So we know that Ice Cream Sandwich is the next big thing for Android, and there are plenty of people out there that are eagerly anticipating its release into the wild. That includes the new devices, too, but let’s just focus on the software for now, shall we? With Ice Cream Sandwich right around the corner, talk about what’s after that has already started making its way around the rumor mill, which shouldn’t surprise anyone. Jelly Bean looks to be the next name, and it certainly fits with the sweets that have come before it. But, as Taylor has already discussed, some of the new features in Ice Cream Sandwich don’t look to be all that game changing. What’s worse, some of those features that we may be looking forward to in ICS may (or may not) be actually pushed back to Jelly Bean. Has Google been going about this like a video game developer the whole time?
Let me explain. If you play video games, even a little bit, then you know that there’s been this sort of wave of microtransactions that have seemingly taken over the entire ecosystem. There are all sorts of ways to integrate these miniature transactions into a game, and developers are definitely tricky with getting them in there. The best way, though, is a “free-to-play” model that allows you to play the game for free, but if you want extra add-ons and bonuses, then you’ll need to pull out that credit card. What’s worse, though, is that there’s talk that some developers out there are legitimately releasing limited versions of games, all in the hope of getting more money out of you along the way. Buy the “full” retail game for $60, but then to get “extra” levels (that may not seem so extra if you pay attention), or more powers, you’ll need to fork over just a bit more money. It’s a model that many people aren’t a fan of, but it’s a model that seems to be working.
As we all know, the updates for Google’s mobile OS are absolutely free for the consumer, and that doesn’t look to be changing any time soon. In truth, that may make this argument fall through altogether. But, I don’t think it does because of one main point: the update pattern for devices. Let’s say, for instance, that one killer feature in Ice Cream Sandwich you hear about before it makes its way to the market doesn’t actually ship with the OS. It's one of the features that get pushed back to Jelly Bean. So, while you’re okay with waiting, maybe your device isn’t part of the update path for Jelly Bean, for whatever reason. Then it becomes a big deal.
And that could go for any feature, any particular feature at all. Obviously there are some obscure features out there that you may not like, but that someone out there loves. If Google has indeed been modeling the Android updates in this fashion, where they are staggering new features along with stability, all in the hopes of making future updates “better,” then that’s a pretty interesting concept.
We’ve seen it in the past. Perhaps not in features per se, but with stability and bug fixes. For the most part, Android seems to be perfectly okay with releasing a piece of software to the world, to all the Android fans out there, that may not be completely baked. Meaning, there may be some significant holes or whatever, but as long as the main part of the engine can keep running, that’s perfectly okay. Why? Because they know that they’ve got software updates coming down the pipe ready to fix the whole thing, to smooth everything over.
Personally, while I don’t think the video game developers out there who release unfinished games are in the right, I don’t think Google is in the wrong here, by any means. In fact, their methodology for releasing software means that there is always something coming down the pipe, and it usually means that we don’t have to wait forever to get updates. Unless, of course, you’re someone who doesn’t get on the fast-track of an update – then that’s an entirely different story. Truth be told, if Google keeps this up, then that just means there are more reasons to buy the software and hardware, and that means new things more often. I like new things, so I don’t mind at all. Especially if those new things keep making me happy.