from the Android site, and now my smartphone doesn't work..."
-- -- MobCo: "Well, that patch isn't approved for your device. You can ship your phone back for repair, but it's not covered under warranty."
-- -- JoeUser on Landline: "Whaddya mean it's not covered under warranty!? It was an Android update!! Don't you people check these things?"
-- -- MobCo: "We do, and we release updates from our own site when we're sure they won't break your phone. It takes a while between when Android releases an update and when we approve--"
-- -- JoeUser on Landline: "No one ever told me to NOT get Android updates directly!! This sucks!!" (Slams landline phone down and whips smartphone across the room in frustration. It shatters when it hits the wall.)
-- -- JoeUser on Landline: "Hello <insert mobile co name here>? Yeah, I'd like to file an accidental damage claim against my smartphone's insurance. It fell off the balcony and hit the pavement..."
I wouldn't go past manufacturer specific route...
...but I'd like to have the carrier bypassed.
Will stop anything like vodafone pushing 360 nonsense instead of the latest firmware for that device.
I think the bigger issue here is that there is no agreed upon SLA's. Google prior to signing on a new manufacturer should be setting up Rapid SLA's with hardware manufacturers to ensure their mobile platform is adequately updated. This SLA must also include a provision for the carriers as well if they wish to add their modifications (although I agree the carriers should be bypassed).
"Russian Roulette" and 1 week notice?
@Michael C, de facto this happens. Go to xdadevelopers.com, or one of plenty of other sites, and there are ROMs for your phone that incorporate newer versions of Android, fixes people have collected up, and so on. But as K. Adams alludes to, some people would not handle this well.
We used to have problems with return attempts at the surplus store I worked at -- we had normal (used but functioning) computers for down as low as $50, and scrap machines for $5-$10 -- they had an arrow saying "parts machines, as-is", people would specifically ask and I'd point out they don't run, they might need RAM or the like and quite a few have blown capacitors (but they could pop the lid and look, and I'd even point out the blown caps for them). Most people who bought them replaced the caps etc. and were happy, they'd get like 90% to run and resell them and use the rest for spare parts (these were mainly piles of Dell Optiplex GX270s so everything was interchangeable). Every so often, someone would keep asking about them like 3, 4, 5 times (not different days, like 5 times in a row), like if they phrased it right the answer would change to "oh they actually work fine" and every time I"d point out they don't run and are not returnable -- they'd buy one or two -- then come back to return them and be all shocked when I'd point out they are as-is, I told them they are as-is, and there's a giant sign saying they are as-is so no I won't accept a return. (We had to be firm on this, otherwise we had customers playing a sort of "Russian Roulette" with caps, they would want to buy and return $10 machines until they got one that worked (a few had a blown cap on an AGP slot or something that didn't affect how the system ran) and a few resellers tried to strip the machines they bought but couldn't repair and try to return basically empty cases.) It'd be just that much worse for phones if a company prereleased updates, they could stress a dozen times that they may cause problems, and some people would just hear "I get features first!!" and not accept it when problems happen.
One week notice on Google Apps? Pray tell, what happens if the IT manager tests a new version and it breaks a bunch of stuff for him? Does he actually have an option to tell Google he's having problems, and to not update his companies instances of the Google Apps?
so normal gmail will be beta and advance release will be alpha?
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