Google could be taking steps to make it easier for Android users to keep the core apps on their phones and tablets up to date. While most third party apps can be updated simply by downloading the latest version from the Google Play Store, some apps such as the default Android clock, email client, or photo gallery are only updated when you install a whole new version of Android.
Since some device makers and wireless carriers are slow to roll out those updates, Google has been making moves over the past few years to separate some of those core apps from the operating system by offering them as standalone apps that can be updated through the Play Store.
Now there’s evidence that with the upcoming launch of Android 4.4 KitKat, Google could bring more of those apps to the Play Store — and make a few other changes.
The folks at Myce found a log file of Android 4.4 running on a Nexus 5 recently, and while it didn’t really reveal many surprises about the next-generation Nexus smartphone, there are some interesting tidbits about the apps running on that phone.
First, this appears to be a device owned by a Google employee (which is hardly shocking, because who else would be using a Nexus 5?) since there’s mention of Google’s internal version of the Play Store.
Second, many of the core apps such as Google Sound Search, Play Store, and QuickOffice have higher version numbers than the versions that are available to the public.
But the biggest difference may be that some of the prefixes for names of the packages for those apps have been changed from com.android to com.google.android. That’s a pretty strong hint that apps including the phone dialer and camera app could soon show up in the Google Play Store, giving folks who aren’t running the latest version of Android the option to have up-to-date versions of a few more key Android components.
Interestingly, the idea of separating core apps from the operating system kind of fits with the whole Android 4.4 KitKat theme: Google’s breaking you off a piece.
Also of note is the fact that the Camera app and Gallery app have been separated. Up until now there was a single app for both. That could allow Google to push updates to one app without working on the other — and make it easier for users to choose their own camera or gallery apps while continuing to use Google’s default for the other.