Android 4.1 "Jelly Bean": Another update most will never see

"Jelly Bean" is yet another update that you're unlikely to see delivered to your Android handset, because the major players don't have any interest in delivering it, and carriers don't give a jot either.

Mounting evidence suggests Google is gearing up to show off the next version of the Android operating system -- perhaps as early as this week.

Not much is known about Android 4.1 "Jelly Bean" beyond rumor and speculation. There have been suggestions that it will be released sometime during the second-quarter of the year, and there is speculation that Google's Chrome browser will become the default way to browse the web.

A listing that appeared briefly on Google Play for the Google Nexus smartphone suggests that Google's flagship Android smartphone will be the first handset to ship with "Jelly Bean".

The problem with Android updates is that it's hard to get excited about them.

History shows that Android updates are slow to make their mark on the ecosystem. Data collected by Google based on devices that have accessed Google Play shows that only 7.1 percent on devices are running the latest Android 4.0 "Ice Cream Sandwich" update, despite the update appearing more than eight months ago.

The most popular version of Android continues to be Android 2.3 "Gingerbread", first released December 2010 and last updated September 2011.

If you currently own an Android smartphone, this is yet another update that you're unlikely to see delivered to your handset. None of the major players have an interest in delivering the update to you.

Google is primarily interested in new handset activation and increased market share above all else, not in creating a unified ecosystem. The handset makers have sold you a phone and hope to never hear from you again until it's time to buy again. And finally, the carriers already have you hooked up to a multi-year contract and don't care a jot about what operating system your smartphone is running.

If Google really cared about you getting your hands on updates to Android it would do what Apple -- or to a lesser extent, Microsoft -- has done and take much tighter control over the process. It's tougher when you have multiple handset makers but it shouldn't be impossible to rein them in, especially for a company with the resources that Google has at its disposal.

However, it does take effort and determination, something that seems to be lacking over at Google HQ.

If you're hoping to see "Jelly Bean" delivered to your smartphone, you shouldn't hold your breath.

Best Android-powered smartphones

Image Gallery: Best Android-powered smartphones
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Image source: Google Developer Dashboard.



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