Google Chrome is a perfect example of a product that is updated by Google. It gets silent updates regularly, and for most normal people, they don’t even know what version of Chrome they are running. It’s just ‘Chrome’.
Now Chrome is open-source, but not in the same way as Android is. Chrome has an open-source version, called Chromium. Chromium has differences to Chrome, but fundamentally, they’re the same.
It’s the same with Chrome OS - the open-source development version is Chromium OS. Unlike Chrome OS, it is installable on any PC, providing said PC supports the OS. It also doesn’t get updated like Chrome OS, which, like the web browser, are silent when the device boots up. However, Chrome OS is not available to consumers.
In contrast, no OEM makes Chromium OS devices. There aren’t any being sold right now. If Android used the same model - i.e. Androidium - the whole OS would most likely be in a much better situation than it is now.
The open-source OS, Androidium, would be released. These would be released as ‘builds’ on a schedule. Like Chromium OS, no one would release devices based on this. Rather, every OEM would use Android, the commercial version of the product. Like Chrome OS devices, this would require Google’s participation and influence. Updates would come straight from Google as small, rolling updates, ideally silent. The normal, average consumer should never know what version of the OS they are running. It’s just ‘Android’.
The advantage of this is obvious. Google has supreme control over every Android device. They are free to update it, or when the device becomes too old, the updates stop. There would be less Android devices, and every single one would run stock Android and be free of manufacturer skins. Apps produced by Google would be on the Play Store, updating like Gmail or Chrome updates on Android today. Only the core OS would be silently updated.
This would be huge, massive change to Android - but I believe it could be done.