There’s been a lot of confusion surrounding the update mechanism for the new HTC One and Samsung Galaxy S4 Google Play Edition devices. Where do the updates for these phones come from, and who is responsible for them?One of the big reasons to get excited about Google Play Edition devices is the speed with which you will receive the next version of Android. It was made clear that these Google Play Edition phones would receive prompt updates, but not where those updates would come from. The assumption by many was that Google would be providing the updates, but there’s a little more to it than that. This may seem like the kind of thing only the most devout Android disciple worries themselves about, but the truth of the matter is when Google announces a new version of Android everyone wants it on their phones as soon as possible.The update process for the Google Play Edition phones is going to be a little different from the Nexus program, but will be significantly faster than carrier supported phones or phones running manufacturer build variants of phones. This is due mostly to how the updates will be created. Unlike the Sense variant of the HTC One, for example, Google will be responsible for most of the build for the Google Play Edition.The Android Open Source Project will maintain a fork specifically for all of the non-proprietary software that goes on this version of the One. HTC will then take this and add in the proprietary bits, such as the ImageSense and BeatsAudio software. Once this has been tested, the next version of Android for the Google Play Edition is done and ready to be pushed to supported phones.Let’s compare this process to the process a forked Android phone supported by a carrier goes through, shall we? In the case of a phone like the LG Optimus G, the manufacturer is not responsible in the launch window for a software update. In fact, before a software update happens for that phone the carrier has to specifically request it, which includes essentially buying research and development time from LG to create the update. When that decision is made, the update is built from scratch, tested, and then sent to the carrier for approval. The carrier tests the software, approves it, and then push the update when they decide it is worth it.Even in environments where the manufacturer takes it upon themselves to make the updates to their phones without a request from the carrier, these updates are built from scratch. The version of Android they use is supplied by the processor manufacturer, not Google’s Android Open Source Project. This process takes months, and often still has to go through separate carrier testing before it is deployed. Samsung has attempted to release updates through their Kies software in the past, effectively bypassing the carrier delay, but users found the process complicated and ultimately stopped these updates from becoming common.HTC and Samsung may be responsible for the final steps of the updates for the Google Play Edition phones, and that may end up taking a little more time than a Nexus phone getting the update, but a significant chunk of the hard work is already done by Google. As a result, updates for these phones will be happening much faster than the original versions of these phones, if not just as fast as Nexus devices. In other words, don’t panic.