Versions don't matter, because Google now controls the platform behind the platform.

Android 4.3 was released to Nexus devices a little over a month ago, but, as is usual with Android updates, it's taking much longer to roll out the general public. Right now, a little over six percent of Android users have the latest version. And if you pay attention to the various Android forums out there, you may have noticed something: no one cares.

4.3's headline features are a new camera UI, restricted user profiles, and support for new versions of Bluetooth and OpenGL ES. Other than the camera, these are all extremely dull, low-level enhancements. It's not that Google is out of ideas, or the Android team is slowing down. Google has purposefully made every effort to make Android OS updates as boring as possible.

Why make boring updates? Because getting Samsung and the other OEMs to actually update their devices to the latest version of Android is extremely difficult. By the time the OEMs get the new version, port their skins over, ship a build to carriers, and the carriers finally push out the OTA update, many months pass. If the device isn't popular enough, this process doesn't happen at all. Updating a phone is a massive project involving several companies, none of which seem to be very committed to the process or in much of a hurry to get it done.

Since it's really hard to push out an Android update, Google's solution is to sidestep the process completely. The company stopped putting all the good stuff in Android updates. It's not that good stuff isn't coming out at all, the exciting features are just not being included as part of a big Android release.

This year's Google I/O was a show of force for this new delivery concept. No new Android version was at the show, yet Google announced Google Hangouts, Google Play Games, cloud saving of game and app data, a complete redesign of Google Play Music and Google Maps, a new version of the Google Maps API, and new location and activity recognition APIs. Post I/O, we've seen seemingly OS-level features added like the Android Device Manager, a remote wipe and device tracking system, without needing to touch the base OS.
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--jeremy