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The Android Era’s End: Dave Burke Steps Down

TL;DR: Dave Burke, VP of engineering for Android, is stepping down after 14 years at Google. He will explore AI/bio opportunities within Alphabet. Burke’s departure, along with other recent leadership changes, suggests a significant shift in Android’s future. The impact of these changes remains to be seen.

The Android world is on the brink of a significant shift as Dave Burke, the VP of engineering for Android, announced his departure from the role on June 12. In his post on X (formerly Twitter), Burke revealed that he will remain with Google’s parent company, Alphabet, temporarily serving as an “advisor” on the Android team while exploring new opportunities in “AI/bio.”

A Farewell Email

In his departure email posted on LinkedIn, Burke provided more insight into his decision:

“AI has the potential to play a pivotal role in accelerating drug discovery, with wide applicability, including in hard-to-treat pediatric cancers, a topic close to my heart. I’m working with Sundar to explore relevant roles at Alphabet.

“There’s no way to sum up almost 1.5 decades of work in a single email. But I wanted to say thank you for the once-in-a-lifetime, awe-inspiring opportunity. I stayed so long because of our incredible impact – building the future of computing at planet scale.”

A Lasting Legacy

Even if you don’t recognize Dave Burke by name, if you’ve used an Android phone in the last 14 years, you’ve experienced his work firsthand. Burke assumed the VP of engineering role in October 2014, but his tenure at Google dates back to 2007. Throughout his time at the company, Burke played a crucial role in developing:

  • Nexus and Pixel smartphone brands
  • Google Chrome mobile apps
  • Android TV

Burke has been a regular presence at Google I/O over the years, showcasing new Android features, including the most recent event in May 2024.

An Uncertain Future

Burke has not revealed who will succeed him in the role. In another part of his email posted to LinkedIn, he writes, “It’s important for me to leave you in good hands with a well thought out succession plan.” He continues, “We’ll be following up shortly with some additional specifics about this change, so please keep an eye out for that.”

This news comes less than two months after another significant internal shift at Google. In April, the company announced that its Android, Chrome, Pixel, Nest, and other teams would be overseen by Rick Osterloh under a new “Platform and Devices” team. Simultaneously, Hiroshi Lockheimer, another veteran of the Android team, left Android to work on “other projects” within the company.

A Time of Change

With Dave Burke’s departure, it’s becoming increasingly clear that Google is undergoing a radical shake-up, particularly within the Android team. Burke has been synonymous with Android for nearly a decade, making his departure a significant event.

What does this mean for Android’s future? It’s too early to tell. Drastic changes are unlikely in the near future, but prominent leaders leaving like this suggest that something big is on the horizon. For Android enthusiasts eager to see where the OS goes next, these are undoubtedly exciting times.

Stay tuned.


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