Source code released for Google Play Editions, questions raised over software updates

by: Gary SimsJune 27, 2013

HTC One Google EditionNow that stock Android versions of the HTC One and Samsung Galaxy S4 are available directly from Google Play, Google has created a mirror of the GPL licensed source code that is used for the initial factory state of these Google Play Edition devices.

From a marketing point of view, pundits have been asking what is the difference between a Nexus devices (like the Nexus 4 and Nexus 7) and a Google Play Edition – since both devices run stock Android (well almost) and can be bought via Google’s online store. The answer, it would appear, can be found among the developer chit-chat.

Having announced the source code mirror, Jean-Baptiste M. “JBQ” Queru was asked if all the proprietary binaries needed to build a working version of the stock firmware would be available from Google. The answer – no!

OK, what about any plans to release stock firmware images, like the ones for the Nexus devices? According to JBQ, Google has nothing planned.

This then begs the question about future software updates? How will these devices receive the latest version of Android? What happens when Google releases Android 4.3 or Android 5.0? Will these Google Play Editions get instant updates like the Nexus devices? It doesn’t look like it.

Since OEMs like Samsung and HTC don’t have a very good track record when it comes to releasing upgrades to Android, this new twist could be worrying for those looking for a cleaner Android experience on one of these handsets.

According to Droid Life, which has been in contact with some public relations folks over at Google, the Google Play Editions won’t get new software releases as quickly as Nexus devices, but the updates should come out shortly after an official Android release.

[quote qtext=”On background, we will be working very closely with Samsung and HTC on future software updates for these devices and they will receive software updates shortly after a new version is released.” qperson=”” qsource=”” qposition=”center”]

Of course, what “shortly after” means is any ones guess, but let us hope that this is measured in days rather than months!

And so there is the difference. The release of the source code, binaries and stock firmware images for Nexus devices are handled by Google and new Android versions are pushed out via the Android Open Source Project. For Google Play Editions, Android updates are handled via Samsung and HTC. All the propitiatory stuff remains in the hands of the respective OEMs and any decisions to release stock images or the driver binaries remains solely theirs.

Does this taint your desire for a Google Play Edition of the HTC One or Samsung Galaxy S4 or is their use of stock Android the most important point for you?

  • Android King

    Well there isn’t any reason for 1 to buy any of the 2 Google Editions.

  • Munchic Pham

    In the future, there will be a lot of Nexuses, so Google won’t update them immediately to the latest Android version. So Google will make something new, for example : Nexus 2 and the situation will be the same. Then Nexus 3 and etc …

  • Fantastico

    The great thing about Android is that it’s open source. Users can download and flash a new OS or simply compile one themselves.

    • Piyush

      but they are buggy and not always reliable and many user dont know how to do that custom rom thing .

      • Fantastico

        That’s because they’re stupid and should be using iYawn or something. Anyone with some basic knowledge of computing will know how to find and flash the best ROM for their droid. ROMs don’t have to be buggy if you choose carefully.

        • Piyush

          How do you know if it is buggy or not without using , dude you are so wrong , custom rom is not easy as you think if you are not careful you may end up bricking devices , many of them don’t have time to that custom rom thing also, you ask your family what is custom rom see what there reaction is . This are average user dude.

        • AndroidBrian

          “They’re stupid”? I don’t think so. I use to flash ROM’s a lot. It’s time consuming and the novelty of it all wares off quick. I use to be obsessed with it actually because it gets addicting. Then I realized how much time I was wasting just so my phone can look a little cooler and have a couple of new functions. Now I only use Nexus devices. People spend top dollar on there phones. They want it to be perfect out of the box.

          • Fantastico

            Most out of the box droids are stuffed with bloatware and carrier branding. The open source community creates clean, customizable ROMs so that average users can make their phone experience as personalized and perfect as possible. AOSP, CyanogenMod and others are key to Android’s success.

          • AndroidBrian

            My point is average users don’t care. Android is the most common OS used today now. Its not just phone geeks using it anymore. The average phone user can’t even tell you what a ROM is. So no its not key to it’s success. Its a nice option for phone junkies like you and myself to have.

  • jenymoen

    Then there will be no point for me to update or buy the Google Play Edition, because the ability to upgrade quicker is the only reason for me to consider buying it. I like Samsung’s skin on Galaxy 4, and hopefully they will get they’re ass in gear when it’s coming new versions of Android.

  • Piyush

    nexus 4 still rules than

    • Durry

      Then, yes it does

  • Guest

    I’m thinking it’s up to Samsung to remove the OS integrated navigation buttons because the Galaxy S 4 has the physical navigation buttons on the phone. I bet that’s the only change.

  • Durry

    If this article is true im trully dissapointed, i just bought my htc google edition…wow

  • districtjack

    I just bought the asus nexus 7 and as soon as I turned it on it updated to 4.2.2
    I’m a happy camper because it is not full of carrier or manufacturers software/apps. Its a 32GB edition and I will get the new Android systems as they are released (or until 1GB of RAM becomes obsolete).

    I have the LG Optimus LTE and if I need to buy another phone in the future, it will definitely be a Nexus 4. After experiencing the Nexus 7, I will not be buying a “branded” phone again. Why would I not want the latest Android OS asap?