Tuesday, December 10, 2019


Last October, Google announced and shortly afterwards released the latest model of their Pixel smartphone line. In terms of hardware, the Pixel 4 boasts a nice dual rear-cam setup with wide and telephoto lenses. Software-wise however, the best reason to pick up this device is, due to coming from Google, it is the first Android-using smartphone to receive updates on the mobile OS (currently Android 10). Previous Pixel users however tend not to notice such updates due to Google releasing them exclusively to the line in little increments that are often overlooked. This week, Google announced some changes in updating.

The Verge tells us that Google is planning to shift their Android feature updates on the Pixel product line from releasing each new thing as they are ready, to bunching them up together for scheduled batch upgrades. Announced Monday, December 9, the “feature drop” system tends to make up for Google’s poorly-planned haphazard introductions of incremental updates to Pixel phones’ Android MOS. As a batch of additions that would be released in a regular fashion on fixed dates, users will more likely pay attention to what new improvements or additions their Pixel phones have acquired.

As Google VP of product management Sabrina Ellis puts it, they are looking to schedule the Android feature drops for Pixel smartphones on a “quarterly basis” per year. The move to group together MOS updates has also triggered changes in the Android development quarter, with Ellis saying, “Setting that type of structure up front is helping our teams understand how they can set their development timelines.” Furthermore, the very terminology used, “feature drop,” is being used by Google as a hip catchphrase for additional hyping of the Pixel 4, which so far has received somewhat mixed reviews from tech critics.

To further spotlight some exclusivity of certain Android OS feature updates, Google is mentioning “Pixel-first” features in the very first feature drop to be done for their smartphone line. One notable upcoming new thing is an improvement on the memory management of background apps. The Google Pixel 4 will get it first, when other Android smartphones could potentially not receive it until possibly the next version of Android after 10. The first Android feature drop for the Pixel will be done this month, and its reception will determine if this new direction on Android updates for Google will pan out.

Image courtesy of Android Police


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