Google has quietly updated its Android update policy for both Nexus and Google Play edition devices. In short, if you bought either type of smartphone or tablet from a carrier, you may experience delays that result in waiting longer than two weeks to get the latest version. For context, Nexus devices receive the latest Android release directly from Google while Google Play edition devices are managed by the device manufacturers, but Google still works closely with them to provide system updates in a timely manner.
Google has just updated the language of the support page where software update policies for Nexus and GPE devices are summarized, and the new text is not exactly encouraging on first read. The following clause, regarding carriers, was added: “Based on your carrier, it may take longer than two weeks after release to get an update.” We do not know if this is merely a safety net to avoid the ire of customers in the case of things like the Nexus 7 2013 LTE and the whole Verizon debacle, or if this is actually a forward-looking change in policy that could affect new devices like the Nexus 6 and Nexus 9 LTE. The same language was also added to the section for Google Play Edition devices. Let me be clear: anything beyond this point is, by necessity, speculation. We do not know why Google changed the language in this document or how it intends to act based upon that language, if at all. But we can take a stab at it.