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Directly From Google or Not, Google Play Editions Will Receive Updates Shortly After They Are Released

google play edition

Shortly after Google made the new Google Play Editions of the HTC One and Samsung Galaxy S4 available, stories began to run with fear that updates would not be directly supplied by Google and that OEMs would still be a part of the equation, causing delays. I think I even saw someone claim that HTC and Samsung would hold updates back, and not release them until they had their own skinned versions of updates ready for the carrier-tied versions of the same phone, as to not show preferential treatment. Except that logic goes completely against the point of these phones, but yeah, it’s getting wild out there. 

These worries began because select media outlets with the devices in hand noticed that the kernels for each have been built by HTC and Samsung in both GPe phones. Oh no! That means that the OEMs are still a part! It’s like the Galaxy Nexus LTE on Verizon all over again…or something! Ok, not so fast. Settle, folks.

We reached out to Google PR to get some clarification on the subject, and have news that you should have expected from the beginning. Actually, this is essentially what Google told us from day 1, when they first announced the “Nexus experience” phones. Updates will be timely, as Google will work directly with HTC and Samsung.

This is what Google told us:

On background, we will be working very closely with Samsung and HTC on future software updates for these devices and they will receive software updates shortly after a new version is released.

So there you have it. Whether they are coming directly from Google or not, they have committed to supplying updates “shortly” after new versions of Android are released. Even with kernels being built by the OEMs, there won’t be significant delays or any other shenanigans.


  • John

    That answer (from Google PR) is completely meaningless. They will receive updates “shortly”. What does that mean? And it is clear that the device manufacturers are still in charge of the update. We won’t know until the manufacturers make a definitive statement (better than “shortly”), and even then it will be trusting them, not Google. And manufacturers have mislead the public (often) about when and whether devices will be updated.

  • Mo

    Cost too much $$. Can I get a nexus from someone else but Samsung on Verizon already?? What’s taking so long for the biggest wireless carrier to get cracking?

    • Brandon Golway

      CDMA is proprietary and Verizon hates unlocked devices on their network, they screwed up the Galaxy Nexus and were being pains in the butts with the whole “no bloatware thing”. If Verizon DOES see another Nexus, it will probably be all LTE.

  • saint_stephen

    I’m strongly considering pulling the trigger on the S4 GE, but want confirmation that it does indeed support T-Mobile’s HSPA+ AWS 1700MHz band. The Play Store link does not show it, but given that they had the wrong processor info I was unsure. Especially since they seem to suggest it does support it here: https://support.google.com/playedition/answer/3222967

    Also, in Anandtech’s hands on they stated that the version they used was pentaband and that only the HTC One GE didn’t support the T-Mobile 1700 HSPA+.

    • Brandon Golway

      It’s pretty much the exact same device but with a different ROM, I don’t see why it wouldn’t work.

  • Jeremy Martin

    You always have another option on Verizon for a “GED” type device. Buy the Droid Razr HD/MAXX, Samsung S3/S4 etc.. Unlock the boot loader and flash CyanogenMod or some other AOSP based rom on the phone. Not provided directly by Google but you will get more features and quicker updates than waiting on VZW to push out updates stock. Also with the newer promised Motorola/Google products coming out to Verizon I am willing to bet Blur is minimal and AOSP will be more prevalent on the phone. Just a hunch though. Or get the Galaxy Nexus and have a Nexus 🙂

    I have the Droid Razr HD MAXX with an unlocked bootloader running CyanogenMod 10.1 on it. Works great…has a few glitches but a great community behind it resolving the remaining issues.

  • InvaderDJ

    First, I really don’t think Samsung or HTC care at all about these phones. Samsung did it to play nice with Google and HTC did it because they need money. Samsung and HTC are all about their versions of Android. If it isn’t Touchwiz or Sense, they couldn’t care less.

    I don’t see these phones getting updates the same day, the same week, or even likely the same month as a Nexus, . The simple reasons are that it would look very bad for them and they don’t care. How are they going to explain to people that the Google Edition Galaxy S4 has 4.3 and whatever cool features it might bring while their phone doesn’t have any information on updates at all, with a realistic time frame for getting it months away. I mean, look at the situation now. If you look at the big OEMs (Samsung, HTC, Motorola, LG and Sony) on the big 4 carriers in the U.S. (T-Mobile, Sprint, at&t, and Verizon) you have a pretty bleak picture on updates. Out of all the Android phones sold on contract in these places you have literally 1 phone on the current version of the software. The Galaxy S4. And that released with 4.2.2. Think about all these phones. HTC One, Optimus G, Xperia ZL, Galaxy S4, DROID RAZR HD, Note 2. Only the Galaxy S4 has the current version. 4.2.1 was released in November 2012 and 4.2.2 was released in February. We are almost 5 months after the release of 4.2.2, and almost 8 months past the release of 4.2.1 and out of the big carriers and big OEMs we have one phone on the current version of the software. We don’t even have rumors or leaks of 4.2 on anything besides the Galaxy S3 and HTC One.

    Now imagine Samsung or HTC having to explain why the Google Edition of their phone has 4.3 but the official versions they promote and care about don’t even have rumors of the next versions. And it has been more than half a year.

    Now they could just sprint on updating these Google Edition phones and not care about their customized versions. But what I think will happen is that Samsung and HTC will take the same amount of time to develop the updates and test them internally as they do for all their phones. But the Google Editions will then have the updates pushed out to phones while the skinned phones then have to convince carriers they should even bother to update the phone, then be tested by the carriers, and then whenever they feel like it the update will be pushed. That could save months, yes. But we’re still talking at least a month and I think two to three are more likely, at least after 4.3 or whatever the next version of Android is called. I think the phones are too new and the update too close for it to be delayed more than a month. But for the next version? Or the one after that? Don’t count on quick updates.

    The value in these phones is that they are unlocked and come with a functional stock build that you don’t have to rely on third party developers for. Since Google isn’t posting the source and binaries I’m not sure we’ll get Nexus quality custom ROMs, but we should get better ROMs than normal.

    • Jon

      Meh…I think your thinking too hard about this. Samsung and HTC will simply say, “If you want fast updates and the ability to root your phone…buy our product from the Google Play store, or the developer edition.”

      What they are doing on Google Play really has nothing to do with what they are doing elsewhere.

      They won’t be customizing Android to the extent of TouchWiz or Sense, and they don’t have to deal with the big 4 carriers that slows down update rollouts.

      My guess is, they would probably love it if suddenly everyone caught on to the idea of purchasing phones directly from Google Play. My guess is, they would make more money that way. It also gives them some leverage over the carriers by not having all of their eggs in one basket.

      • Brandon Golway

        Exactly. The standard S4 is for those that just want the S4; The S4 dev edition is for those that don’t want to root/unlock their phones with third party tools and would instead buy it unlocked and dev on it (doesn’t make any sense to me) and the GES4 is for those that want an unlocked phone with stock Android and (hopefully) updates directly from Google.

  • Define,”shortly after”

    • Keith

      within a year….

  • Elliot Kotis

    WTF? Thanks Google for your loyalty to Nexus Customers, and don’t reply to this, because if you don’t have Nexus you will disagree, and if you do, you agree with me, so dont try to BS me. I was with Nexus since Nexus 2 (Nexus S), and this just annoys me, atleast give Nexus customers like 2 months before the rest get it!

    • Good_Ole_Pinocchio

      What the hell are you even talking about? ….

    • Good_Ole_Pinocchio

      What the hell are you even talking about? ….

    • Jon

      Chillax dude. You gotta wait and see how this turns out. Everyone may be pleasantly surprised that these phones get updated very quickly.

      Just gotta wait and see. The next version of Android is probably coming in the next few months…gotta wait and see.

  • jasonbereklewis

    Do the updates come from Google or from Samsung/ HTC or from the network/ carrier? The sooner Google works out a way to get carriers’ fingers out of the update pie the better…

    • Steve Benson

      There’s no carrier in the picture for these phones. The updates will come from the OEM’s.

  • Knlegend1

    Besides timely vanilla updates I can’t see any benefit to buying these phones over the originals. Well the HTC One rather. Sense 5 is pretty good and if the opportunity came where I could vanilla my One I think I’ll pass.

    • Steve Benson

      One major benefit that no one is mentioning is the fact that both of these Google Edition phones will have 100% fully working AOSP out of the box. No ROM will ever have that for the regular One and S4. They will be riddled with bugs for their entire development life just like the current S3.

      • Jon

        Yep. People are freaking out about hypothetical delay after Nexus devices…which remains to be seen, while ignoring that even if there was a delay, you would be getting a fully functional AOSP without any of the inherent bugs of all the hacks and finagling to create working custom Roms.

        That’s huge and both of these phones are far better than a Nexus 4.

  • Zack Nebbaki

    God bless the Nexus line……Nexus 5 baby

    • LiterofCola


  • Dorian Brooks

    Exactly how long is….. ‘shortly’?

    • Bionic

      my guess is a month

    • DanSan

      when is the next olympics?….

      thats when

    • DanSan

      when is the next olympics?….

      thats when

  • TairyHessticals

    If I unlock my ONE will there be any way for me to get updates directly from the manufacturer? Thank you in advance

  • joejoe5709

    A week or two. Me thinks you’d almost be better off with a ROM.

    • Good_Ole_Pinocchio

      in a week or 2? Buggy ROM

    • Good_Ole_Pinocchio

      in a week or 2? Buggy ROM

  • I hope they get speedy updates. Can’t be any worse than the VZW Galaxy Nexus.

    • Zack Nebbaki

      Well..Verizon had a lot to do with it

    • michael arazan

      Verizon is about as far to the bottom of the barrel you can get, right with the scum

    • r0lct

      With the following listed as one of the made description points of the phones one would think so:

      The latest in Android.
      The Google Play edition phones automatically receive updates of the latest Android software. Optimized for the latest apps, more storage for your content and a fast, clean user experience all come standard.

  • Bionic

    I hope a dev makes some kind of one click “turn your Verizon S4 into the GED” that’d be awesome since I’m not experienced with ROMS

    • Wouldn’t that be fantastic. Though I’m not sure that is possible.

      • Bionic

        Bummer. Will it be possible to turn your Verizon S4 into GED at all you think??

        • WickedToby741

          My guess is no. The GED devices have no drivers written for the CDMA chip and the LTE bands will be different. You’d need the ROM from a Verizon GED and that simply doesn’t exist. Developers will no doubt be able to enhance their ROMs with pieces and parts from the GED devices (mainly they’d just have to add in code to support the CDMA/LTE chip), but as for a ROM directly from Google/Samsung, fat chance.

          Now for AT&T/T-Mobile S4/One owners there is more hope. Since their hardware should be identical (T-Mobile devices may have slightly different radio programming), it should be as simple as flashing a GED ROM onto the device. Obviously this has yet to be confirmed, but I see no reason why they would create a separate device hardware-wise specifically for GED devices.

          Lastly, all hope is not lost for Verizon, but you’ll have to be patient. Verizon plans to start offering LTE-only phones by the end of the year I believe. A transition to LTE-only phones would mean VoLTE support and no more requiring the CDMA chip for network authentication. Theoretically, once Verizon starts offering LTE-only phones, they pretty much have to let any compatible LTE phone on their network. Since LTE is a standardized SIM-based technology, a manufacturer can offer a Verizon compatible LTE-only phone unlocked without submitting to Verizon’s rigorous (ridiculous?) testing process. In other words, there is a chance of seeing a Verizon compatible GED or Nexus device in the future once they open up their network to LTE-only devices. Nexus 5 anyone?

          • Bionic

            I see, thanks for the info. Good thing im happy with my S4 as is then huh?

          • Paul Hansen

            Especially with all the updates Dan (Invisiblek) rolled out last night in his unofficial build. GPS works on CM10.1 fully now and the pulldown camera in the notification bar is even in there 🙂

          • jnt

            I’m pretty sure the GED S4 is the T-Mobile S4 from a hardware standpoint.

          • Jon

            That would be a game changer. I do hope that LTE brings the ability to purchase one phone that works on any carrier of your choice.

            That is the ultimate consumer win. Europe has had this for a long time…it’s time the US fell in line.

      • Stephen Cox

        Oh, I’m sure it is possible.

        But they won’t want to do it, anyway. That takes resources.

    • Pedro

      Buy Verizon, live with Verizon.

      -Per Sarge

  • Bionic

    Wow. I’m shocked Verizon is ok with this.

    • Flyinion

      They probably don’t care, GE devices are GSM carrier only, i.e. AT&T & T-Mobile. They don’t have CDMA versions that work on Sprint or VZW.

    • Jaxon Wright

      Sarge didn’t tell you these are GSM only?

      • Sarge

        This information was not relevant to my conversations. It didn’t need to be brought up.

        • Will you be replacing Bionic for creating rumors?

          • Sarge

            I will not be spouting rumors. I will be stating facts.

          • Sounds good.

    • Blue Sun

      I’m shocked you even thought these devices would work on the Verizon network.

  • R

    Just release the software and let me turn my AT&T ONE into a GE. Same phone. Gimmick

  • I just can’t pull the trigger on one of these. I want to.. but I can’t. Guess I’ll wait it out for the Nexus 5.

    • Allen Byrd

      Same. My biggest qualm is the lack of software keys.
      I HATE hardware keys.

  • cjohn4043

    Better, but I’ll believe it when I see it…