December 2, 2023

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I hope Android 14 inspires as many app updates as iOS 17 did

I hope Android 14 inspires as many app updates as iOS 17 did

Whenever Apple releases a major operating system update, as it did last Monday with iOS 17, iPadOS 17, and watchOS 10, developers — both big but especially independent — release a slew of day-one updates to support the platform’s newest features.

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Capabilities include this year:

  • Interactive tools on iPhone and iPad
  • StandBy gadgets on the iPhone, which inherently feature Smart View and could serve as the basis for Apple’s Nest Hub/Tablet competitor.
  • Smart Stack widgets on Apple Watch, as well as broader updates to wearable apps to support the new UI

I understand how Android’s update model is inherently different from Apple’s. Specifically, updates only roll out on Google’s Pixel phones, which have a relatively small market share, while the lion’s share of Samsung’s Android phones are typically weeks or months behind. Third-party Android developers have no incentive to update on day one because the majority of their users won’t have the new operating system for some time.

Moreover, there aren’t always a lot of new platform features that app developers can adopt. The last major visual change that warranted updates was the redesign of the media player that was introduced with Android 13. When this operating system launched, core first-party apps like YouTube, YouTube Music, and Chrome had already been updated to support the new design. However, it took nearly four months for Spotify to update its app to Android 13, and other big streaming services took even longer.

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An update when Android 13 first launched for the Pixel would have been the best thing as a good citizen of the platform, but you can’t blame the developers for not prioritizing it, given the user base at the time. By comparison, iOS update adoption is instant for many iPhone generations.

However, the counterargument is that Android users don’t completely miss out on new features from their apps, especially first-party apps. Various Google apps across the Play Store are updated frequently and offer new features without being tied to the operating system version. I think Android users get more functionality this way than iPhone owners. Then there are the new platform capabilities offered via Google Play Services.

Models vary, as Apple is able to make a big splash with an annual major update (such as 17.0) and some minor updates (17.1) two or three times a year. I would say that users of Google services will get one of their apps for new features on almost a weekly basis.

I prefer a constant drip of additions, but I can admit that Apple’s annual big OS release is an enviable moment for new apps and features.

From 9to5Google

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OnePlus unveils OxygenOS 14, built on Android 14, and it’s absolutely packed with buzzwords

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