Apr, 22 2010

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:

android22-updates

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?