Update: Previous version of this story said the original post was from yesterday, when it was actually from June 11th. The story made its way to the /r/Android subreddit yesterday.
Last night a story bubbled up in the Android community that led many to believe that older Nexus devices – specifically the Nexus 4, 7, and 10 – would be receiving official updates to Android M, Google’s upcoming major release of Android. Artem Russakovskii from Android Police, however, has come out on Google+ to say that the evidence presented shows no indication that these devices will be updated.
First a little context. Last month the website Little Green Dude wrote about seeing “android-m-preview” tagged in the AOSP (Android Open Source Project) code repositories for all three devices. Being an open source version of Android, the AOSP is a base, vanilla version of the OS which includes none of Google’s propriety services. Nexus devices are the company’s testing grounds for new software firmware versions, its demonstration devices for new software capabilities, and the base for all phone manufacturers. In regards to seeing an Android M tag in the code branches for these old devices, “What it does show though is that Google has been adding new patches to these devices while developing Android M and more recently than the Android 5.1.1 release,” said writer Charlie Callow.
Russakovskii says essentially, that’s not quite what the tags mean. “There’s an old (non-)story floating at the top of /r/Android today but it means absolutely nothing in terms of chances for older devices,” he said. “Google constantly adds branches and tags to repos that have no business having them so that they can still be synced en masse without issues presumably, or because it’s easier to do that than cherry pick the right repos.”
A pretty straightforward explanation. Code branches are changes to software that, when ready, get merged with the old code to make one “release-ready” version with the changes. Callow himself says that while there are tags referencing Android M in the codebase for these old devices, there are no branches for Android M in these codebases, meaning that Google hasn’t published any Android M code specifically for the 2012 Nexus devices – at all. What Russakovskii is essentially saying is that these tags are merely pragmatic, there so that nobody has to go through a list of each Nexus device codebase and pick and choose which devices to add the tag to.