Android has become somewhat infamous for slow (almost unbearably so) updates for users of pretty much any non-Nexus device. In fact, when Jelly Bean was announced earlier today, the first thought on some users' minds was that their handsets haven't even tasted Ice Cream Sandwich yet.

Google is well aware of this issue, though - last year, it made an attempt (albeit a feeble one) to solve the problem with the Android Alliance. I think we all know how that turned out.


This year's I/O saw a related announcement: that of the Android PDK, or the Platform Development Kit. In short, it's a set of tools which will aid manufacturers in porting new versions of Android to their devices and which will be released to said manufacturers a few months before the public launch of each major Android update. In theory, this should mean that manufacturers will be able to have updates for their handsets prepared by the time they're announced - exciting, isn't it?

It remains to be seen how effective this solution will be in practice, however - carriers (who don't really need to be involved in the update process but are anyway) will likely intervene, which could slow things significantly. Additionally, marketing decisions will continue to be necessary, meaning that your two-year-old device may not be updated at all so as to incentivize the purchase of a more recent handset.

Still, at least hardware developers will now be able to get their paws on new Android versions sooner, so those devices whose fates do contain a few more updates should receive them in a more expeditious manner.

Google reports that "select" manufacturers have already been granted a chance to try out the PDK with the release of Jelly Bean - we'd assume ASUS and Motorola are among their ranks, if not Samsung and HTC. Hopefully the group isn't too "select" - I think we'd all like to see faster updates on our devices.

Jaroslav Stekl
Jaroslav Stekl is a tech enthusiast whose favorite gadgets almost always happen to be the latest Android devices. When he's not writing for Android Police, he's probably hiking, camping, or canoeing. He is also an aspiring coffee aficionado and an avid moviegoer.

  • Anthony Vella

    Regardless if it's ported to the phone, the true enemy behind the delays are the stupid custom UI's they apply to Android the time it takes for carriers to test the phones. They might have took off 1 month but it's still about an 8 month delay.

  • http://twitter.com/rohanXm Rohan Mathur

    No, they will just take the extra 1 month to "Improve the Android User Experience"

  • br_hermon

    I really think this was one of the "under the radar" announcements for today's keynote. One of those things that no one really saw coming, not a lot of people may be talking about it or notice it but has HUGE implications on Android going forward. I'm really excited to see what comes of this.

  • chris125

    We can only hope that will be the case. Honestly it would make sense to do a sort of beta test like apple does with their updates before hand especially since the updates that manufacturers put out sometimes have a lot of bugs and take forever anyway

  • Marcus

    Will the PDK be released to anyone I wonder. If so it could help with CM and the like as well.

  • Dexter Dyall


    • LazarusDark

      No. CM said in response that they don't do SDK's. They use source code only.

      • Elias

        Ah, the nerd's way is always best. Let's optimize!

      • http://codytoombs.wordpress.com/ Cody Toombs

        I'm not sure if CM has commented on this specifically, and I want to look into it more directly, but I'm pretty sure this is going to be more of a package of test suits and documentation that help with updating drivers and custom UI to conform to the new version.  It's true, some of that stuff isn't directly applicable, but I'd think it would help with creating drivers (especially for open source hardware like OMAP).  I can't be sure how helpful this would be to Cyanogen, but it would be helpful.

        While I'd really like to see Cyanogen get access to this, I doubt it will happen because it's clear that Google wants this to stay under NDA (at least, until the OS version is formally released), and I'm pretty sure that's at odds with their organizational structure.

        As I see it, the real benefit to the PDK (for us), is that we can now hold OEMs responsible when they delay too long with updates.  It should also speed up announcements regarding which devices will get the updates.

  • Freak4Dell

    I'm sure either the manufacturers or the carriers will still find a way to screw this up.

  • http://twitter.com/_eliasalberto Elias

    So, manufacturers and carriers will become much more efficient in embedding crap on our phones and screwing the android interface? Wow! Now I can realistically expect to buy a speedy phone with 16gb storage, and receive a device with 340mb free which is as fast as a paused slideshow.

    • http://twitter.com/_eliasalberto Elias

      Single notable exception: Galaxy S III. It obviously comes with lots of Crapware©, but some of its software modifications are actually useful.