At face value, Google is doing what it can to fight Android's fragmentation. It doesn't even matter if it doesn't go any deeper than face value, either, simply because this is the first time they've tried to get a handle on it, and that's all that really matters. With the announcement of Android 4.4 KitKat, Google has finally made it possible for a new mobile OS to get installed on older devices, thanks to being able to work on handsets (and other devices) with as little as 512MB of RAM.
As quickly as Android has grown, and with how quickly the specs race has caused that, you can imagine that there are quite a few devices out there that can theoretically fit that standard. So, at face value, a lot of old devices that never got upgraded in the first place could be upgraded to the newest version of Android and just wipe away the majority of the "fragmentation is the worst!" argument.
The reason I'm saying it's at face value, though, is the fact that Google isn't even upgrading their own Nexus-branded old hardware. As far as we we know at the time of this writing, Google is only upgrading the Nexus 10, Nexus 7, and the Nexus 4. Google has a prime opportunity to show off how powerful and robust, and adaptive, Android 4.4 is by upgrading a device like Samsung's Nexus S, but apparently that's not happening.
(Not officially, anyway. Obviously folks with that device will figure out a way. It is a Nexus, after all.)
But the Galaxy Nexus and Nexus S fall out of the 18-month window that Google looks for to upgrade devices, which makes sense only to a certain extent. The very idea that you're allowing Android 4.4 KitKat to work on these older devices, and then citing a reason like "they're old" for not upgrading them seems silly. But, I think we can say that that's not really the point, then, is it? While Android 4.4 sounds great or old devices, it's obviously meant for new, low-end handsets.
Which just means we're apparently combating the fragmentation thing moving forward, and not necessarily patching up what's already been done. It's a smart move, sure, and it makes the most sense for hardware and support. However, we all know there's going to be another version of Android, a newer version that could potentially break this whole idea, early next year. Let's hope Google stick with the plan at least for a little while.
The truth is, I'm actually really happy with Android right now, and even more so with companies that haven't really cut it over the last few years. Specifically, HTC. I know that my fellow editor, Anna, feels the same way, too. But it isn't just HTC, but Motorola, too. As soon as Android 4.4 KitKt was announced alongside the Nexus 5, both HTC and Motorola revealed news about their plans for upgrading handsets, and soon. The only real hang-up is Verizon-branded HTC One owners, who are already waiting an extra month to get Android 4.3.
This has always been my major issue with Android, and I'm glad to see it's getting fixed, slowly but surely. It's one reason why I've always stayed around the Nexus lineup, just so I didn't have to worry about software upgrades (burned me with the Verizon-branded Galaxy Nexus, though). But if HTC and Motorola can work quickly to upgrade their devices to the newest version of Google's mobile OS, and other companies like Samsung and LG can do the same thing, then there really isn't much room to complain about the little Android that could.
This is good news for Android users moving forward. It's just all around good news in general. And it means that one of my biggest issues with the platform is finally being fixed, which I'm excited about.
Do you own a device that you purchased in the last year that you're hoping will get upgraded to Android 4.4 KitKat? Or do you plan on purchasing a new phone, like the Nexus 5, just to make it a safer bet? Are you happy with the way that Android is moving forward?