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The more things change, the more they stay the same
By Thom Holwerda on 2015-06-12 10:37:57

When Android Wear came out over the course of last year, Google promised that the young, new platform would receive updates "early and often". While it wasn't said with so many words, it's easy to read between the lines: Google was going to make sure Android Wear users wouldn't face the same headaches as Android users when it comes to updates. Wear would be a more tightly controlled platform, built in such a way that updates could go straight to users' devices without meddling from carriers or roadblocks thrown up by crappy customisations.

Fast forward to June 2015, and Google has recently released Android Wear 5.1.1, which, despite its humble version number increase over 5.0.1, is a pretty significant update to the smartwatch platform. It enables WiFi on devices that support it, adds new ways to interact with your watch, and makes it easier to launch applications. All in all, it looks like a great update.

Sadly, I can only go by what others have told me, despite owning the poster Android Wear device - the Moto 360.


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Read Comments: 1-10 -- 11-20 -- 21-24
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Voting with my wallet
By darknexus on 2015-06-12 11:45:57
> This situation has gone on long enough now, and it's time we, as users, put our money where our mouth is.
And how do you suggest we do that if we, quite literally, don't have an option to vote for? Should I buy a Nexus 6 even though I find it to be far too large and overpriced on the magnitude of an iPhone? Should I go back to the iPhone, which I can't stand, or go to Windows 10 Mobile where almost none of the apps I use exist? Blackberry? don't make me laugh. I'd love nothing more than to vote with my wallet but, save for buying a used Nexus 5 (which won't make any sort of statement) I do not have anything to put my money into that works for me. In the end I had to compromise and go with a Moto G 2nd gen (and by the way I still don't have the 5.1 update). The only way we can vote, I guess, is to never buy a phone from any carrier, but I do that already as a matter of course to avoid bloatware and expensive long-term contracts. Somehow I don't think carrier or no carrier sends a message to Google, or the phone OEMs. And don't give me any of that custom rom stuff. I know about it already. We're talking about voting with our wallet here, and what rom you install sends zero statement to anyone. Now, if we start seeing a large string of Cyanogen phones hit the market and we get updates on those no problem, then I'll cast my wallet vote there when it comes time for a new phone assuming they're not gigantic.
Permalink - Score: 7
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It's not that bad, really
By ekollof on 2015-06-12 11:50:10
The Moto 360 might not have gotten the latest, but it had pretty weak hardware right out of the gate. The LG G-Watch which came out before is running 5.1 now, and so is the Samsung one that came out at the same time. Just because your 360 isn't updated isn't strictly Google's fault, but Motorola failing in speccing it correctly (and hyping the damn thing as *the* watch to have). LG did a way better job in providing more future-proof hardware.

I never liked the 360 (flat tire, booo), and rocked my G-Watch for quite a while, and it works fine to this day. I gave it to my wife and caved in to buying the Urbane. Yeah, specwise it is the same as the G-Watch R from LG, but it is a thing of beauty.
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Sigh
By timby on 2015-06-12 12:49:01
This is why I moved to the Apple eco-system. While it has downsides, I'm at least "current".

Please fix this Google, and I may come back...
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Comment by sb56637
By sb56637 on 2015-06-12 12:54:06
Very interesting (and depressing) post.

I'm not a developer, but I gather that Android development is very much a closed-development ecosystem, despite its guise of openness. As a matter of fact, it would appear that there are actually *two* layers of closed development in Android compared to Apple's one layer. In the case of Android, Google develops a new Android release behind closed doors, throws a ball of code over the fence, and then the OEMs start a new round of development/modification/in tegration/uglification behind THEIR closed doors.

I honestly don't understand why Android devices aren't upgradeable in two big atomic chunks: an underlying kernel/hardware layer, and a frontend GUI that can be updated apart from the underlying OS. With desktop Linux, I can install/remove any number of desktop environments on any of my very different laptops, despite their diverse hardware components, without touching the kernel or the underlying system. This allows me to run cutting edge Linux on systems that are more than a decade old. So why can't Google let the OEMs provide the underlying kernel tweaks and drivers specific to their hardware, while Google just releases a new GUI with new userland features?

Edited 2015-06-12 12:57 UTC
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Look at FirefoxOS
By Lennie on 2015-06-12 13:08:38
When FirefoxOS was shiny and new, they tried to do it right.

FirefoxOS had a bottom layer, the kernel and video drivers.

And a top layer, the runtime, renderer, GUI and system apps.

Mozilla tried to make it so that the Mozilla would do updates of the top layer and the botton layer would be handled by the manufacturers or providers.

But they just couldn't get manufacturers and providers to go along with these ideas.

Now remember that the Android situation is much worse.

Maybe it's just me, but if FirefoxOS with their great plan can't succeed. How do you think Android is every going to succeed with getting this, right ?

Edited 2015-06-12 13:09 UTC
Permalink - Score: 3
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RE: Voting with my wallet
By gan17 on 2015-06-12 13:58:01
> And how do you suggest we do that if we, quite literally, don't have an option to vote for? Should I buy a Nexus 6 even though I find it to be far too large and overpriced on the magnitude of an iPhone?
Size, price, and overall fugliness aside, I'm not even sure if the Nexus 6 is getting updates as timely as the Nexus 5. I recall reading that Google went back to partnering with carriers for this device (mainly because of the steep price). I assume those that bought it outright directly from the Play Store will get timely updates, but what about those who got it from carriers?
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RE: Voting with my wallet
By drcouzelis on 2015-06-12 14:00:24
> And how do you suggest we do that if we, quite literally, don't have an option to vote for? Should I buy a Nexus 6 even though I find it to be far too large and overpriced on the magnitude of an iPhone? Should I go back to the iPhone, which I can't stand, or go to Windows 10 Mobile where almost none of the apps I use exist? Blackberry? don't make me laugh.
Get a Jolla mobile! Android application support PLUS you get official system updates BEFORE they're even released!

...Sorry, I know you asked me not to make you laugh but I just couldn't help myself. :D But seriously, I love my phone.
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RE: Look at FirefoxOS
By leech on 2015-06-12 14:57:20
The reason we have the situation now is... why upgrade the OS and breathe new 'life' into older devices when they can get people to sign up for a new contract and get a new device?

That's been my whole problem with the smart phone 'revolution' in general. It's as bad as the computer industry not too long ago, where software would continuously be coming out but they'd require the latest hardware to run decently so you'd end up having to upgrade your computer every year or two. Now a 5 year old system can still be useful, which is why there are so many "Oh my god, PC sales are down, no one buys PCs anymore, they're dying!' uhm, no, they don't sell as much because no one needs a new one constantly.

But as far as alternatives to the big two... Damn Jolla, why did you have to skip the USA... I'm still looking forward to my Jolla Tablet :D
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RE: Sigh
By Morgan on 2015-06-12 15:09:14
I'm in the same boat. Lack of consistency and stability with Android, combined with Microsoft's "we forgot how to release a flagship Windows Phone" has pushed me back onto the iPhone for the first time in several years. And to be honest, it has improved greatly as a platform. So far I've been pleasantly surprised. Still, I wish I had held onto my Nokia N900; for what I paid for this iPhone I could have put in a pre-order for a Neo900 board.
Permalink - Score: 3
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RE: Comment by sb56637
By acobar on 2015-06-12 15:34:42
> gather that Android development is very much a closed-development ecosystem, despite its guise of openness
Nonsense, if it was closed we would not have projects building different images.

> why Android devices aren't upgradeable in two big atomic chunks: an underlying kernel/hardware layer, and a frontend GUI that can be updated apart from the underlying OS. With desktop Linux, I can install/remove any number of desktop environments on any of my very different laptops, despite their diverse hardware components, without touching the kernel or the underlying system. This allows me to run cutting edge Linux on systems that are more than a decade old
Actually, this is not true. There are packages that rely on more up-to-date libraries and you just can't install them without upgrading also the libraries. It, actually, may trigger a cascade effect at which point your best option is to upgrade to a new version of your distro of choice. Been there, done that, don't botter anymore. It the thing is too old to accept a new distro I just give it to someone and buy a new one. Didn't have to do it in like 4 years, though.
Permalink - Score: 3

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