Have We Reached the Pinnacle of Mobile Advancement? Google’s Android M Fails to Impress

by Matt Klassen on June 2, 2015

Last week Google unveiled Android M, the latest iteration of its popular mobile operating system, and it seems the search engine giant has once again taken a page out of Apple’s playbook, not by copying some feature or service, but by taking a distinctly evolutionary, rather than revolutionary, approach to this latest upgrade.

While Android M improves things like app permissions and power management, and even paves the way for mobile payments, there was nothing in the presentation that would, well, make anyone care. Like Apple before it, it is abundantly clear Google is content to take an incremental approach to mobile perfection, offering smaller tweaks instead of revolutionary redesign.

And I suppose no one can blame the likes of Google and Apple, as this far into the mobile game their respective operating systems have matured, reaching a saturation point where they don’t really lack any major features leaving companies only to tweak the platforms here and there. Simply put, the sad thing about the mobile market is that, for the time being at least, there will be nothing to excited about, nothing to blow our minds, nothing that anyone would call revolutionary or game-changing, as companies are now content to maintain the status quo through incremental upgrades.

The biggest disappointment with Android M, however, was not that it failed to sufficiently surprise us, but that it outright failed to address the biggest problem plaguing the Android ecosystem, OS upgrade times and the resulting fragmentation. In comparison to Apple’s in-house program, where OS updates are available to users on the day they’re released, Android users often have to wait, as the problem with being open source is that everyone who uses Android wants to put their own stamp on it, meaning upgrades are slower, meaning more devices run older versions of Android, meaning the fragmentation of the OS continues unabated.

To wit, here I am with my now antiquated Samsung Galaxy S4 still waiting, not for Android M of course, but still for KitKat, Android 5.0. With so many partners and upgrades happening so fast, the simple fact is that such OS improvements are rolled out at an agonizingly slow pace.

What is even more surprising is Google’s approach to Android fragmentation, as back in 2011 the company acknowledged the difficulties having multiple versions of its OS existing in the Android ecosystem, particularly when it comes to the security of older, no longer supported, versions of the platform. Today, however, it seems Google has admitted defeat in the battle to maintain uniformity, adopting the tagline “Be Together. Not The Same.” Of course this togetherness is quickly forming into some sort of caste system; where the haves are able to enjoy mobile security, and the have-nots…well they can enjoy mobile malware.

But back to Android M for a moment, as the truly depressing thing about such a disappointing upgrade is that it likely speaks to a plateau in mobile development, a point where without truly radical innovation—perhaps changing the smartphone form factor for instance—that we realize we have reached the pinnacle of advancement in this industry; we have all the mobile features we’re going to have and the only way to go from here is, well, sideways.

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Written by: Matt Klassen. www.digitcom.ca. Follow TheTelecomBlog.com by: RSS, Twitter, Facebook, or YouTube.

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