Some people hate to update their phones. Ironically, so do the cellular carriers, who often wait many months to push out Google's Android updates to their customers. Fortunately for Android users who would prefer their devices to stay up-to-date, the company is suggesting it may be on a path to more frequent releases.
In a post yesterday (August 22) on the Android Developers Blog, Dave Burke, VP of Engineering (Android) at Google stated "We’re moving Nougat into a new regular maintenance schedule over the coming quarters," which implies the company plans to move from its yearly release schedule to something more frequent.
Unfortunately, these updates wouldn't reach all Android device owners, just those that Google itself can push updates down to directly. That means the Nexus 7, Nexus 5X, Nexus 6P, Nexus 7, Nexus Player, Pixel C and General Mobile 4 -- the devices that the company is sending Android 7.0 Nougat to -- and no others. So your Samsung, HTC and other devices will still only receive updates as often as carriers want to send them.
How frequent could this update process be? One would hope that Google would start issuing updates to devices as frequently as patches are needed and new features are available, but it's unknown if the company wants to follow Apple and Microsoft's lead on that. It already practices a similar release schedule for beta updates, but constantly churning out patches to the public is slightly more risky.
The solution that makes the most sense is Google delivering updates that do not cause issues during beta release in quarterly updates. This way enough real-world testing takes place to prevent users devices from getting nuked, and Google still issues updates.
Frequent software updates should be an important goal for the Android team, if only for the fact that users shouldn't wait to turn a year older for security flaws to be fixed. At the same time, the company needs to find a way to make this a priority for its carriers, as only patching Nexus devices doesn't solve overarching problems in the Android community.