Google obviously knows that it's got the Android blogosphere wrapped around its little finger like the femme fatale in a black-and-white gangster movie. It arches an eyebrow, and the masses quiver with anticipation. It bares a hint of ankle, and fights break out.
And it apparently can't resist tugging on the leash from time to time, as this week's unseemly furor over the possibility of Android 4.3's release demonstrates. While few major outlets represented the meager guesswork and augury behind the rumors as anything but what they were, everyone was quick to come out with their "Could we see Android 4.3 this week?" pieces.
Why did everybody think Version 4.3 was coming out this week? The reasons were several. One of the most credible, which isn't saying a great deal, was a pair of tweets from Android open-source project boss Jean-Baptiste Queru on Tuesday, saying that "the future will be better tomorrow" and "4:30 p.m. is always a great time, that's when I get back home from work." See, because 4:30 is like 4.3, and he said that thing about the future. Yeah.
The next hot scoop was Android Community noticing that the screenshots of the Google Keyboard app released today said 4:30. Apparently, Google's official screenshots tend to reflect the current Android version—as in, most recent ones say 4:20.
Here's the 'evidence'
OK, so, if you're really desperate, you can say that this at least confirms that Google likes to use the time of day to play around with version numbers, but again—you're basing the idea there's a new version imminent on this?
Now, it's important to note that the flimsiness of these rumors doesn't mean Android 4.3 isn't coming at least fairly soon—sites have been seeing the user agent showing up in their logs for weeks, and it'll doubtless be rolled out in the not too distant future. But frothing with anticipation when Google does something as miniscule as changing the time on the screenshot in the sample picture on new apps doesn't make a lot of sense to me.
Along with highlighting exactly how little access even enthusiast sites have into the inner circles of Google personnel, this whole goofy incident doesn't cast the most flattering light on the technology press. Here's Google, winkingly changing the screenshot around a little bit and laughing as nerd journalism's assembled finest immediately work themselves into a heavy lather.
Google: It's OK—we're professionals. You don't have to tease us or pull our hair on the playground to get us to notice you. You're arguably the biggest deal in technology right now. You're going to get plenty of ink.
This story, "Android update-watchers claim a sighting of Android 4.3" was originally published by Network World.