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Google to limit Android major updates to one a year

Warwick Ashford

Google is likely to slow down the development cycle for its Android operating system to only one major upgrade a year, says Andy Rubin, vice-president of Google's mobile platforms.

The comments are in line with Google's efforts to address concerns in the Android community over the platform's fast pace of evolution, according to US reports.

Handset manufacturers and developers have struggled to keep up with Google's release of six major updates of the platform in 19 months.

"Our product cycle is now basically twice a year, and it will probably end up being once a year when things start settling down," Rubin told the San Jose Mercury News.

He said it is difficult for developers to keep up with a platform that is moving. "I want developers to leverage the innovation. I don't want developers to have to predict the innovation."

Rubin's comments came as Dan Morrill, open source and compatibility program manager at Google, tried to assure Android application developers worried about fragmentation. Stories on fragmentation are dramatic, but have little to do with reality, he said in a blog post.

Android developers need to list what features their application requires, and then Google's Android Market will present that application to only those devices capable of running it, Morrill said.

For example, Morrill said Android 2.1 and above makes telephony functions optional, so manufacturers can build Android products without calling functions. Those Android applications that rely on telephony functions would not be available to such devices via the Android market.

"The choice is in app developers' hands as to whether they want to live on the bleeding edge for the flashiest features, or stay on older versions for the largest possible audience," Morrill wrote.

"And in the long term, as the mobile industry gets more accustomed to the idea of upgradeable phone software, more devices will be upgraded," he said.


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