Android 2.2 Allows Automatic App Updates?


android22I was a bit skeptical when a user from 4chan claimed to be an “android trusted tester” and posted screenshots of a MyTouch 3G supposedly running Android 2.2 Froyo – afterall we know how easily those “About” screens are faked. But after some trolling (“No one cares, take this $#!* to XDA”) and small talk (“is it nice”, “hurr”) the OP follows up with a picture that has me (at least partially) believing. Well, not ONLY believing… also yearning for the arrival of 2.2.

You see, if the below pic is the real deal, then we could see an option to allow applications on your Android phone to automatically update when new versions of that application are available:


You really don’t understand how long I’ve, well, longed for this. I would have settled for a “bulk update” feature that allowed you to view a list of updateable apps, select multiple apps with a check box, and 1-touch update those chosen, but this is even more desirable than that. An app-by-app bulk update option does has some other benefits, and I hope they consider including that as well, but this would be a magnificent step in the right direction.

Often times it’s the little things that make or break a use experience and this option will definitely make Android better. It’s overwhelming to have 75+ apps installed and see 34 apps have updates waiting in Android Market. I just shake my head at the status bar, cry a bit inside, admit defeat and go on using my old applications unless I already know something golden rests in one of those new APKs.

And of course, if you’re enabling automatic updates, a feature where you allow manual downgrades or rollbacks of applications would be appreciated. Nothing would be worse than to see a company hastily release an update that unintentionally glitches up your phone, leaving you stuck with a broken app and no way of turning back.

There are some potentially interesting side effects that could come of this as well:

  • What if a developer launches a really simple application in hopes of baiting as many downloads as possible, waits until they have a mass quantity of installs, and then release an update that is either malicious or intends to collect user information not previously agreed to in the original app download. I’m guessing Google will only allow automatic updates when applications have no additional permissions compared to their previously installed version, making an alternate bulk update option even more attractive. Of course the onus should also be on the user to only agree to automatic updates from companies they extremely trust.
  • Developers could more easily migrate from a 100% free application with no ads towards showing display advertising here and there without making it so obvious. Instead of having an app, updating it, and then realizing you’re suddenly inundated with ads, developers could slowly integrate different monetization strategies without bombarding users. Some people will hate this but personally, I think its great for the developer community.
  • Less fragmentation. The phones, operating systems, specs, carriers and a lot of other variables already contribute to an ecosystem that will inherently have some level of fragmentation. With automatic updates at least developers will be able to more easily push their latest wares out without having to worry that a large quantity of people are having different experiences for different reasons. And ultimately, this will allow them to provide better customer support.

This is all just rumored discussion coming from one thread on 4chan so take the chatter lightly, but its an obvious move for Google to make and one I will gladly welcome. Has anyone else been dying for an upgraded upgrade system?

Rob Jackson
I'm an Android and Tech lover, but first and foremost I consider myself a creative thinker and entrepreneurial spirit with a passion for ideas of all sizes. I'm a sports lover who cheers for the Orange (College), Ravens (NFL), (Orioles), and Yankees (long story). I live in Baltimore and wear it on my sleeve, with an Under Armour logo. I also love traveling... where do you want to go?

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  1. people often downplay 4chan as a news source, but if anything they’re incredibly fast on the trigger, and attract a lot of testers and industry specialists (anonymity = no threat of legal action, and Moot doesn’t really give out IPs unless it’s the fbi or something)

    the video games board, /v/, for instance, will be almost up-to-the moment on releases of pirated copies or cracks of games.

  2. Where is Automatic OS Update? Automatic App Updates? Who cares when you stuck to android 1.5 .If google continues this way without a little bit notice about our outdated android user finally android became another Windows Mobile SORRY .An Inconvenient Truth.

  3. Hmm, I didn’t know the Android market didn’t have a bulk-update option for all your apps (I don’t own an Android phone yet, tho I’m about to)… Hasn’t iTunes had that from the very beginning? At ‘least my iPod touch always had that… Just seems like common sense.

    Guess this is one of those small usability things people overlook when comparing Apple’s OS to Android… Hopefully Google improves upon it soon, the chatter looks interesting, there’s certainly better ways of doing it than a manual bulk update option at the user’s request.

  4. Not sure if you noticed, but this appears to be an app by app automatic update feature, not a bulk/global one.

  5. Any1 else find it kinda funny that the mytouch is running 2.2. When the the my touch is still waiting for 2.1!!

  6. He has a point though, there isn’t any bulk update option, pressing through each updating and accepting permissions is tedious.

  7. dude, aint u suppose to protect ur sources and junk? some dude over at /g/ i freaking out, gonna get fired and junk!

  8. How is it googles fault that HTC hasn’t been able to launch a 2.1 update with Sense modifications?

  9. Good point about being able to rollback to earlier versions. As a developer, I get pretty nervous releasing a new version because you never know what you might have just broken.

    Much better would be a way to mark a release as “stable” so that users can decide whether they only want stable releases or are happy to risk the less-tested ones. This could be a global setting or per-app.

  10. A very worthwhile development

    and the bigger news/possibility; 2.2 running on the MyTouch 3G. Fingers crossed for my magic getting more life at some stage.

  11. If this is real, then surly the big news is Android 2.2 Froyo running on a MyTouch 3G !!! does this mean we may not be stuck on 1.6 afterall? I’m up for skipping 2.1 on my Magic :)

  12. Oh, the Android OS is light years ahead of and nothing in comparison to WinMo… I barfed at the thought. lol I for one wouldn’t allow ANYTHING automatic, even with apps already on phone, I always look, read reviews and check to make sure that the changes in updated apps are changes I want to accept. Otherwise, I keep the older version. Not all updates have to do with improved or more stable usability, etc. To be sure, I backup apps so that even if I do update, there is always my own rollback feature in spite of the Dev’s wishes. Same will go for the 2.x updates… buyer beware, you just might be happier with the 1.x version you have. Bottom line is it is all dependent on what your needs are from the phone. If it does all you need, then why bother to update? Unless of course you always want the newest and bestest… lol – but just like a PC, you can’t and shouldn’t expect to run todays newest software on a PC thats even a year old sometimes… it just don’t work out too well. Anyway… my 2 cents on the subject. :)

  13. I wrote an article a while ago about App Update overload and OMG this is a fantastic feature. I just turned off update notification on my wifes phone as she we over getting application update notification. This really is a feature for the average consumer. Tech junkies may have an issue with this. I hope there is a global setting that you can override on an app by app basis.

    This goes right after the iPhone and the ease of use. Both on the iPhone and via iTunes you can do bulk updates. I for one would love this on ROM Manager and Beautiful widgets as they both update frequently.

    I think I have a tear in my eyes hoping not only that this is true but Google figures a way to back port this as we know how long it takes the carriers to push updates. The HTC Eris is still waiting on an update.

  14. i hope he/she leaks it. I’d love to see this on my g1.

  15. I bet that its just Google apps that auto update

  16. I was under the assumption automatic updates are already part of Adroid 2.0 & 2.1? I say this because my wife’s Droid has always gotten automatic updates for apps and the OS.

  17. No ‘thank you!’? :( It’s okay. :)

  18. nice job linking to a 4chan thread mate, they only last a few hours…

  19. Maybe the answer is that the 2.2 “increase in free memory” is for real, and it’s good enough to fit froyo into the magic’s 192 mb of RAM…?

  20. I have a mytouch and run atrackdog which automatically updates all my apps at once. How is this different and more importantly what more of a utility would it serve.

  21. It might only be for Google’s apps or other apps that come built into the phone. Notice that the app is Google Maps and the “Uninstall” button is disabled. This would be in line with their de-fragmentation strategy of keeping the core apps up to date even if the OS isn’t updated as regularly.

  22. “Stuck at 1.5” is unfortunate, but also a temporary thing. The cell phone market is geared toward units being replaced every 2-3 years. The vast majority of people will do just that, and the problems tend to go away.

    The real problem, of course, is that updates require the participation of the vendor, not just Google. Things have improved, but consumer electronic companies have had be dragged, kicking and screaming, into the era of device upgradability. It used to be, you finished that phone, and you were done. Period. No more involvement with that product other than the occasional repair or production glitch. Now you have to update software, test it, etc. Which takes time away from the next product development.

    Thus, some companies do it well, others, not so much. This should become, in fact, one of the criteria people use in selecting their next Android device.

    I also think there are things Google could do to ease this issue. Part of it’s a real problem with the OS architecture, though. They really should have split the OS between a hardware-dependent layer and the regular applications layer. Motorola and HTC and all could supply both layers in their new phones, but it would always be possible to replace 1.5 with 2.1 at the application OS layer, which would talk to the same hardware abstraction layer as 1.5. At worse, there might not be APIs for new hardware devices, but older hardware wouldn’t have those, anyway, so it’s not a problem.

    Think of a PC model… only, imagine all the drivers for that PC were also in the PC’s boot Flash. You could drop any old OS onto that PC and expect it to work properly, as long as it could access your PCs device abstractions.

  23. I, for one, would NEVER turn on anything that automatically downloads huge files on my phone. Over here, in Germany, you *can not* get an unlimited data plan (the best you can get is plans that allow you to use 5GB/month of 3G data, and after that, you’re capped to GPRS speed. Or you don’t get a data plan at all and have to pay 0.25€/mb at least. Or you get a new one every time you get 5€/month. All those solutions are way too expensive)

  24. in which board did you find this rob?

  25. @hazydave

    You’d still have 2 issues:
    1- The HW abstraction layer would be bound to drivers, those that today prevent (or have prevented for months) custom 2.1 ROMs for Dream and Magic
    2- The application layer cannot evolve without drivers evolving. Mind you: 2.0 introduced OpenGL ES 2.0 (with new drivers inbetween)

    I bet HTC has modified Android sources to a great extent, and that’s why they need so much time to adapt Sense to 2.1. Just mind that Android keeps backwards compatibility, 99% apps written for 1.5 would work on a 2.1 system…

  26. @hazydave
    Thanks for your comment.
    here is my email to HTC after hero update joke.
    (( OK Im going to buy and htc incredibl and enjoy android 2.1 but after a few months android 2.2 or whatever released and again I should waiting for another damn know in android these damn waiting never ends.THE ALL USEFUL LIFE CYCLE OF A HIGH END ANDROID PHONE IS AT LAST 4 OR 6 MONTHS.LIKE MY htc HERO )).

    AND now here is HTC respond.
    (( Hi, I’m Victor, and I will be glad to assist you today.

    Thank you for your interest in the new HTC Incredible device. At this time we have no information on when the Android 2.1 update will be released for the Hero device. Once the update is released it will be pushed to your device as an over the air update or it will be posted on our support site for your device. I do apologize for all the inconvenience that this issue may has caused you )).
    All these problems just remind me windows mobile updating issue. I really love Android but now the only thing Android needs is a update system like windows phone 7 otherwise it became another windows mobile.

  27. I would hate that. I can barely stand having update notifications because I generally avoid updating most apps. If it works and does what I want, I generally don’t update bc some updates cause apps to force close, etc. Fortunately I’m happy to see that an auto-update feature can be turned off. Why I love Android.

  28. @All those complaining about OS updates.

    There are solid development communities dedicated to improving on the existing OS and releasing sections from newer builds to older phones. Outside of custom roms they even make available early releases of official roms. My friend has been running the unofficial 2.1 update on his Droid Eris (HTC Hero) for months now.

    All of the phones that are potentially getting “left behind” are effectively first generation phones. The efforts involved to release a product that a corporation is liable for are significant. So if you are impatient for an official release see what the community has to offer.

  29. As far as the bulk update questions, I am new to the Android OS. I purchased a Nexus One about 2 months ago. I have owned every version of iPhone since it’s induction. The bulk update feature did not come along until OS 2.0. Apple had it’s growing pains just like Google is now. I will say I do like Android but it is not nearly as polished as the iPhone OS as of yet. Google has a very talented stable of developers (some from Apple as well). I am sure as we get Froyo we will see more inovation and maturity of this OS.

  30. I for one would be very wary of automatic updates. Look at what happened to Windows XP with the McAfee AV update. On the other hand, I really DO want the ability to update multiple apps at once.

  31. When will mytouch get 2.2?? Im waiting

  32. @ anyone waiting for 2.1 on older phones,

    Wake up and smell what the Android is cooking, you will most likely NEVER get an official update for the G1/MyTouch/Behold2/Eris/MotoCliq, those phones just don’t have the hardware needed to run it “Efficiently”. This is the same thing as trying to run Windows Vista on a 486, YES its a PC that can run windows, but just cant run the newest versions due to hardware being to old. Problem with cell phones is the life of the device is a lot shorter than most PCs

  33. any news?

  34. How come I could test out Android on my old windows mobile phone by just copying some files over to the memory card using a usb mem card reader but now I have an Sony X10 I can not install or update my phone because I do not have windows?

    I have 9 days to return my handset. SONY have said over the phone to me that they will NEVER support Linux via their update software. They also said a patch/update will be coming out for the phone to fix the rubbish battery life. BUT I can not update it without a WINDOWS PC > XP service pack2!

    And their software is java eclipse!

  35. good news thanks…

  36. All these problems just remind me windows mobile updating issue. I really love Android but now the only thing Android needs is a update system like windows phone 7 otherwise it became another windows mobile.

  37. you know I just find it so annoying that after driving my car about 300 miles I have to stop a put more gas in the tank. I wish they’d fix that little issue. Its such a drag! Its the same saith my diesel pick-up truck. And get this every time I take a crap I have to wipe my a** and then to top it all off I have to wash my hands afterwards.

    STOP! Its life people. Get over it. You want upgrade your phone you have to reload your apps. Just a bunch of pussies. This whole thread- whiny, snivelling pussies. You should all go back to apple. That entire outfit is run just like a Nazi police state. You’ll love it there. Whatever they say goes. whatever price they charge you’ll pay…

  38. Hi, Steeve, much better would be a way to mark a release as “stable” so that users can decide whether they only want stable releases or are happy to risk the less-tested ones. This could be a global setting or per-app.

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