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Why Android Upgrades Take So Long

Soulskill posted more than 2 years ago | from the keep-getting-distracted-by-delicious-names dept.

Android 226

adeelarshad82 writes "Last month Google released the Android 4.0 'Ice Cream Sandwich' code base to the general public and manufacturers but it may be a while yet before it's actually rolled out to existing phones. In an attempt to explain why it takes so long, Motorola and Sony Ericsson shed some light on the process. Motorola described the long testing process involved in getting the new code out there, whereas Sony focused on explaining the time-consuming certification process."

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226 comments

Verizon's rationale (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38317410)

You'll get fed up waiting and buy a new phone instead.

Great phone, the Fascinate, just can't stand the software they stunk it up with.

Re:Verizon's rationale (1)

colsandurz45 (1314477) | more than 2 years ago | (#38317466)

Which I was I bought my phone outright, it's an N900 though.

Re:Verizon's rationale (4, Informative)

Miamicanes (730264) | more than 2 years ago | (#38318340)

Buying your own phone doesn't matter with Verizon or Sprint. Non-Sprint phones can never be activated under a Sprint account (they can roam, but never be the phone for a real Sprint account). Verizon will let you do it if you twist their arm and escalate it high enough (possibly due to a consent decree inherited from AT&T years ago), but they won't actually *help* you, and you'll never get EVDO to work, only 1xRTT due to radio firmware funkiness unique to Verizon. There's no actual engineering reason why it HAS to be this way (it's purely a matter of software and business process; the hardware is identical), but unfortunately, that's the way it is.

In theory you could buy an unsubsidized phone for AT&T or T-Mobile, but in most cases you'd only be able to use GPRS and EDGE on T-Mobile (most foreign phones can't do 1700/2100 HSPA+), and I'm pretty sure most imported phones can't do HSUPA on AT&T (and often, the only models that can do 850MHz UMTS are the ones intended for Australia, which are so expensive when imported to the US that you could almost buy a Verizon phone and pay for the service for two years for what you'd pay for the imported phone alone).

The unfortunate truth is that America's mobile phone market is as structurally fragmented and messed up as Japan's, and only slightly more likely to untangle itself over the next 25 years into something resembling tortured interoperability.

Re:Verizon's rationale (4, Insightful)

tripleevenfall (1990004) | more than 2 years ago | (#38317768)

Some of the same reasons they don't want you upgrading the OS yourself. They don't want you to get the latest features without paying them a big pile of money or extending your contract.

I'm sure they also have to make sure the latest version is festooned with crapware before they unleash it on the public.

Re:Verizon's rationale (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38317994)

Great phone, the Fascinate, just can't stand the software they stunk it up with.

It's weird that you think the software and the phone are two different things - the software on a smartphone is more the phone than the hardware. I wouldn't put up with a phone with bad software, hoping that it would get better with a software update. If someone sells a phone with bad software they're the last company I'd expect to provide good software for it in the future. They shipped a bad product, buy from a different company.

Re:Verizon's rationale (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38318236)

If everyone followed your advice Sony would be long gone.

Re:Verizon's rationale (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38318384)

The reason we think of the software separately from the hardware is that many Android users replace the software. In my case, when I got my Fascinate, the first thing I did is take it home and root it. Within a week or two, I was running custom software. I've now had the phone for over a year, and it spent very little of that time running the software provided by Verizon.

Hardly surprising (1)

gTsiros (205624) | more than 2 years ago | (#38317428)

when you have a slew of devices, carriers, api versions, applications etcetc and considering android has become a really complicated deal

frankly, i think updates are *not* talking that long.

(16GB to compile ICS? jesus fuck why?)

Re:Hardly surprising (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38317554)

(16GB to compile ICS? jesus fuck why?)

16GB recommended, not required, and it's because they're using memory-intensive optimization flags set.

Re:Hardly surprising (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38317594)

Err, how many other OSes have YOU compiled?

Re:Hardly surprising (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38317624)

Linux, and quite often.

Re:Hardly surprising (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38317698)

A kernel does not an operating system make.

Re:Hardly surprising (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38317848)

Yoda, is that you?

Re:Hardly surprising (1)

Sir_Sri (199544) | more than 2 years ago | (#38317838)

And this is like a windows 8 developer preview going out, sure all the basic stuff is there, but to get it to actually work properly with anything with all the parts requires a fair bit of effort. No support for micro sd cards? (or the wrong type of support or whatever) need to fix that. Uses 35 more MB of ram than the previous version? that might break something important.

And whatever is wrong you have to figure out how to fix, which can take a lot of time, especially if the upgrade process breaks something, but you're not sure what initially. I'm sure there's a lot of back and forth between google devs and 3rd party devs trying to figure out wtf is going on.

If the xda developers had fully working ICS builds for major platforms out already I'd be a bit more critical. They don't. They have ICS builds, but a lot of times wireless doesn't work, phone calls don't work, the memory card doesn't work, the camera doesn't work or various other parts don't work. Diagnosing and writing drivers for all of those parts isn't trivial, and while I'd expect the actual companies to be faster about it than XDA it's still not a trivial undertaking.

Re:Hardly surprising (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38318166)

They don't. They have ICS builds, but a lot of times wireless doesn't work, phone calls don't work, the memory card doesn't work, the camera doesn't work or various other parts don't work. Diagnosing and writing drivers for all of those parts isn't trivial, and while I'd expect the actual companies to be faster about it than XDA it's still not a trivial undertaking.

It is understandable, that the xda community have problems to get the hardware running, without offical documents.
This problem has an easy fix. The manufacturer must demand from the companys that sell them the hardware pieces, that the drivers need to be open source and in the official kernel. So they have no problems with the hardware drivers.
I hope google will demand this for the next motorola devices.

Re:Hardly surprising (4, Insightful)

rtkluttz (244325) | more than 2 years ago | (#38318210)

You actually aren't giving a good comparison. XDA takes a long time because of the all the PURPOSEFUL breakages and blocks that are put in by the manufacturers and the carriers.

The manufacturers and carriers take a long time because they have some many artificial limiters and blocks and DRM that they all have to work together.

Google and XDA timeframes are understandable. Google is doing the REAL development work to make an Operating System. XDA is doing the best they can with what they have to work with with DRM and spyware riddled garbage.

The carriers and manufacturers spend their time screwing everything up on purpose.

Re:Hardly surprising (5, Insightful)

rtkluttz (244325) | more than 2 years ago | (#38318098)

It actually ISN'T that complicated on the carrier side where the real delays come from, they just make it that way. When all the DRM and bloatware and crapware and bandwidth throttlers and tethering blockers and Carrier IQ loggers that are all designed to BREAK your phone or compromise its security go in, its damn difficult to make it run at all.

Look at cyanogenmod and how little time it takes them to get new versions out once they have all the roadblocks in the device figured out.

I see... (5, Funny)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 2 years ago | (#38317434)

So, this long and rigorous testing process is why smartphones are known for their rock-solid stability, seamless integration between hardware and software, and general lack of baffling fail, right?

Re:I see... (-1, Troll)

DigiShaman (671371) | more than 2 years ago | (#38317512)

I know where you going with this, and I would agree. Androids have a higher hardware failure rate than other phones. Unless the software is overlocking the CPU/GPU, you can't fix this with software so much.

Re:I see... (1)

Servaas (1050156) | more than 2 years ago | (#38317556)

Can we actually get some numbers on that? Or are we all going with your gut feeling on this? And everything after Unless doesn't seem to make sense... the software is over clocking the CPU, but you can't fix that with software?! What what?

Re:I see... (1)

varmittang (849469) | more than 2 years ago | (#38317654)

He said poor hardware can't be fixed with software, unless over clocking was being done software which is causing the hardware to break. That could be fixed by software to not overclock.

Re:I see... (4, Insightful)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 2 years ago | (#38317760)

I'm not actually planning on exempting Apple. Their recent "iOS5 battery drain" thing, and various other glitches here and there are better than some of the other vendors; but still rather tepid for somebody who controls the entire OS, chooses the parts that go into the hardware, and has enough market dominance to shake some serious engineering support out of their vendors and contractors....

I'm not sure if most handset vendors just don't care, since they really want you to buy the new hardware, whether they just don't have a sufficient history of in-house software expertise, or whether the vendors of low-power mobile silicon are far nastier about driver blobs and things than their PC counterparts; but smartphones seem surprisingly glitchy for a fixed platform product with substantial vendor control over most of the software. They aren't quite on the same level as, say, ACPI issues in random homebuilds of questionable quality; but they seem pretty mediocre.

Re:I see... (3, Insightful)

syousef (465911) | more than 2 years ago | (#38318120)

I'm not sure if most handset vendors just don't care, since they really want you to buy the new hardware, whether they just don't have a sufficient history of in-house software expertise, or whether the vendors of low-power mobile silicon are far nastier about driver blobs and things than their PC counterparts; but smartphones seem surprisingly glitchy for a fixed platform product with substantial vendor control over most of the software.

They are too busy pushing the marketing for the next big thing to let something petty like actually testing the product get in the way. See they know then can fool customers into buying poor quality crap, then they just pull the model before glitches are sorted for next big thing. So the customer never has a trusty older model to go to. We still buy the shit, so why should they spend more to make it better?

I'm all for progress but life was better when a new model lasted say 3 years instead of 1, and early adopters took the risks and could replace with same towards the end of the cycle if they liked it but it broke or they lost it. Meanwhile buying slightly older tech had it's benefits too - products were ironed out and bugs were actually fixed. Now you replace one immature piece of junk with another, and if you actually find something that works well for you and it comes to an untimely demise, you're stuck gambling on another piece of unreliable untested shit.

Re:I see... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38318404)

Of course. Because complaining about a glitch in the world's first deca-million-distribution of AI made easy enough to access by anyone who needs a cell phone and has $199 to spare is SUCH a legit thing.

Think about what the iPhone would be like if you were in charge. If you, yes YOU, had to actually execuote on making the device work accross the globe for so many millions with all those features.

Think about it, do you believe, honestly to yourself, that you would be able to be the top guy in charge of the BOX the iPhone came it? The printers, the assembly, the just in time inventory for the paper, the cardboard... I bet you couldn't do the BOX.

So sit back and keep being that one fool who points to every situation and says something snarky. Keep pointing, while the rest of the world keeps on trucking. With or without you.

Re:I see... (4, Interesting)

Andy Dodd (701) | more than 2 years ago | (#38317876)

And the fact that it takes people on XDA a matter of days to find and fix many of the issues in manufacturer releases.

Two words that the mobile industry doesn't seem to understand:
Beta Test

Users would not be so angry about delayed upgrades if we were allowed to test betas. Also, if carriers ran beta tests properly, users would be less unhappy with carrier firmwares. (For example, the data-eating AP Mobile widget on AT&T-originated Samsung devices would either be fixed or gone.)

I can understand carrier certification delays for network interfaces to a small degree - but the truth is that nowadays on any properly designed phone, the radio baseband firmware and the applications processor firmware are well isolated from each other. You don't HAVE to go fucking around in the radio baseband every time you touch the applications processor - the usual end result of this is lots of regressions.

Wi-Fi - utter bullshit. The PC industry has no problem deploying driver updates without recertification of all devices targeted by the driver.
Bluetooth - utter bullshit, same deal as with WiFi - the PC industry has no problem with this.

Re:I see... (2)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 2 years ago | (#38318052)

I imagine that the fact that most PC vendors aren't trying to re-flash the wifi firmware every update, just in case you've cracked it and been able to connect to hotspots produced by another vendor, might help them with that feat...

Re:I see... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38318048)

The long testing process is for confirming stability on the carriers cellular network. This means voice, data, sms, location info, etc across all the global markets the phone is targeted for. The carriers do not care about nor do they test applications at all.

tl;dr (5, Insightful)

Rik Sweeney (471717) | more than 2 years ago | (#38317452)

OEMS: I takes time to integrate our own buggy, irremovable software into the kernel.

Re:tl;dr (4, Insightful)

realmolo (574068) | more than 2 years ago | (#38317590)

Exactly. If the manufacturers/carriers just gave us plain-old-Android, all they would have to do is get their drivers installed.

Samsung is the worst. Their software sucks so bad, it makes their phones unusable. And of course, Verizon loads their crap, too.

Google needs to drop the hammer on that bullshit. They should say "Look, quit loading up our OS with your crap, or we'll delist you from our search engine and block your networks from accessing our sites".

Re:tl;dr (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38317674)

Exactly. If the manufacturers/carriers just gave us plain-old-Android, all they would have to do is get their drivers installed.

Samsung is the worst. Their software sucks so bad, it makes their phones unusable. And of course, Verizon loads their crap, too.

Google needs to drop the hammer on that bullshit. They should say "Look, quit loading up our OS with your crap, or we'll delist you from our search engine and block your networks from accessing our sites".

In one of the interviews(with TheVerge.com) Matias Duarte, the chief designer of Android said that he encourages OEMs to come up with a modified OS of their own. He believes this fosters creativity and helps tackle the issues of every phone looking like the same thing..

Re:tl;dr (4, Informative)

thsths (31372) | more than 2 years ago | (#38317744)

> He believes this fosters creativity

So far my experience is that the more a manufacturer meddles with Android, the worse it gets. And this is not because Android is perfect, but (my conclusion) because manufacturer are mostly incompetent when it comes to software.

Re:tl;dr (4, Insightful)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 2 years ago | (#38317786)

My understanding is that giving young children access to finger-paint is also intended to foster creativity. It's just too bad that the result with the OEMs is so similar...

Re:tl;dr (3, Informative)

ebinrock (1877258) | more than 2 years ago | (#38317710)

Here here. Google lacks the balls Apple definitely has to dictate their product to the manufacturers and carriers (an I'm an Android user and fan). I'd love for there to be ONE killer plain vanilla (Ice Cream Sandwich, haha) Android phone, a Nexus, guaranteed never to have any bloatware on it (have you read about what Verizon did to the Galaxy Nexus?), on all carriers simultaneously, and with a much more organized way of marketing and releasing it than the boondoggle that's currently going on with the Galaxy Nexus. Great phone but the way it's being marketed/sold: FAIL.

Re:tl;dr (1)

Swanktastic (109747) | more than 2 years ago | (#38317732)

I'm sure the DoJ would have a field day with that one- Extorting the cell phone companies by leveraging their monopoly in search.

Re:tl;dr (1)

SomePgmr (2021234) | more than 2 years ago | (#38317784)

Wasn't samsung donating handsets and such to the folks behind cyanogenmod? I could be remembering that wrong, but seemed surprisingly... cooperative for a handset maker.

Re:tl;dr (1)

idontusenumbers (1367883) | more than 2 years ago | (#38317882)

I thoroughly enjoy most of the Samsung modifications. Toggles in the notification screen, white-on-black (especially important for OLED), swipe-to-call... Everything is pretty consistent and works pretty well I feel. HTC phones seem (to me, an experienced TouchWiz user) archaic and unusable. Now the garbage that the carriers install (redundant for-pay irremovable EULA-ridden navigation, etc) is an entirely different situation.

Re:tl;dr (1)

Andy Dodd (701) | more than 2 years ago | (#38317902)

Samsung's software is quite good - Touchwiz is the least intrusive of the vendor skins.

Now the carrier bloat they don't have the balls to keep off of their devices, THAT is a different story. The AT&T Galaxy S II (SGH-I777) is the least mangled of the Samsungs, and even it has some major problems not present in its nearly-identical international older brother (GT-I9100).

Re:tl;dr (3, Insightful)

iluvcapra (782887) | more than 2 years ago | (#38318038)

Google needs to drop the hammer on that bullshit.

A senior OSS licensor using its market position and services to retaliate against junior redistributors, essentially in order to protect the integrity of the brand, would be an interesting precedent. Particularly if the senior licensor owned a company that directly competed with its junior licensees. Which in this case, it does.

Re:tl;dr (3, Interesting)

rabbit994 (686936) | more than 2 years ago | (#38318246)

Google needs to drop the hammer on that bullshit. They should say "Look, quit loading up our OS with your crap, or we'll delist you from our search engine and block your networks from accessing our sites".

You obviously don't understand why Android is out there. Android is out there simply to drive traffic to Google Services. Google was scared that iOS could/would cut them out of picture. As long as people are still using Google Services via the phone and getting all Ad revenue that represents then Google is happy. They would be more likely to drop the hammer on Verizon doing Bing thing more then anything else.

Re:tl;dr (3, Interesting)

girlintraining (1395911) | more than 2 years ago | (#38317712)

OEMS: I takes time to integrate our own buggy, irremovable software into the kernel.

Dude, this isn't like upgrading hardware on a computer; There is no no plug and pray. Every device is a blob of different hardware, along with dozens of assorted interfaces baked into the silicon. Motion sensors, GPS, transmitter/receiver pairs, the call stack, etc. It's less like a computer and more like a minature network inside your smartphone, and your phone might look the exact same as the next one on the shelf when you buy it, but the hardware inside might be very different.

It's not just about integrating their "buggy, irremovable software" into the kernel... it's also about integrating a dozen different peripherals together, and then holding it together with bailing wire and duct tape and praying for a miracle.

y'all really need to stop looking at this from your comfortable Everything Is A Computer(tm) mindset. It's not. There might be a microprocessor embedded in there, but that's about where the similarities end.

Re:tl;dr (1)

Baloroth (2370816) | more than 2 years ago | (#38317814)

And yet, custom ROM makers already have (mostly) working Android 4.0 firmware for several devices. What you say is true, to some extent, but in reality it shouldn't take nearly as long for them to get the upgrade working as it does. Also, many devices use the same hardware (partially), so it's not like common drivers don't exist in the majority of cases.

Re:tl;dr (2)

brainzach (2032950) | more than 2 years ago | (#38318072)

Custom ROMs often contain bugs that would be unacceptable for OEMs to release. Power users can go to a forum to get support if they are having problems, but the average user will just blame the problems on the carriers and OEMs.

Re:tl;dr (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38317916)

Sensors in my HTC G2

Rotation Vector Sensor

Proximity Sensor

Orientation Sensor

Magnetic Field Sensor

Linear Acceleration Sensor

Light Sensor

Gravity Sensor

Accelerometer Sensor

Re:tl;dr (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38318054)

"Dude" I don't think that's what he's talking about. I think he's talking about the bullshit bloatware apps that every vendor and/or carrier sticks on their phone: For example my Droid 3 has shit that I never use like the Blockbuster app, City ID app, GoToMeeting, Citrix client app, etc... all shit that I would love to get completely of my phone and off my Apps screen but I can't. Fuck you, Motorola and fuck you Verizon for not letting me do this.

Re:tl;dr (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38317714)

Not to mention:

OEMS: We drag updates out as long as possible because we don't really won't to do them at all. If we take ages and complain about how they put the cost of devices up and delay new products maybe people will stop expecting them. We want people to go out and pay for a new phone to get the latest features not give them away free like communists. We only makes noises about doing updates at all because bloody Apple made a big deal out of them and now people actually expect us to support our devices after they purchase them.

Re:tl;dr (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38317778)

Bullshit excuses. Everyone remember EFI? Hello EFI?

certify the EFI driver, let the OS deal with everything else.

It's bullshit, the entire reason the phone manufacturers take forever is because they want to sell more hardware. There is no excuse why Apple can come out with new iOS updates and android can not. If it was the cell phone companies fault, there would be long delays at Apple too.

Because Sprint Said Fuck You (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38317460)

That's why!

Walled garden... or Zuccotti Park? (0, Troll)

whereissue (2522564) | more than 2 years ago | (#38317468)

Anyone else having a hard time taking something called "Ice Cream Sandwich" seriously?

Re:Walled garden... or Zuccotti Park? (2)

mcspoo (933106) | more than 2 years ago | (#38317514)

Good God, no. I mean, you know what someone will do for a Klondike bar??!?

Re:Walled garden... or Zuccotti Park? (1)

bragr (1612015) | more than 2 years ago | (#38317526)

No more than I have a hard time taking something called "Gingerbread" seriously.

Re:Walled garden... or Zuccotti Park? (1)

Servaas (1050156) | more than 2 years ago | (#38317634)

Nor any zealots defending any million dollar money making company.

If someone above the age of 24 talks to you like the next upcoming product will cure cancer you should be entitled to shoot them. On the spot.

Re:Walled garden... or Zuccotti Park? (2)

geekoid (135745) | more than 2 years ago | (#38317964)

What if the upcoming product is a cancer cure?

Re:Walled garden... or Zuccotti Park? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38318254)

Then hopefully there's another upcoming product that will cure gunshot wounds.

Re:Walled garden... or Zuccotti Park? (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38317604)

No more than an operating system named "Snow Leopard".

Re:Walled garden... or Zuccotti Park? (1)

ebinrock (1877258) | more than 2 years ago | (#38317766)

Well, if you think about it, all marketing/advertising is about evoking good emotions about the product. I for one don't mind conjuring up images of something really scrumptious when buying a really nice piece of electronics. Heck, Apple has always made their buttons look delicious like jelly beans. It's all part of the appeal.

FTA (5, Informative)

agent_vee (1801664) | more than 2 years ago | (#38317500)

"Operators then may want to customize the software, and the OS must be localized for the market and language."

I think that is where the bulk of the time is spent.

Re:FTA (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38317638)

This is a really kind euphemism for "nickel and dime(ing)" their customers. Verizon, for example, is infamous for disabling phone features that might encroach on their overpriced premium services.

Apple's biggest innovation was really wrestling control of devices away from carriers. Some of Google's moves with android, I feel, are a step in the wrong direction. Mobile service needs to be shaken down and commoditized in the US. If you think it is now you are either stupid, a shill, or a congressperson on the take.

Re:FTA (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38318192)

Exactly. AT&T publicly announced that they would be rolling out 2.3 for Infuse 4g units in August. It's now December, and it's a complete no-show.

Is it because— (5, Insightful)

alvinrod (889928) | more than 2 years ago | (#38317552)

Is it because the handset manufacturers don't make any money from the software and are probably more interested in selling you a new phone? After a year or so of support, they've generally shown almost no interest in pushing out additional upgrades as they probably don't even sell that particular model of phone any longer. Unless it's a Nexus phone, or a particularly popular model, support is pretty sketchy. [theunderstatement.com] There are a lot of promises to update phones to ICS, but I won't be surprised when a lot of those plans get canceled or delayed indefinitely.

Wading through the code and carrier requirements certainly tacks on some additional time, but considering that these companies don't have much incentive outside of brand loyalty, which may not even exist to any serious extent, to update their old hardware, I don't think that they try too terribly hard to get it done in a timely fashion.

Re:Is it because— (1)

brainzach (2032950) | more than 2 years ago | (#38317612)

That explains why manufacturers stop supporting older models, but it doesn't explain the delays in the phones that it currently supports.

It would advantageous for phone manufacturers to have timely updates to the phones. Delaying the process just pisses of the consumer who will want to go to another brand with faster and more reliable upgrades.

Re:Is it because— (1)

sohmc (595388) | more than 2 years ago | (#38317730)

Not necessarily so.

The average consumer, who knows nothing about Android other than the fact that it runs on his phone, couldn't care less. They just know some new version came out and it will be rolled out on the phone soon.

People like you and me (e.g. the power users), who want the latest and greatest, will either attempt to compile the kernel ourselves or buy a new phone.

My guess is that phone companies -- or carriers -- have little incentive to actually push the update. Most people will want a newer model anyway so why waste the energy, time, money, and manpower on something few people will actually want.

Re:Is it because— (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38317940)

If they'd like us to buy new phones more often, they would convince the carriers to go with contracts shorter than 2 years, or no contracts.

Re:Is it because— (1)

BitZtream (692029) | more than 2 years ago | (#38317772)

Yes it does. Support stops at the very moment you buy the phone. From that point on, they want to sell you the next phone, the only way you'll buy the next phone is if yours dies or the next one has some feature you don't have. If they give you all the software features, you won't upgrade. Its not even a little bit complex.

Apple does the same thing. I say that as an iPhone 4s owner. The only reason I bought it over a cheaper 4 is Siri. The camera is another good reason, but its not that big of a deal. So while Apple gives my older phones updates, they also intentionally leave out things to give you a reason to buy a new device.

Interestingly enough, Apple, while basically holding back things they could give older phones they STILL provide better updates and less BS than Android devices.

Let me give you guys a hint, when you pick 'free' as your deciding factor on why you buy something, the end result is shitty quality. Quality costs, its mind blowing that so many seemingly intelligent people can't grasp that manufactures jumping on a FREE OS are going to result in a bunch of steaming piles of outdated shit.

Manufactures running Android are in a race to the cheapest possible device, if you expect anything else, you're an ignorant idiot who deserves what you get. If they were concerned about quality, they wouldn't have a problem investing in a non-shitty OS. And you can tell me Android isn't shitty when its own developers stop saying its shitty compared to iOS.

Re:Is it because— (1)

brainzach (2032950) | more than 2 years ago | (#38317896)

If that was true, then manufacturers would not push out any updates.

Maybe for cheaper models, they won't support at all, but buyers of the top of the line flagship phones expect updates for their phones. Most people own the phones for two year before upgrading so manufacturers support updates on phones for at least the first year. If one phone manufacturer fails to deliver timely updates, then competitors will take advantage.

Re:Is it because— (2)

Superken7 (893292) | more than 2 years ago | (#38317758)

You missed the point, this is not about getting a new update nor not, which is another matter entirely (although not any less important).

This is about why it takes so long for updates that *are* happening to reach users. Keep in mind that even though ICS was just released, there are phones that are only now getting Gingerbread, the last major Android version. It is sad and it is a rather difficult problem to solve.

Re:Is it because— (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38317770)

They should investigate whether it's more interesting to spend a lot of time on R&D designing new hardware AND new software or just sell the same hardware 6 or 12 month more.
They can still advertise it if they want to.
(If they have hardware flaws they would like to fix, they can still do that, the software part will be zero or easy to manage if it's small)

Re:Is it because— (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38318000)

Which is really f-ing sad because they usually also want to lock you the f into their partner-or-alliance-mandated bloatcrap so they lock the bootloader to make it a PITA to modify the software.

The lack of post-sale support wouldn't be so bad if that weren't the case.

The simplest way to unscrew the balance corporate and consumer interest would be to legally mandate user rootability and unlocked bootloader.

This allows the user and dev communities for each device to pursue post-sale self-support, and encourages the manufacturers to compete on something other than seeing who can push the most bloat into our devices.

You see, there's a business model there. Every one of those games or apps you can't uninstall is paid for in one way or another. Someone has made a deal resulting in its inclusion. The carriers have learned that they can make money and get useful favors for force-feeding their partners products onto their customers.

The core issue is whether a user has a right to control what software can run on his device. There are people, largely those who have enjoyed the benefits of the aforementioned shovelware business model, who believe that a user should not be able to control the software running on his own device, despite the fact that this battle has already been fought in the 90s with PCs.

We need to settle this shit once and for all.

If I purchase a piece of hardware, I better god damned well be able to do anything I want with it, including running any god damned software I see fit, no matter if that software is a car or a phone or a fucking pacemaker.

If I do something illegal with said hardware, there are laws to handle that.

Why is this so important? Well, because I have this wetware computer in my head which runs firmware and software I've worked very hard on. I don't want to see a future where this issue isn't resolved the right way and my right to control my own mind is compromised.

This should be a campaign issue in 2012, seriously.

Constitutional right to control software on owned electronic devices by 2013 or bust

HA! (1)

dubiago (841235) | more than 2 years ago | (#38317626)

More like a long and arduous process of developing dumbass manufacturer interface overlays and bloatware.

Re:HA! (1)

thsths (31372) | more than 2 years ago | (#38318030)

And an incompetent process, too. Because competent developers would separate their changes, and integrate them only with a few hooks, so that they are easy to port. Unfortunately, competent software developers seems to be completely absent from the Android phone market.

Compared to what? (5, Interesting)

jeffmeden (135043) | more than 2 years ago | (#38317662)

I know I am going to get flamed for being an apologist, but you know that until about a year ago Dell was selling computers preloaded with Windows XP, right? Windows XP, which made its debut in 2001? They were selling (and people were glad to get) a computer with 9 year old software on it. Now we have Android OS from Google and the turnaround can be anywhere from 4 months to a year before it is running on a good portion of the install base, and we complain about it? Why? If the phone doesn't do what you want it to, don't buy it thinking that some software release will come along next week and make it all better (even if the retailers want to insist that)...

Learn from history: buy the phone that does today what you want your phone to do today. For a crowd of computer dorks who know all too well the ups and downs of the software development lifecycle, we here on /. sure do like to play dumb...

Re:Compared to what? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38317798)

The XP of 2001 wasn't the XP of 2010. That alone makes it reasonable to ignore a fucktard such as yourself.

Re:Compared to what? (4, Insightful)

wstrucke (876891) | more than 2 years ago | (#38317818)

Android is free and newer versions tend to not only work better but provide more features. Windows upgrades tend to consume more resources and generally introduce new bugs. It's not really fair to compare the two. That being said, it would be a completely different story if your new PC came with the promise that newer versions of windows would be made available at no charge over your existing internet connection. Why shouldn't you be upset when a new version is released and months go by without your upgrade coming through?

Re:Compared to what? (3, Insightful)

Anubis IV (1279820) | more than 2 years ago | (#38317930)

I wish I had mod points right now to mod you up.

People were asking for Windows XP in large quantities still, which is why Dell continued to sell it with their computers. You don't see people bemoaning the fact that the carriers and manufacturers are making plans to start rolling out upgrades and phones that lack Android 2.x on them, whereas you did see that in the PC market when Vista came out. Android 4 is seen as a legitimate upgrade to the Android line. Vista was seen as a downgrade by many, so they preferred to do without it.

Comparing the two makes little sense.

Re:Compared to what? (3, Insightful)

jeffmeden (135043) | more than 2 years ago | (#38318326)

I wish I had mod points right now to mod you up.

People were asking for Windows XP in large quantities still, which is why Dell continued to sell it with their computers. You don't see people bemoaning the fact that the carriers and manufacturers are making plans to start rolling out upgrades and phones that lack Android 2.x on them, whereas you did see that in the PC market when Vista came out. Android 4 is seen as a legitimate upgrade to the Android line. Vista was seen as a downgrade by many, so they preferred to do without it.

Comparing the two makes little sense.

Whenever I talk to an Android user who hasn't been exposed to internet forums, there is probably a 95% chance they don't even know what version of the OS they are currently using, much less what version is somewhere in the ether waiting to get released for their phone. Articles are constantly appearing that bemoan the Android upgrade cycle, and while there are a lot of things about it that seem impractical (such as giving carriers, who know little about hardware OR software, so much say over what changes will be made) it always has the stink of a pissing match because a little version number buried somewhere deep in some settings menu has so little to do with what the phone actually does.

If these articles were all about how Android 2.3 had glaring bug [X] or glaring missing feature [Y], and Android 3 or 4 or 9.8 was supposed to fix all that, then I would say "game on" and be right there lighting the fire under whoever is holding up the process. As it is, all we are doing is complaining about the weather because honestly if version numbering and release state were kept under wraps (like they are on monolithic platforms) then none of this would ever be discussed at all.

If I were to (warning, a line is about to be crossed) write an article that said Apple's iOS 6 was "finished" and I had evidence to back it up, and I went on to complain that the release wouldn't happen until December 2012 because of some group's lengthy test process, or bureaucracy, or AT&T's insistence, or whatever, should that depress all the Apple users thinking that they were holding a phone in their hands that was running an "outdated" operating system?

Re:Compared to what? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38317948)

Why should you expect that your device will get new versions of an operating system at all? Because "it's free"? But it's not. At BARE minimum, it needs to be tested on the hardware (which is nowhere near as standardized for mobile devices as it is for desktops) and possibly have new drivers written or updated.

Like the apologist above, I'm dumbfounded by the sense of entitlement the technology community has. Non-techies don't even think about what an operating system IS, much less that it might be upgraded. Hell, I know tech-savy people who HATE it when their phone gets OTA updates because icons change and stuff.

On one had, bitch when Facebook changes. On the other hand, bitch when your (effectively obsolete) 1.5-year-old phone doesn't update.

Re:Compared to what? (1)

BitZtream (692029) | more than 2 years ago | (#38317868)

For a crowd of computer dorks who know all too well the ups and downs of the software development lifecycle, we here on /. sure do like to play dumb...

Well, the problem is, slashdot is no longer the site frequented by those who know what they are doing. Judging by the articles over the past year, even more so since Taco left, slashdot is trying to be just another mainstream site with a tech focus.

You pretty much have to write off about 2/3rds of the user base (anyone with a UID over 1 million) as a high schooler without a clue. Sure there are the occasional high UIDs that aren't idiots because they JUST created an account or lost an older one, but for the most part, anyone above UID 1 million is just your average Joe who read something on the Internet and think they are a developer/sysadmin/netadmin/engineer/astrophysicist.

Re:Compared to what? (1)

geekoid (135745) | more than 2 years ago | (#38318020)

"is, slashdot is no longer the site frequented by those who know what they are doing"

never really was.
This is m 3rd uid

Re:Compared to what? (1)

jedidiah (1196) | more than 2 years ago | (#38318178)

Anyone who was in the peanut gallery in 1998 was a little more clued in. The audience wasn't nearly as wide then. You could expect that people had a little bit more of a clue by virtue of the fact that they were even aware of the Internet.

Re:Compared to what? (2)

thsths (31372) | more than 2 years ago | (#38317914)

> Windows XP, which made its debut in 2001?

And guess what makes the difference. Right, Windows XP *is still supported*. Support runs until 2014!

Google on the other hand has the explicit policy of not supplying any previous version of Android with security updates. Whether they timely patch the latest version also remains debatable, because they keep the list of security issues confidential. Google has a long way to go in this matter to even reach the standard of Microsoft.

Re:Compared to what? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38317926)

Have you heard of iOS? It's a mobile phone OS made by Apple that runs on the iPhone and iPad. Updates that take Google 4 months to a year roll out to a good portion of devices takes Apple 4 hours to a week to roll out. Generally when most people compare Android to something they are comparing it to one of the other major phone operating systems, not to Windows XP. For example try iOS, Windows Mobile, Blackberry OS, WebOS next time you have this question.

Re:Compared to what? (2)

Temujin_12 (832986) | more than 2 years ago | (#38318130)

I learned this lesson the hard way with the Motorola Cliq XT. I bought it a while back (2 yrs?) despite it only having 1.6 on it because I was told they were already working on a 2.0 upgrade that would be coming. I waited, and waited, and waited. Eventually they canceled the upgrade and sent an email out recommending a new phone (quite the slap in the face).

Once I saw that no upgrade was coming, I rooted my phone and installed cyanogen mod. I have 2.1 on my phone and it works great (only minor bugs). Plus my phone doesn't have that CarrierIQ spyware on it. I figure that they broke their contract when they canceled the upgrade and left me hanging.

This experience taught me:
1) Cell phone makers simply don't care about software. They have almost zero incentive to put effort into it and often have incentive NOT to invest in software.
2) Never run the stock install from the phone maker. Root it and install a custom mod that is much closer to vanilla Android as possible.

Re:Compared to what? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38318504)

On 11 oct some XP users received update for that OS. Did Android users for their more yonger devices?

Re:Compared to what? (1, Troll)

Karlt1 (231423) | more than 2 years ago | (#38318536)

Now we have Android OS from Google and the turnaround can be anywhere from 4 months to a year before it is running on a good portion of the install base, and we complain about it? Why? If the phone doesn't do what you want it to, don't buy it thinking that some software release will come along next week and make it all better (even if the retailers want to insist that)...

The day the iPhone 4S with iOS 5.0 was released I was able to upgrade my iPhone 4, iPod Touch, and iPad to iOS 5.

The day that Apple released a security update, I was able to click on 'Upgrade' on my phone and get the update that day -- as were all other iOS 5 users worldwide, independent of the carrier.

Even MS has seen to be able to figure out how to upgrade WP7 phones without the carrier or manufacturer's intervention.

Long before Sony... (2)

Synerg1y (2169962) | more than 2 years ago | (#38317750)

The community will port 4.0 to existing phones and newer ones, just like gingerbread. This is because google releases the code to everybody, rather than OEMs. On the atrix, it was due to go up to gingerbread by Motorola, but long long before that gingerblur came out bringing with it most of the features. The official update was of course slightly better, but then again the atrix is locked, what can we expect?

P.S. unlocked phones get much much better support from the community, such as the g2, so it may be worth staying tuned to XDA for your phone and see if 4.0 is ported to it yet.

Ummm... It already hit my phone (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38317756)

Took about 2 days before my phone auto-upgraded.

3. Submit the upgrade to the carriers for certific (1)

danbob999 (2490674) | more than 2 years ago | (#38317776)

Why is this step even listed? I don't want my carrier to certify the software running in my phone. My carrier can't even bill me without mistake. Why would they be competent in testing smart phone OSes?

What certification process? (1)

bogaboga (793279) | more than 2 years ago | (#38317846)

whereas Sony focused on explaining the time-consuming certification process."

What certification process is SONY talking about if in the end, (as evidenced by apps that will not correctly run on their devices), apps deemed compatible with Android still will not install/run on all their product portfolio? Who is SONY trying to fool?

Re:What certification process? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38318162)

examples?

Hardware always seems to be ahead of software (1)

metalgamer84 (1916754) | more than 2 years ago | (#38317858)

Reminds me of the original A64 procs from AMD. "Hey we have the first x64 procs for desktops" Great, no software will be able to take advantage of it for the next 3-5 years.

individuals (1)

mschoolbus (627182) | more than 2 years ago | (#38317888)

So the manufacturers with all the driver source code and dedicated teams take much longer than people without the driver source and in their spare time.

I am already running a port of Ice Cream Sandwich on my year old T-mobile G2.

It probably isn't long enough (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38317944)

I know it is unrealistic, but if they tested every app in the Android market for security issues or other issues that might have opened because of the code changes, it would take much longer.

Say what? (4, Insightful)

Cereal Box (4286) | more than 2 years ago | (#38318154)

In the first Ice Cream Sandwich source code that was released, the Hardware Abstraction Layer (HAL) – the software layer giving applications direct access to the hardware components – was to some extent adapted for a Texas Instruments hardware platform. However, for all 2011 Xperia phones, we used a Qualcomm hardware platform. This means we have to replace the default HAL coming with first source code released for Ice Cream Sandwich, with our own HAL.

The HAL changes have impact on several features on a phone, including the camera, different sensors (such as proximity, light, accelerometer and compass), audio, Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, GPS, as well as multimedia and graphics components. Thus, we do not only have to modify and configure the HAL according to the Qualcomm hardware platform, but also all the other hardware components used in a phone.

Wow, I sure hope they're just mixing up terminology here. The entire point of a HAL is that you just plug in your drivers. If you have to modify the HAL because you're using different hardware than the reference device, you're doing it wrong.

Re:Say what? (1)

hublan (197388) | more than 2 years ago | (#38318390)

The entire point of a HAL is that you just plug in your drivers.

The entire point of the HAL is to abstract hardware, any hardware, away from the OS. There's nothing that says it can't encompass more of the hardware than just the IO bus, CPU and MMU, like WinNT does. On an embedded device there's very little in terms of a standard IO bus that the OS can communicate through cleanly with peripherals, so might as well abstract the whole lot.

Re:Say what? (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38318508)

Perhaps they need a HALAL? ;)

soak tester (4, Informative)

MikeURL (890801) | more than 2 years ago | (#38318398)

I'm in a soak test group for one of the big carriers.

A couple of times it has turned into a very large clusterfuck. Stuff breaks that seems like it should not break for any reason ever. But there you are with 50 people saying that 911 won't work. So these updates break stuff. They break important stuff and every piece of hardware (even within the same hardware line) reacts a little bit differently.

It is one of the glaring weaknesses of a diversified culture (as compared to the locked down monoculture of Apple).

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