I'm personally pleased about the fact that android only manages end-user programs with its package manager, and also avoids the autotools suite. Android seems to do quite fine without either. However, it would be convenient to be able to build & deploy new binaries on device using the build system; maybe instead of generating files under out/ there should be a way to make it install directly to a device instead.
When developing some system software, I work out the files that are generated by the "mmm" command and then run a bunch of &&-combined shell commands to push the new files on device and restart the affected daemons so that they see the new copies of the files. It's good enough a solution for me in practice, but some of these steps could still be automated.