Andy Rubin: Android Will “Blow Your Mind” in 6 Months


Gizmodo had the pleasure of sitting down with the godfather of Android – you know him as Andy Rubin – and he had some interesting things to say about the rate at which Android innovates today. Specifically, he says that getting into a good software iteration process has helped the team find a groove that allows them to bring us stuff that’ll blow our minds 6 months at a time; this is opposed to the initial 18 since the first Android phone has been introduced.


He touched on some other things such as HTC’s patent war with Apple and fragmentation issues due to custom OEM skins. It’s an interesting read, so be sure to head over to Gizmodo for the full interview.

Quentyn Kennemer
The "Google Phone" sounded too awesome to pass up, so I bought a G1. The rest is history. And yes, I know my name isn't Wilson.

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  1. Can’t wait! Wish I knew what he was on about.

  2. that’s exciting news…like the way android growing up

  3. I dont agree with his perception of things. He doesn’t wants force OEMs to update all their phones to the latest software because he’s not a dictator. That’s not being a dictator, it’s being smart. Why should phones capable of handling the latest OS have to wait extended periods to just to get and sometimes, they never get it at all and lower customer satisfaction as a whole? It doesn’t allow Android adapters to use the latest features and apps and that’s not fair IMO. And the whole “legacy” concept shouldn’t be used. He’s comparing Android and Windows which is a weak comparison because of the durations between OS updates. Windows is updated every couple of years while Android users have a “legacy” software in a matter of months and he’s ok with allowing them to get penalized for that? There’s definitely a need for change and hopefully soon.

  4. THat is why my next phone will be a Gingerbread phone

  5. the reality is that the OEM’s need to step up their game. With android being open source, there needs to be custom skins for OEM’s, it makes sense because it gives distinction among 100 android phones. Now when the new version comes out, it takes time to optimize it with their custom UI and such and then they release it, which takes time and angers consumers. so its basically because the OEM’s want distinction. think about this, if everyone ran stock android, then only the hardware would be different right, and that wouldnt much of a distinction. but i think OEM’s and the Android team can definitely make it easier to upgrade, i just dont know how, but thats something they should figure out before its too late.

  6. He’s basically saying ‘we’re not Apple’, which is fine, As long as the updates are THERE for oems to use. At the moment they’re not. Yes, once they are, its the customization which will distinguish phones and they will live and die by that, but that’s how it should be. Bad oems SHOULD die if they are not up to scratch. That’s their fault, not Android’s.

  7. part of the reason why OEM’s are building custom UI’s is that there is a perception is that while Android is all great under the hood and for all those apps, they don’t have the greatest UI. So the biggest thing they can do to stop this fragmentation is to stop and think: “OK let’s make a really cool UI!”
    They have to be careful because sometimes Microsoft does this and Windows looks pretty garish with all kinds of transparency effects.

  8. Pede,

    In a way I agree with you but then again…

    PCs have survived almost 2 decades in the home and when a new OS comes out, no one holds guns to our heads and forces us to upgrade. Upgrade doesn’t always mean you get better, we should all remember that. Some software ran better on Windows 95 than it did on XP, and some software runs better on XP than it does 7 due to the development era.

    Software developers just have to adapt. If mobile software developers want to compare, how terrible do you think the software world would be if people decided to only stick to Apple instead of developing multi-platform software to appeal to all users because it is all the same?

    Or go out on a limb and say in the fashion world if no one ever released lower cuts, capri pants, or cargo shorts, and just stuck to the 1900’s and crafted poofy dresses and overalls, there would be no job in the fashion world and things would be bland.

    I think the way mobile technology is going, and this time on the Google train, is amazing and great. It will appeal to everyone’s uses, and force phone development to work harder which in turn should bring is better and bolder things.

    Just my 2 cents that they shouldn’t force it, however they should make it available for all popular devices and the OEM should have a version requirement to stick with so that up to a certain point they have to keep up with the software development to keep us from having to or wanting to buy new devices every 2 months. That is my main complaint! None of us wants to drop 500 bucks on a new mobile device just to keep up, and inevitably some of us never want to be left behind!

  9. Did you read Andy’s response to improving the keyboard?

    “Andy: I mean, if I was like a dictator I would enforce this stuff and everyone would have to have the same version at the same time and there would be a big switch with great fanfare, but it’s just not in the cards.”

    Andy DEFINITELY has no love for Mr. Jobs!

  10. just in time for the christmas price war and i got 2 full upgrades waiting.

    the first UMA android wins.

  11. awesome

    i have google voice invites
    [email protected]

  12. @Nerd – there should be a standard like you said or at least a time limit on how long the OEMs take in order to keep things up to date. I think that after Froyo, Android really needs to stop with these heavily featured OS updates and release them via the market piece by piece like an update to the music app should be an update button away instead of having to wait for Gingerbread and God knows what other desserts they have in mind

  13. froyo is very important because we have all these phones with very limited memory but unlimited SD capacity that’s not being used for apps. Other updates had nice to have features but not as important.

  14. I have seen the light I broke down and spent the nearly 600 dollars it costs for a nexus one cause I don’t want to be restricted from tehtering and I don’t want to worry about contracts or when I can upgrade the next time what it seems we all forget is theses companies want to make money that’s why they lock you in. And if you want to upgrade there’s usually a fee on your data that increases. So if you want that freedom of updates when they are released pay for it and stop your crying the fact is you pay for it one way or another with your time or with your cash. Cause if your anything like me you hate waiting when you know there’s something better out there aka froyo rooting is an option but if your not tech savy risky. I hope I’m not pissed when the next phone breaks ground and out weighs my nexus

  15. This is entirely silly. Android owners are the most spoiled owners on the planet. In Palm’s existence, they got 2 full-featured upgrades. In Storm’s, 2 as well (and they launched about the same time as Android). The iPhone gets 1 UPDATE A YEAR! All these spoiled Android owners whine and complain. You’ve got a great phone! Enjoy it while the OEMs clean out the cobwebs and release the updates. My G1 had 3 significant updates in the span of 9 months before my hardware couldn’t keep up. That’s called LEGACY!!! I’m so glad that I got those updates because before Android, you couldn’t get FREE OS upgrades or FREE app updates. Now, no one wants to pay a developer for his work (just check the comments section on paid apps or the difference between downloads on demos and their paid versions).
    The Hero got it’s Eclair (in less time than the iPhone)
    The Moment got it’s Eclair (in less time than the iPhone)
    The Droid got it’s 2.1 in 3 months.
    The Eris got it’s Eclair in 6 months.
    ALL FOR FREE!!!!!!!
    Android owners are a bunch of cheap impatient whiners.

  16. I can’t keep up! Sucks…its great, but it sucks.

  17. Oh, and by the way, since I am not cheap, and not a whiner (I am impatient) I bought the Nexus One. Problem solved.

  18. @ Ratnok

    Comparing Apple and Android isn’t exactly fair. The reason the iphone doesn’t upgrade at the same rate as android is cause Apple only releases an update once a year to ALL there devices. Android on the other hand releases it to a phone like the nexus one now and every other phone gets left hanging. Apple has 1 phone. Well 3 but there is minor differences to them. Android on the other hand has 60. So in reality its not the same. If apple releases an update every 6 months and only did that to the newer iphone but left the other 2 waiting for a few months i would think those customers would be a bunch of whiners as well. So its not exactly fair for you to call android owners whiners cause the situation isn’t the same.

  19. Thats all well and good for the geeks, but the masses out there, are not happy campers…so unless you want this os to fall by the wayside and be relegated to a few geeks, then something has to change majorly for this to be accepted by the mainstream. yea its great and cool, but if only a few who hack can get any of these things, ie froyo, flash, apps to sd, tether, etc etc, it don’t mean much, it’s all pretty much vaporware, especially when some of us have non rootable heros still on 1.5….I mean July or august as per our carrier for 2.1??? give me a break…the carriers will ruin this experience for most, hell, now most apps i need or want are 2.1 or more and cannot get them…ridiculous…

  20. Android needs to stop making so many updates. I mean its great they improve stuff so much, but they need to make the updates spread out through time more so I’m not panicing go get the latest update every month…

  21. Time to rethink this. Don’t worry, the update is really seamless. It is over the air, and you can accept, postpone or simply ignore it. What’s not to like??

    Android is leveling the playing field for all carriers: open source platform for which they can focus on true “end user” value-add rather than the OS. And those that haven’t locked into a carrier, what more can you ask for?

    If your preference is simplicity, use the device as it came out-of-the-box. No one is twisting your arm. Simplicity, ease-of-use, carefree…perfect!

  22. I think most OEMs will start making Android phones with just the default skin of Android, not only will they go to market faster, they will also get massive publicity. Imagine a froyo phone released in 1 month from now, that will get huge marketing buzz.

  23. I just think a lot of people don’t quite understand the nature of Android; how it works or where the updates come (or don’t come) from. This unfortunately falls on Google for their lack of advertising/branding, because not everyone reads tech blogs, watches multi-hour keynotes, or follows conferences. If we’re going to compare, I’d say people have been dumbed down by Apple and the way they run the ipod/iphone release cycles but you forget, Apple really didn’t have much competition in either space, so releasing updates or new products once a year worked fine for them. Like Andy Rubin said, Android is iterating at a break-neck pace; possibly faster than any other OS ever (excluding Linux maybe). The reason for this is because Android has been playing catch up for the past 18 months to become a legitimate consumer smartphone platform. When you’re iterating releases this quickly to get things up to speed, unfortunately it’s the legacy hardware owners that suffer. But that’s just the way it is… right now.

    The G1 was reference hardware for where Android was 18 months ago, and the Nexus One is reference hardware for where Android is right now. In those 18 months the hardware differences alone are staggering, and with better hardware the developers are now able to do that much more with the software. I’d find it hard to believe that anyone in the OHA wasn’t aware of this from the absolute beginning. Google made it clear that they will be developing Android at lightening speed, and it was the job of their partners to keep up on the hardware end. When that wasn’t happening quickly enough and companies were still releasing 1st-gen hardware, bam.. Nexus One. We have new software ready to go and we already told you fellas what the deal was..step your game UP.

    This is why Google lets each oem/carrier choose which type of Android experience a device will have; from Full Google Experience, all the way down to fully customized with no Google apps/market etc. Any companies still releasing 1st-gen hardware or older Android releases because of their custom UI’s have only themselves to blame IMO. They made that decision to put a custom UI on a phone, and in turn made the decision that updates would take that much longer. Yes it’s a business decision to differentiate themselves, but still a decision nonetheless.

    The main problem is that the typical consumer doesn’t understand this model. They think all Androids are the same like all iphones are the same. And while that may be partially true, we know it’s really not. Someone may walk into a store and pick up say a Droid Eris because it’s cool, cheap, does what they need, and they heard about this awesome Android thing from a friend that is constantly getting updated. What they don’t know is that potentially both the hardware and Sense UI are going to delay any subsequent updates for that particular model. And then they get upset because they’re stuck waiting.

    I hate to use this example, but Andy’s right and it applies. Remember when Microsoft made like 7 different versions of Vista and everyone went ape shit? Yes it may have been overkill, but they also realized that not everyone can afford the same level of hardware. You want the full experience? Buy a computer that can handle it. Don’t need all the shiny new features but still want the core? Sure we have a version for that, but here are the limitations up front, and just know that if you opt to go with that hardware, you’ll be legacy much sooner than the others. That’s the nature of the beast when you have multiple form factors and price points, and isn’t that what everyone wants? Isn’t that CHOICE the entire point of Android to begin with?

    So how does this get resolved? Well the break-neck development pace will eventually slow down like Andy said, so that should fix part of the problem, but I do think that Google, the manufacturers, AND the carriers should all do more to educate consumers about this facet of Android. Consumers need to educate themselves as well, and while there may be a learning curve, in the end it’s the most important factor. You learned for PC’s, now it’s time to learn for smartphones.

  24. Andy Rubin is not a dictator Thats good. but If I want my phone to be up to date with latest android version I must buy a new android phone every 6 month or buy just nexus one to keep up to date but I dont like the last one because its like ipone one os one hardware.

  25. yes, if we didn’t have all these custom UI’s, the Android experience would be much more pleasant because everyone would have the latest update at the same time (OK nexus would be first). Ironic because the whole point of the custom UI’s was to make things easier.

  26. Do we really want to have a lot of similar android phones out there? I like the options I’m given. That I can choose to go with the Google Experience or the Sense experience, or whatever else caters to my specific wishes. Sure, people don’t know what Android is, but who cares? People don’t! They like the Desire, the like the Evo, probably because of Android, but they couldn’t care less about “Android”. I’m for choice, rather than product recognition.

    Oh, and I think that if people were told that, “no, no upgrades for you”, then wouldn’t whine as much. Now we’re told “sure, you’ll get an upgrade” or “Mayhaps…”, then they whine because no other information is made available, and they have no idea when or IF this will happen. More communications give happier users.

  27. Here’s what I don’t understand. If you are talking and interviewing these everything android starts with me people why on EARTH did you not ask them to write the code for these phones (ALL ANDROID PHONES) so they all can perform HANDS FREE Dialing?! Wow such a simple question to ask yet you failed to do so? Why? People have proplems with the bluetooth and their cars. Seems their Blackberries connect and transmit contact lists with no problems but not so with the Android phones. Did you as about that? Why?!

    These features are fundamental and handsfree carries legal ramifications for being absent. It’s not like we are asking you to ask something about them supporting 3D shaders. Get with it and do the job we want you to do. Start pinning these people to the wall on this android ignored, needed, and most wanted STANDARD modern day phone features.

  28. Sorry for typos.

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