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Android PDK Could Help Manufacturers Update Devices Faster Than Ever

It took all of 2 minutes to announce the Platform Development Kit (PDK) at I/O this week, but going forward, it should change the way device manufacturers deliver updates to you. What exactly is it, you ask? The PDK is early access to the newest Android build for hardware and chipset makers. So companies like Motorola, HTC, Samsung, NVIDIA, and Texas Instruments will now be able to prep their current and future hardware for the newest version of Android before it ever goes public. 

For example with Jelly Bean, Google gave a “few” of their hardware partners access to the PDK over the last couple of weeks to help them make it ready for more partners. After receiving feedback, it is now live for all partners to take advantage of. Going forward, PDK’s for new Android releases will be made available 2-3 months before the code ever drops to the public.

You can probably imagine how important this is going to be for future software updates. If OEMs have access to Android months before it is ever announced, they can attempt to have it ready for handset or tablet deployment at launch. This would give them the opportunity to launch new devices with the newest OS and hopefully turn around and update previously released phones faster, as well. They will essentially be able to watch Google develop new versions of Android and start working on porting it to their hardware along the way.

We aren’t exactly sure who the “few” partners were that helped them develop the PDK, but you have to assume that Asus is one. We wouldn’t be surprised if most of the Transformer line all received Jelly Bean within days of it going live, which just so happens to be mid-July.


  • feztheforeigner

    Which means we get to see the leaks starting even earlier for Android updates, awesome!

  • jeres88

    So…. Google is basically going to just release the next version 2 – 3 months later next time? I’m not sure if this is really going to speed up anything or basically just make it look like things are “sped up”. In all honesty, the only way that updates will get out faster, would be to cut out the OEM’s all together…

  • This won’t change Motorola, though.

  • Npompei

    I also think this is big news that got little to no talk (yet) But as others have said, it still comes down to the carrier.

    Basically 75% of people are on GB. Which means all of their phones are 2 updates behind. That is fragmentation no matter what way you look at it. So they will need to get a new phone (god forbid from verizon from here on out – christ that new LG is getting GB) just to pray that Verizon can figure out their bloat on the new phone 2 months sooner.

    So this is great news but honestly its at least 12 or so months from actually beinlemented into all new phone purchases. Sure people can Root, but there’s a problem when oems cant keep up with the latest and greatest. I love Googles approach – upgrade and put it out asap. But lets be honest, only 5% or so can really take full avantatge of it in a pure form

  • ics has been out for how long??? 3 months isnt gonna do a thing for verizon updates

  • scott Wilson

    This may help kill the term “Fragmentation”… Good going Google!

  • This is something that google should have been doing for a long time…

  • Wait, so is the PDK some kind of interface like the SDK, or is it basically just an beta version of the whole thing?

    • the PDK is for developing drivers, kernel modules, etc. (low-level coding) to ensure compatibility for the newest software version, which will be in beta testing at the time. The SDK is for testing app compatibility with an emulator simulating device hardware.

  • Fake solutions

    The misconception is that rooting solves all your problems. It doesn’t. My gnex has worked the best ever only after an official 4.04 release from Verizon. All the rooted roms in the world are useless if the user experience is sub optimal. Rooted roms are far from the panacea most make them out to be. You might get satisfaction from having the latest rev in your status screen but don’t expect it to always be polished. Please.

    • Actually, many non-carrier ROMs are MORE polished than those pushed down by carriers. They are almost always faster, more efficient with battery life and storage, and free of the bloatware that plagues OTAs.

    • htowngtr

      IMO the opposite is true. The baked, rooted, and modded options are better than stock VZW. The only difference is maybe in radio and BL firmware.

    • Mapekz

      Agreed. Most custom ROMS emphasize the “custom” aspect, adding a lot of bloat that I could care less for (I stopped using AOKP because I don’t want a lame pink unicorn on my boot screen by default or in the settings app). Stock AOSP ROMs are limited and lack some of the optimizations custom ROMs provide but don’t possess the bloat those custom ROMs introduce which undo a lot of their optimizations.

    • John Galt


  • Steve Wojciechowski

    There should be no excuses now for OEM’s to update devices!

    • Except for hardware incompatibility, which is what has screwed half the devices not getting ICS.

  • Jeff Tycz

    You can probably imagine how important this is going to be for future software updates.”

    Not to mention early leaks of new versions!!

  • TheDrunkenClam

    That transformer infinity is looking quite epic. Just wish it had 2gb ram instead of only 1

    • Austin00

      Was think ting the same thing I won’t buy another android tablet until it comes out with 2gb of ram

  • Wonder if this will spawn leaks of new versions well ahead of release that Devs will run with?

    • Jon

      Was wondering the same, it will now pass through many more hands before it hits the streets, leaving many more opportunities for a leak.

      • Theoretically, but its also possible that the PDK will require an NDA, which would help shore-up a good bit of that, especially if they included PDK signatures so they could easily track down where the leak came from. The last thing Google would want is Apple or MS getting their hands on the software months ahead of its announcement, so they can bring similar features before or immediately following.

  • John

    I hope JB means the end of garbage skinning from manufacturers.

    • I’m totally okay with choice, so skins are fine – as long as it’s an exclusive one-click uninstall to bring the device to stock Android.

  • hmm…

    Doesn’t this just mean that it takes just as long to get to the public AND longer for Nexus owneres? Think about it, if the Android software is ready to release, it goes to the partners now instead of being publicly announced. This slows down new versions getting to Nexus devices and everyone else will have to wait just as long as they would have anyway.

    • Not necessarily. I got the impression they may give the PDK as “beta” software to start working on, then keep polishing it.

      • hmm…

        But then OEM builds will be based upon the “beta” software, not the polished version. It will still be a game of cat and mouse.

        • True, but once in “beta” they’re supposed to be feature locked and just smashing bugs. You would hope they could just apply their changes over the top again. I know this is how a lot of “code partnerships” work today with my company.

  • InyRules

    Manufacturers and carries still want you to buy new handsets, so I doubt this will really “help” them get updates out faster. At least know we can email Samsung/Motorola/HTC/whoever and say “You’ve had this for 3 months, where’s my update?”

    • Which has worked so well up to now….
      OEMs have realized that they need to better support their devices or their sales will suffer, hence is why they have reduced the number of handsets they put out each year. Motorola hasn’t announced anything new in over 6 months, which gives me hope that they’re really going to push something big with their next set of phones.

  • Most handset makers realize that many of us are gluttonous and continue to buy phones before our contracts are up, and some maintain multiple lines on family accounts just so we can get discounts (Verizon’s new shared data plans kinda squash this ability now, however). As such, they are incentivized to keep the latest and greatest OS out of our hands on new phones for a while after release so we give in to the itch of buying a new phone. I doubt a kit is what they need. They need an incentive. Maybe ad-revenue share if running latest OS?

  • Al

    This still won’t change nothing. Back to playing the waiting game lol.

    • RedPandaAlex

      Yep. If you care about updates (which honestly most people who don’t read blogs like Droid Life don’t), get a Nexus

      • Mapekz

        “get a Nexus on a carrier that doesn’t have any control over your phone updates*”


        Unless you are on a update channel that links your phone directly to Google with no middlemen in between you will not get timely updates.

    • PC_Tool

      “This still won’t change nothing.”

      This changes everything?? 😉

  • possomcrast1

    If they were apple they wouldn’t have done this purely because they didn’t want other companies to compete. Google could keep the lead every year but they want other companies to be successful too.

  • ddevito

    As @twitter-6938202:disqus and @Greg Morgan have said….indeed this was the sleepy giant of this year’s I/O conference.

  • Nex__

    My only question is, will they? Whats their incentive, we all know they should. but will they?

    • teleclimber

      Yes, probably. The driving force will be competition. One manufacturer will do it because it’s their style (Asus? and maybe HTC?) and the others will be shamed into following or risk losing market share.

      • Nex__

        LOL “shamed into following”. Its sad if it has to come to that.

  • ddevito

    This is Google’s way of saying “we handed it off to you bitch, [fragmentation] it’s your problem now “

  • I’m glad I’m not the only one who noticed this during the keynote. I thought this was one of the most important announcements made. I’m not sure if it will actually speed up development, but theoretically it should.

    • Shelbz

      I was wondering why the blogs haven’t hyped this up more. It eliminates any excuses OEMs have in regards to Android being built around a specific chipset. Theoretically HTC could release JB the same day it’s released to AOSP now.

      • As could any of the major players…if they didn’t need carrier approval.
        We’ll have to see how this plays out. I think that this PDK is going to improve the update cycle, but the carriers will still be the stop-gap in the whole deal.

  • Greg Morgan

    I was watching the I/O keynote because i missed it and after seeing this, I think this is the most important announcement from this year’s I/O. No more excuses for updates taking forever!

    • teleclimber

      I agree this was the kind of announcement I was waiting for the most but I would have missed it had I walked away from the live stream for all of 30 seconds.

      My biggest frustration with Android is that my one year old phone is now two major revs behind and will probably stay that way. This announcement gives me hope that this kind of problem is in the past.

  • Michael Forte

    This won’t stop Verizon from taking months to test the updates though.

    • ddevito

      and it won’t stop Droid-Life from showing us how to do it ourselves :p

      Cheers DL! (and XDA, Rootwiki, etc)

      • TheDrunkenClam

        Plus 1,000,000

    • Mike

      I think everyone is a bit sick of hearing people bitch about this. If you dont like it, move to another carrier or get a non nexus phone.


      Stop bitching, root/rom, enjoy timely updates and additional functionality.

      • moelsen8


        develop a sense of humor.

        • lgreg64

          it’s not a tumor

          • moelsen8

            hahaha they’re monsters!

          • Moto’s boot loader is a tumor a malignant one at that. Needs 5,000,000 CC’s of chemo ASAP!

      • Michael Forte

        I always root and ROM my phone, I was talking about for those who don’t. I Not everyone wants to go through that process (even though I think it’s pretty easy). I People who run stock software should not have to wait so long g to get updates though.

        • Champion1229

          I have always wanted to root and rom my phone but every time I find a tool that can do it, theres some type of update that goes through and the tool no longer supports my version of the software. Moreover, with HTC announcing ICS in June-July for my Rezound I decided to wait and see what new features ICS brings and then go from there on whether or not to root and rom to get Jelly Bean. And I can’t wait for the ICS update because with the ICS there is said to be no more lock that HTC puts on FoxFi so I will be able to use the WiFi version of FoxFi and not just the bluetooth one! 🙂

        • PC_Tool

          “I was talking about for those who don’t.”

          Then let them complain.

          The last thing we need is a bunch of white-knights complaining for the complainers… or us complaining about the complaining for the complainers.

          Er…wait, what were we talking about again?


      • TheDrunkenClam

        I think he should be bitching about this, just directly to Verizon by phone or email instead of on here…. Let them feel the pressure…. not saying it’ll help though!