It wouldn't be a bad thing if Google unveiled Android 4.3 at I/OEvan Selleck - Contributing Editor
Google's I/O conference is coming up. Here in the next couple of weeks it will be right around the corner, and we'll all finally see what Google has been working on behind the scenes since the last event. Some of what they've been working on, at least. As far as Android goes, we should see a new version of Google's mobile operating system, which should bring plenty of new features to make all those Nexus owners out there plenty excited.
Up until a few days ago, though, those Nexus owners were probably excited for entirely different reasons, if you've been keeping up with the rumor mill as of late. It looks like, at least as far as unofficial reports are concerned, that it won't be a totally new version of Android that Google will unveil in a few weeks, but instead a "minor" update to the little green 'droid.
If you missed it, here's the lowdown: Android Police, a popular Android-focused site, found evidence within its own server logs that would suggest Google is currently testing Android 4.3, with build "JWR3B." That 'J' at the start of the build points to a Jelly Bean release, rather than a 'K' for whatever major update Google has planned down the road. (Speculation has it that "key lime pie" will be the next dessert to carry the Android mantle.)
Android Police tracked the specific IP addresses from these devices within their server logs, and found that they hailed from Google itself, running on Nexus 4s and Nexus 7s. There is plenty of other details to go along with these pieces of evidence, and our own Alex Wagner tallied it up nicely for you right here.
Basically, what we're possibly looking at here isn't a major bump to Android's platform, but rather a focus to keep things a little closer to what we see now. More importantly, stick within the "jelly bean" family of builds. That goes against the grain of all the previous rumors and speculation, though, so there are plenty of folks out there who are calling shenanigans already, and are still clamoring that Google will indeed unveil Android 5.0 Key Lime Pie in just under a month.
It's to be expected that some people would still be holding out for Google's official announcement. That they'd still have their fingers crossed that a major update to Android was just around the corner. After all, it would probably mean a major change to the overall look of Android, as we've seen from previous major version changes. It would also likely mean a slew of new features, most of which would be worthy of showing off to everyone you know.
Now, it's anyone's guess what Google has in store for their next version of Android. If it is indeed a minor upgrade, then there's a (small?) possibility that the update itself is underwhelming for many who have been anxiously waiting for it. Especially to those who were getting excited to see Android 5.0 Key Lime Pie.
But it's hard to deny that if Google is really gearing up to launch Android 4.3 Jelly Bean, and *not* Android 5.0 Key Lime Pie, that it isn't a great idea. After all, it would make it easier for manufacturers who use Android to update their devices, from one version of Jelly Bean to another, rather than from Jelly Bean (or even Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich, for that matter) to Key Lime Pie. Releasing Android 4.3, which will probably increase stability, Google Now features, and improvements to Project Butter, will mean a better overall experience to the end user, too, which can't possibly be a bad thing.
"But wouldn't they include all those things in an Android 5.0 update, too?" Yes, they would, and I don't think we can discount the idea that there are already members of the Android team working on the next big update to Android behind the scenes deep within Mountain View offices, but I think with a focus on Android 4.3 means a better overall experience for the here and now. It means that the focus might not have been on shoving new features into this version of Android, but more on refining what's already there, and building a better overall experience, while also sprinkling it with new things for people to show off.
Of course, and I'm just playing Devil's Advocate here, it doesn't change the fact that every single Android device on the market will be out of date, once the next version of Android is unveiled (and released). Even Samsung's Galaxy S 4, which just launched with Android 4.2, will be out of date. And no matter if Google does unveil Android 4.3, it will still be a version behind.
But, like I said, it does mean that maybe Samsung can create an update to its newest flagship device faster than it could if Google unveiled a major upgrade. And, hey, maybe it even means that HTC will skip their "planned" update to Android 4.2 for their One flagship phone, and just go right for Android 4.3 instead.
Of course, this could all go up in the air depending on what Google unveils at I/O. Either way, I'm sure we're all going to get a nice new set of features for Android, and plenty of improvements that will make the software on our (Nexus) phones all that much better. We'll just have to see how the manufacturers handle it. Fingers crossed for quick updates!
Are you excited for Google I/O, even with speculation that the Mountain View-based company might not unveil a major upgrade to its mobile OS? Or are you even more excited by the prospect of another Jelly Bean release? Let me know!