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Google and Intel vow to speed up delivery of Android updates to devices

Google and Intel vow to speed up delivery of Android updates to devices

But only tablets and smartphones made with specs from Intel's Reference Design for Android will benefit

It usually takes months for mobile devices to get Android updates, but Intel and Google want to slash the wait time.

Tablets and smartphones made as part of a new Intel mobile-device development program will be able to receive new Android versions and features in two weeks via over-the-air upgrades.

Intel's program, called Reference Design for Android, provides a blueprint for device makers to build tablets, smartphones and phablets with a consistent set of components and system images. The hardware consistency will make updating Android in mobile devices much easier.

The quick delivery of updates will keep mobile devices fresh and "always available with the latest capabilities in Android," said Doug Fisher, senior vice president and general manager for the Software and Services Group at Intel.

Intel and Google worked closely on fast delivery of updates to mobile devices as part of the program, Fisher said during a speech on Wednesday at the Intel Developer Forum in Shenzhen, China.

It's not possible for Google to deliver one version of Android to all mobile devices because of different hardware configurations. Mobile device makers typically modify Android to work with the chipset in their devices. As a result, Android development is heavily fragmented. This is the problem Intel is trying to resolve through its reference design program.

Today there's only one device based on Intel's reference design program: a 7-inch tablet from a Philippine company called Cloudfone. Most mobile devices, including popular Android handsets from Samsung, LG, HTC and others, are based on ARM processor designs.

Small companies like ECS, Malata and ChipHD are developing mobile devices based on the specifications, Fisher said.

No major companies have announced tablets based on the reference design program.

Agam Shah covers PCs, tablets, servers, chips and semiconductors for IDG News Service. Follow Agam on Twitter at @agamsh. Agam's e-mail address is agam_shah@idg.com

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