Google I/O, the company's annual developers conference kicks off with a keynote address tomorrow - in the evening in the UK, morning locally in the US - and that means there will be plenty of things announced or talked about that will interest far more than the coding community in attendance.
The latest version of Android, Android M, is widely expected to make an appearance. It won't be released for a while - at least, we don't think so - but the first indications of the features and design aesthetics it will bring to the table will be on show. It will also, apparently, be relevant for a year only as reports have emerged that Google is finally going to adopt a similar release policy to Apple and majorly update its operating system on a yearly basis.
Although the company has pushed annual updates in the past, it has stuck within similar parameters with some of the releases. For example, Android KitKat was within the same category as its predecessor, Jelly Bean and even the older Ice Cream Sandwich. Each were variants of Android 4.x.x.
In future, Google will jump between versions. Android M, for example, is expected to be the street name of Android 6.0 (or, at least, a sweet starting with the letter "M"), and the next year we'll get Android 7.0 and so on and so forth.
This is the suggestion of company executive Hiroshi Lockheimer, the engineer in charge of Google's operating systems.
In an interview with Fast Company, he revealed that a regular major update pattern is important to the network of partners and customers alike. "As we've grown as a platform, we realise that to some extent predictability is important for the whole industry: developers, manufacturers, operators and consumers, frankly," he said.
"So we've landed with sort of a yearly cadence of big releases, so, for instance, one year we release J, the next year we release K, and then the year after that L, and then this year we'll launch M, and so you can predict what will happen next year."
But whether that will help manufacturers and networks turn around their own updates any faster, bringing you the new OS to your phone in a more speedy fashion, is yet to be seen.
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