Public testing/previewing, Microsoft leads, Google follows?

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I was interested to see that Google is carrying on its public 'Developer Preview' programme now that Android 7.0 has shipped. So, think about it, a system of regular preview builds of an upcoming OS, available to anyone (and not just registered and paid up developers), with a mechanism for users to feed back bugs and issues. And with such a programme continuing even after the nominal shipping date, ongoing into the distant future. Sound familiar? It should - this system has worked pretty well for Microsoft for 18 months now.

From the Android Developers blog:

What’s next for Nougat?

We’re moving Nougat into a new regular maintenance schedule over the coming quarters. In fact, we’ve already started work on the first Nougat maintenance release, that will bring continued refinements and polish, and we’re planning to bring that to you this fall as a developer preview. Stay tuned!

We’ll be closing open bugs logged against Developer Preview builds soon, but please keep the feedback coming! If you still see an issue that you filed in the preview tracker, just file a new issue against Android 7.0 in the AOSP issue tracker.

Thanks for being part of the preview, which we shared earlier this year with an eye towards giving everyone the opportunity to make the next release of Android stronger. Your continued feedback has been extremely beneficial in shaping this final release, not just for users, but for the entire Android ecosystem.

As I said back in March, when Google announced its similar programme:

A very interesting move - it seems as though 'seeing how the sausage is made' is all the rage these days and that feedback from 'insiders'/early adopters can be very useful to an OS maker - who knew?!

Who knew indeed? I have a feeling (see my 'folly' article from Feb 2015) that not all the feedback that's garnered from everyday users is necessarily valuable in terms of assigning resources and fixing bugs - I see too many Feedback Hub items that are too brief, too misleading, too badly written or just plain wrong (e.g. user error). However, even after all the hassle of rolling out builds and administering the programme, there must be some value in this to Microsoft - and now Google too. 

And I'd be silly to complain, since it's this very Insiders programme that has let us cover each OS version/branch in such detail over the years. Long may public access to new code and new fixes continue!

Source / Credit: Android