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I have been tasked with documenting Google/Android's release plan so that our company has a policy of advanced testing our software on new mobile operating systems.

It seems like Apple/iOS has a fairly routine plan where several rounds of betas are available to developers.

The most detailed report I found was this: but it is a little lacking in official sources, and is less relevant for application developers.

I would like to know when they offer the SDK/emulator with new OS image compared to when phones ship/platform updates roll out.

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Rule #1 - never ask for ETA :) Just monitor the Google's developer blog for new releases of SDK and also, Android-Building newsgroups and watch for Google's Android head-honcho, Jean-Baptiste Queru who is responsible for the rollouts of the Android platform... :) – t0mm13b Jan 3 '13 at 17:24
@t0mm13b thats the CM rule :) Google does need to be on a set cycle if they expect enterprise to start making internal enterprise applications. – Ryan Conrad Jan 3 '13 at 17:33
@RyanConrad Heh! yeah of course the rule belongs to CM! :) I did hear some rumour now that they're starting on "enterprise"y stuff... something about play store.. not sure... its been bandied about.. :) – t0mm13b Jan 3 '13 at 17:39
Even if there were a regular cycle from Google, carriers and/or manufacturers need to add their own changes after the official Android release. And they can vary from several months to over a year, and vary by device. There's no rhyme or reason. – Al E. Jan 3 '13 at 17:54
All that said I don't think this question is a good fit for this site. – Al E. Jan 3 '13 at 17:55

This quotes Andy Rubin in saying that they will move from a twice a year release schedule to a yearly cycle. But I don't know of an actual "official" publication. Also, this "yearly" cycle probably only means "major" releases, but there will still probably be "minor" updates through out the year like they have done in the past.

The Quote:

So we launched it, and from our internal 0.8, we got to 1.0 pretty quickly, and we went through this iteration cycle. You’ve noticed, probably, that that’s slowed down a little bit. Our product cycle is now, basically twice a year, and it will probably end up being once a year when things start settling down, because a platform that’s moving — it’s hard for developers to keep up. I want developers to basically leverage the innovation. I don’t want developers to have to predict the innovation.

  • ANDY RUBIN VP of Engineering for Android at Google
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No, there's no officially published plan. The only people who get advance access to new versions before they're released are certain big-name developers (and tier 1 hardware vendors, of course) under NDA, so they can be ready take advantage of new features. The rest of us get it when the updates get pushed out. (Usually, the new SDK and emulator images appear a little after the new devices ship.)

Unless you want to take advantage of not-yet-announced features, there's no need to change your app for new OS versions, because of the backwards-compatibility features present in Android.

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