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Wireless Carriers Put On Notice About Providing Regular Android Security Updates

Soulskill posted about a year and a half ago | from the suggestion-placed-in-circular-file dept.

Android 171

msm1267 writes "Activist Chris Soghoian, who in the past has targeted zero-day brokers with his work, has turned his attention toward wireless carriers and their reluctance to provide regular device updates to Android mobile devices. The lack of updates leaves millions of Android users sometimes upwards of two revs behind in not only feature updates, but patches for security vulnerabilities. 'With Android, the situation is worse than a joke, it’s a crisis,' said Soghoian, principal technologies and senior policy analyst with the American Civil Liberties Union. 'With Android, you get updates when the carrier and hardware manufacturers want them to go out. Usually, that’s not often because the hardware vendor has thin [profit] margins. Whenever Google updates Android, engineers have to modify it for each phone, chip, radio card that relies on the OS. Hardware vendors must make a unique version for each device and they have scarce resources. Engineers are usually focused on the current version, and devices that are coming out in the next year.'"

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Java (3, Interesting)

goombah99 (560566) | about a year and a half ago | (#42789373)

Does Dalvik have the same security problems Oracle Java does? If so this is a serious problem

Re:Java (1)

stewsters (1406737) | about a year and a half ago | (#42789487)

They are completely different languages. Also as far as i know it would be a total pain to run an applet on an Android device. You would need to run a virtual machine inside android, install another operating system inside that virtual machine, and install oracle's java plugin for the browser inside that.

Re:Java (2)

Miamicanes (730264) | about a year and a half ago | (#42790403)

As of this moment, there is no known "Java" VM that runs under Android. Dalvik begins its life as Java sourcecode, but it's actually "double-compiled" by the time it runs on Android: Java source to Java bytecode, then Java bytecode is compiled to Dalvik bytecode. Lots of Android developers eventually get bitten hard before grasping the true meaning of "Dalvik Isn't Java" (ie, there ARE things that work in Java, but don't work in Dalvik. Runtime dynamic compilation to achieve dependency injection is one example that comes to mind).

Getting Java to run in any kind of compliant manner, with or without Swing, would be a HUGE undertaking that's also prohibited by Oracle and Java's open-source license. Remember, Java is encumbered by patents now owned by Oracle, and a license to use those patents is granted ONLY to users running compliant implementations of Java on x86/AMD64-architecture hardware. You can have a license to use software, without necessarily having a license to make use of patents embodied within it.

If you spent months of your life getting OpenJDK to work under Android (with or without Swing) and published it, you'd be instantly sued by Oracle for patent infringement. Even pre-Oracle, Sun charged shitloads of money to license Java for embedded applications (remember, that's what it was invented for in the first place).

Either way, Java applets under Android aren't happening. Period. Even if you solved the software problems & fought off the lawyers, there's still the tiny problem that Android browsers have no concept of an "Applet".

Re:Java (2)

Qwavel (733416) | about a year and a half ago | (#42789489)

No, it doesn't.

Re:Java (4, Informative)

supersat (639745) | about a year and a half ago | (#42789947)

No. Even if it did, it doesn't matter because Android does NOT rely on Java for isolation or security. Each application runs as a separate Linux user, and the kernel enforces isolation between apps this way.

Because apps are isolated in this way, they can include native code.

Stop screwing with it so much (4, Insightful)

redback (15527) | about a year and a half ago | (#42789377)

Handset manufacturers should stop screwing with it so much, if they used pure android it wouldnt be so much work to get updates out.

Re:Stop screwing with it so much (1)

The Other White Meat (59114) | about a year and a half ago | (#42789471)

I'd be fine if the manufacturers and carriers would just make their bloatware an optional "feature" that users could take or leave. Like AT&T Maps; it's $10/month, the one time I used it was by accident because I confused it for Google Maps.

Re:Stop screwing with it so much (5, Insightful)

ColdWetDog (752185) | about a year and a half ago | (#42789587)

Like AT&T Maps; it's $10/month, the one time I used it was by accident because I confused it for Google Maps.

No, it's not by accident. It's by design. A significant number of people won't be able to parse the difference between AT&T maps and Google Maps. So they'll just pay the dollars until they wise up. If indeed you do wise up, then you have to change their contract to opt out. Then the contract timer starts again.

They get you coming or going.

Brilliant strategy.

Re:Stop screwing with it so much (1)

poofmeisterp (650750) | about a year and a half ago | (#42789617)

But, but, but... AT&T maps has SO much more to offer than Google Maps! It has......... More!

/snark

Re:Stop screwing with it so much (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42789499)

You're asking them to stop differentiating themselves from each other. Not going to happen.

Re:Stop screwing with it so much (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42791045)

God forbid they should compete on price and quality of service.

Re:Stop screwing with it so much (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42789501)

If the manufacturers simply passed their OS / device driver updates back to the core Android Open Source Project, it'd make everyone's lives easier.

If they want to keep their launcher and misc add-on apps private, that's their call.

Re:Stop screwing with it so much (1)

canadiannomad (1745008) | about a year and a half ago | (#42791503)

If the manufacturers simply passed their OS / device driver updates back to the core Android Open Source Project, it'd make everyone's lives easier.

If they want to keep their launcher and misc add-on apps private, that's their call.

Somebody mod this up... It is exactly what they should be doing! Honestly I don't know why low margin hardware manufacturers are keeping themselves in the picture at all (with little to no economic gain for holding the code they won't support).

Re:Stop screwing with it so much (2)

jtownatpunk.net (245670) | about a year and a half ago | (#42790195)

Tell that to my Galaxy Nexus that's still running 4.1.1. So much for the idea that Nexus devices are on the cutting edge. They're abandoned as fast as any other phone.

Re:Stop screwing with it so much (4, Informative)

tlhIngan (30335) | about a year and a half ago | (#42790827)

Tell that to my Galaxy Nexus that's still running 4.1.1. So much for the idea that Nexus devices are on the cutting edge. They're abandoned as fast as any other phone.

Only the Verizon Nexues are "abandoned". If you got the HSPA ones, you should be at 4.2.x already.

If you're not, perhaps it's because you bought it from a carrier and have the default carrier firmware stuck to them with carrier firmware updates. In which case you need to go to Google, download the latest factory images and install them on your GNex. This will get updates as fast as Google pushes them out (the carrier ones actually have an update URL pointing somewhere else, while the Google ones point to Google).

An interesting note - when I did this, battery life shot up dramatically. The carrier GNex firmware isn't all that great.

Re:Stop screwing with it so much (1)

cheater512 (783349) | about a year and a half ago | (#42791435)

Thats why when I bought my Galaxy S3 I immediately put Cyanogenmod on it.
My phone is regularly updated (currently running 4.2.1), stable and doesn't have any crap on it.

Re:Stop screwing with it so much (5, Insightful)

Frojack123 (2606639) | about a year and a half ago | (#42790273)

I agree, to a certain extent.

But I also maintain that this is strictly Google's fault (The Open Hanset Alliance).

They took an operating system, Linux, which always has long the ability to put hardware drivers in dynamically loadable modules and built Android, where they compiled everything into the kernel in one huge binary blob. This is a huge retrograde step in OS design. The kernel should be replaceable without having to replace the driver for every radio, screen, sound chip.

After all, the radio didn't gain any new functionality between Android releases. The same carrier specific radio "rom" the phone was shipped with should suffice. Just call it dynamically rather than compile it into the kernel. Let us get our kernel updates directly from Google, or the handset manufacturer, and any carrier specific updates from the carrier.

This is a packaging error.

Re:Stop screwing with it so much (1)

AmiMoJo (196126) | about a year and a half ago | (#42790319)

Consumers need to stop buying phones from manufacturers who screw with Android and don't provide updates.

Actually that already seems to be happening to some extent. Manufacturers seem to be making much more effort to update. It is carriers who really lag behind, but you would be mad to buy your phone from them anyway.

Rumour has it that Android 4.2 will introduce an advanced skinning system that lets the manufacturer put its skin on but still get OS updates directly from Google. As a bonus the manufacturer (or hacker) will be able to enable an option to switch to vanilla Android too. I really hope that is true.

Re:Stop screwing with it so much (1)

LiENUS (207736) | about a year and a half ago | (#42790779)

Rumour has it that Android 4.2 will introduce an advanced skinning system that lets the manufacturer put its skin on but still get OS updates directly from Google. As a bonus the manufacturer (or hacker) will be able to enable an option to switch to vanilla Android too. I really hope that is true.

Seems unlikely. Android 4.2 was released months ago and I haven't noticed this functionality in it yet.

Re:Stop screwing with it so much (1)

peragrin (659227) | about a year and a half ago | (#42790813)

That's because the manufactures are getting the blame from users using the phrase.

Well my iphone used to update why can't I update this one the same way.

Wait until smart TV vendors realize they also have to provide updates.

If you want locked down software like apple you must limit the number of models of devices.

otherwise you can't keep up

Re:Stop screwing with it so much (1)

NatasRevol (731260) | about a year and a half ago | (#42791063)

That explains why Samsung is the #1 seller of Android phones. /sarcasm

Re:Stop screwing with it so much (1)

Archangel Michael (180766) | about a year and a half ago | (#42790335)

Hell, this isn't even needed, with AOSP and projects like CyanogenMod, just unlock the bootloader of unsupported phones, and let them have the needed drivers to make the shit work right. But you can't complain about old devies not getting updates when you don't do updates nor let anyone else do them either. This is not a catch 22. This is "we want our cake and eat it too".

Re:Stop screwing with it so much (1)

peragrin (659227) | about a year and a half ago | (#42791247)

Not it isn't. not even close.

this is, Hey the iphone has those kinds of updates why can't my HTC/Samsung, etc.

Seriously the only reason why is the carriers being stupid, and manufacturers not understanding the big software release picture.

Re:Stop screwing with it so much (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42790957)

They're not the problem, the problem is then it has to be basically 'forked' into the providers version and they are the ones that are usually slow with their end of the updates. (some more than others)

Google really needs to change the agreements for the distribution rights for their distro. and take a little more control. not to the point of apple but enough that sprint can't shove nascar and nfl apps at me that are constantly trying to use 'my' data connection and consuming ram when i have never used them and can't remove them.

Re:Stop screwing with it so much (1)

gr8_phk (621180) | about a year and a half ago | (#42791139)

Handset manufacturers should stop screwing with it so much, if they used pure android it wouldnt be so much work to get updates out.

Google should stop screwing with it so much and then they wouldn't need updates! And you should stop blaming the customers (handset makers)

Seriously, you folks in "the tech industry" have no idea what product quality and reliability are. Try writing software for a car. Yes, it's much smaller in scope, but it has to be complete. We ship modules that are never updated (ROM parts anyone?) and in some cases are turned on and never off until you disconnect the battery (i.e. sleep rather than full reset). We have people who swear you must refresh hardware configuration registers periodically because cosmic rays or some shit will occasionally disable a feature indefinitely. I have not personally encountered such an issue but I know people who have. But that shit HAS to work, and it has to work for decades without updates.

My phone runs Android 2.1 because it won't update if I tell it to, and it still makes calls. I have better things to do than tech support for a phone. It's a PHONE it shouldn't need updates.

Re:Stop screwing with it so much (2)

canadiannomad (1745008) | about a year and a half ago | (#42791595)

The moment you connect your car up to the internet, it too will need software updates.
In a car no-one is constantly trying to run you off the road or blow you up.
Not true online, you are almost always being probed to find out if you are susceptible to the latest car disabling technology.
Online it is an arms race, not a status quo.

Re:Stop screwing with it so much (2)

JonBoy47 (2813759) | about a year and a half ago | (#42791459)

These Android-makers customize/skin the Android experience for the simple reason that it's just about the only thing preventing their product from becoming completely commoditized just like Windows PC's have been in the past few years. They also lack the clout to tell the carriers to pound sand. Thus we get Android handsets with carrier-dictated bloatware because the carriers get incremental revenue off that stuff. Be it someone using AT&T Maps and paying $10/month because they can't tell the difference from the Google Maps icon, or because someone is paying $0.50 a unit to have their app pre-loaded on the phone. All this bloatware, plus the additional QA the carrier does on each new build, is why Android releases are so delayed. Note that iPhones are devoid of these specific issues (though they have their own different issues). Apple wisely told carriers to shove it where the sun don't shine, and Google was wise to follow The Late Steve's lead with their Nexus devices.

Still using my Droid 1 going on three years (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42789399)

And haven't had an update since the first year.

They (Verizon) should at least push updates while it's still under contract.

Re:Still using my Droid 1 going on three years (0)

h4rr4r (612664) | about a year and a half ago | (#42789497)

You are running stock on that device?
WHY?

Re:Still using my Droid 1 going on three years (2)

poofmeisterp (650750) | about a year and a half ago | (#42789601)

You are running stock on that device?
WHY?

Because they're trying to run the device from the perspective of the average end user. And that perspective has been clad in suckiness since the beginning.

Why isn't Android more modular (1)

The Other White Meat (59114) | about a year and a half ago | (#42789409)

Every new revision of Android is this large, monolithic package that seems to take years to get right. If Android were more modular, you could have teams working in parallel on various modules, and releasing them as needed. This is what regular Linux does, so I don't see why Android doesn't do more of it. Other than the Google Apps package, everything else seems to be lumped together. (and yes, I know it's more modular behind the scenes, but if it isn't that way for the user, it's a moot point.)

Re:Why isn't Android more modular (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42789679)

You missed the entire point. It is modular, the problem is the manufacturers keep driver code to themselves and out of the mainline kernel, they bolt in all sorts of UI shit no one actually wants and aren't interested in patching problems. They want you to buy the next new shiny thing.

Re:Why isn't Android more modular (2)

AwesomeMcgee (2437070) | about a year and a half ago | (#42789893)

Go re-read why worse is better http://www.dreamsongs.com/RiseOfWorseIsBetter.html [dreamsongs.com] and realize any form of micro-architecture has long since been destroyed by the formidable drive of the monolithic design and it's ability to be simultaneously horrible and intractably irremovable from the minds of the vast majority of engineers, along with being faster to get out the door and therefore meeting all requirements of the business people who actually shove all this garbage down our throats.

Re:Why isn't Android more modular (3, Funny)

AuMatar (183847) | about a year and a half ago | (#42789995)

Wouldn't matter. The problem is more political than technical. Carriers are the ones who push updates, and they don't care especially in the US. Check EU versions of US phones and you'll see many more updates that never make it out here.

Some of that is for a good reason. Carriers put phones through very rigorous acceptance testing that takes weeks to finish. It tests the phone as a whole, not individual modules. Trying to push out partial updates would screw with their process and cost tens of millions. It would also lead to people having versions of modules that were never tested together, an increased possibility of bricking your phone. When your device is seen as a consumer utility that just really isn't an option.

Re:Why isn't Android more modular (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42790059)

Erh... monolithic?

Do you call ZIP package as monolithic because it package multiple file as one?

Android is very modular, that someone ship it with single flashable "ROM" file doesn't make Android monolithic.

Rooting (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42789415)

How about instead of spending money on modifying those new versions of Android to work on old models, offer ways to unlock the bootloaders so that people can get the security updates they desperatly need through third party ROMs such as Cyanogenmod?

First post! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42789429)

I got the first post! Suck on that, Baquack Obamailure!

Re:First post! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42789979)

Sadly, Baquack won't be sucking on anything today. Because you're the one sucking.

American Civil Liberties Union (3, Interesting)

Qwavel (733416) | about a year and a half ago | (#42789461)

"said Soghoian, principal technologies and senior policy analyst with the American Civil Liberties Union."

Finally, an article about the dangers of Android that quotes someone I'm prepared to listen to. I'm not entirely sure why the ACLU would be involved in this stuff, but I do have some respect for them and believe them to be objective in this matter.

I'm tired of the barrage of articles about the security problems with Android, and the need for anti-virus to resolve them - quoting people paid by the anti-virus companies.

Not a problem for iOS. (-1, Troll)

BasilBrush (643681) | about a year and a half ago | (#42789467)

Another way in which iOS is superior. Every user gets offered every OS update, within a day of it's release.

It's a mystery to me why people put up with Android's deficiencies.

Re:Not a problem for iOS. (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | about a year and a half ago | (#42789533)

Really all the other advantages are a mystery to you?

Not everyone wants to live in a walled garden and pay a tithe to be allowed to program for their own device. Not to mention the lack of custom ROMS, and a whole host of other things.

Re:Not a problem for iOS. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42789585)

Not everyone wants to live in a walled garden and pay a tithe to be allowed to program for their own device.

Then those people deserve the malware and security problems and I hope every one of them gets their identities stolen and bank accounts emptied.

Re:Not a problem for iOS. (3, Informative)

bhagwad (1426855) | about a year and a half ago | (#42790547)

Not everyone with a Windows PC has had their identities stolen and bank accounts empties. Oh any by the way, "security" is just a convenient excuse for censoring apps. Look at the big stories of Apple censorship - they have nothing to do with security and everything to do with Apple enforcing their own morals.

Security my ass.

Re:Not a problem for iOS. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42791093)

Not everyone with a Windows PC has had their identities stolen and bank accounts empties.

And not every person that has played russian roulette has been killed either.

But they still deserve to be.

Re:Not a problem for iOS. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42789661)

Babby is mad because he doesn't want to pay a tithe to program something that will get him a little extra money?

Just do what the other Obamailures do and torrent the software that you need. Then hack your device and void your warranty. Apple is more corrupt than Micro$oft, so feel free to steal from them. Power to the Poors, I say.

When the poors are capable of pulling them up by their bootstraps, that is when I will respect them. Until then, they might as well just be a bunch of worthless gangbanging thieves. I wish they would change the laws so it was no longer a crime to kill poors for fun. It doesn't matter what race they are; poor people ruin neighborhoods.

Re:Not a problem for iOS. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42789877)

im sure he more mad he didn't spend the little extra time convincing your mother to have an abortion.

Re:Not a problem for iOS. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42789811)

You can program for your own device without paying Apple for it. You're just spreading FUD.

Re:Not a problem for iOS. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42790355)

Really? I can write an iPhone app without buying a mac and a copy of xcode? I don't have to buy anything special to write for Android or BlackBerry or even Windows. It's a fact, not FUD.

Re:Not a problem for iOS. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42790807)

I can write an iPhone app without buying a mac and a copy of xcode?

xcode is free and no, you don't need to buy a mac, especially if you already have one or you could install OSX on your PC or even in a virtual machine.

I don't have to buy anything special to write for Android or BlackBerry or even Windows.

Macs aren't special, they aren't any different to PCs, in fact you can even run OSX on PCs and in VMs and XCode is free.

Re:Not a problem for iOS. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42791351)

no, you don't need to buy a mac, especially if you already have one.
no, you don't need to buy a mac, especially if you already have one.

no, you don't need to buy a mac, especially if you already have one.
 

That was so funny I had to repeat it three times.

Mactards, they're so cute when they're young...

Re:Not a problem for iOS. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42791329)

You have to buy a computer regardless.
Xcode is free.
You're an ignorant idiot.

Re:Not a problem for iOS. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42790751)

Not everyone wants to live in a walled garden and pay a tithe to be allowed to program for their own device. Not to mention the lack of custom ROMS, and a whole host of other things.

Most people don't do those things with their Android devices anyway.

Re:Not a problem for iOS. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42791175)

Wow, that's ignorant.

I can create a free developer account, download Xcode and install any app I develop on my phone. No 'tithe' anywhere.

Custom iPhone roms:
http://whited00r.com/

But then, you probably knew that and just felt like trolling at the end of the day.

Re:Not a problem for iOS. (1)

sehlat (180760) | about a year and a half ago | (#42789579)

Superior right up until the point when an update breaks an application you consider critical to using the gadget and the owner of the program (in this case, Stanza) refuses to allow it to be updated because it's a hundred times better than his precious Kindle.

I'm now two revs behind iOS and don't give a damn.

You have to keep an eye on both the manufacturer *and* the companies that provide applications to make sure they're not letting nose-in-the-air corporate rah-rah get in the way of taking care of their customers.

Re:Not a problem for iOS. (1)

MBCook (132727) | about a year and a half ago | (#42789673)

You're not forced to take the update, but at least it's available to you if you want it.

Depending on the specific manufacturer/phone, an Android device may get a few updates, possibly very late, or none at all.

Re:Not a problem for iOS. (2, Insightful)

PortHaven (242123) | about a year and a half ago | (#42789669)

Really?

Because my iPhone 3G didn't get the last few updates. And courtesy of Apple, it no longer streams Netflix. Because crApple is so incompetent, they can't even manage app versions.

Case in point. I have iPhon4 and 3G. iPhone 4s are running iOS5 & 6. Which the new Netflix app requires. However, the 3G model is not able to update to iOS5. But iTunes only allows for one instance of an app. So you'll find that you're old phones are now updated to versions of applications they cannot run.

Get off your high crApple horse. The platform has major suckage. Want to bet $250?

Move a photo you take with your phone into another folder. (No, don't just create a reference. Actually MOVE IT!!!)

Re:Not a problem for iOS. (1)

cant_get_a_good_nick (172131) | about a year and a half ago | (#42790469)

crApple? Jeez... I thought calling it Micro$oft was bad. Yes, the troll was a fanboi. But you bit and went the wrong way.

Apple is much better at having a consistent platform than Android is. You have phones coming out 4 months ago stranded with no updates. Your iPhone 3G goes back (possibly) 4 years, and a minimum 2 years. It's a much different situation.

I have an iPod touch, gen 2, which has been stranded. I wish I could get an update on it. but the CPU on it is too old, so they don't support CPU hog IOS5 on it.

Re:Not a problem for iOS. (1)

maccodemonkey (1438585) | about a year and a half ago | (#42790473)

Really?

Because my iPhone 3G didn't get the last few updates.

You missed the part that because that device is over two years old, you can get a newer device for free when you renew your contract.

Of course, it sounds like you're using it as a secondary device. In which case I'm going to counter with a rant about how my spare G4 Cube can't run the latest version of Mac OS, can't run Netflix, and blah blah blah...

Re:Not a problem for iOS. (1)

Chirs (87576) | about a year and a half ago | (#42790731)

You missed the part that because that device is over two years old, you can get a newer device for free when you renew your contract.

You assume the person is *on* a contract.

Re:Not a problem for iOS. (1)

countach (534280) | about a year and a half ago | (#42790531)

Yeah it's not a perfect platform. But I prefer it because at least I know what I'm getting. I know the level of support Apple will give me, which is pretty good, even if they do sometimes drop support on old models. But what can I expect if I buy Android? It's really hard to research, figure out and predict. This is why Apple is killing the competition.

Re:Not a problem for iOS. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42790553)

You are complaining that a five year old computing device isn't getting the latest OS updates? My five year old laptop won't run Win 8. There comes a time when technology advances require leaving older technology behind. To include your device would mean having to code for non-retina display resolutions, and for much slower and less capable processor capabilities.

You do have a point about iTunes should be able to recognize that you have a variety of devices and allow for older versions of apps to exist in your library as well as the latest and greatest.

Re:Not a problem for iOS. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42791361)

The parent was patently wrong, however I'd like to point out the iPhone 3G is nearly five years old and only stopped receiving updates a couple years ago while most android phones stop receiving updates within a year or two.

Stalling? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42789493)

Is this the reason why Google are having such a hard time selling Nexus devices? Are the hardware manufacturer + carriers reluctant to allow teh NExus 4 on the market at "Google prices"?

Re:Stalling? (0)

poofmeisterp (650750) | about a year and a half ago | (#42789559)

Is this the reason why Google are having such a hard time selling Nexus devices? Are the hardware manufacturer + carriers reluctant to allow teh NExus 4 on the market at "Google prices"?

Well, that and their lack of Flash support.

Re:Stalling? (2)

h4rr4r (612664) | about a year and a half ago | (#42789597)

What lack of flash support?

Adobe killed flash for all devices post 4.0.

Re:Stalling? (1)

poofmeisterp (650750) | about a year and a half ago | (#42790859)

I thought that's what we were talking about here.

Re:Stalling? (1)

poofmeisterp (650750) | about a year and a half ago | (#42790891)

Misread galaxy s4 as s7. My mistake. Guess misreading makes me a "troll". Yay!

Re:Stalling? (1)

compro01 (777531) | about a year and a half ago | (#42789977)

Hard time selling?

The only hard times they appear to be having is getting LG to build enough of the things.

Re:Stalling? (1)

Miamicanes (730264) | about a year and a half ago | (#42790577)

The Nexus One rocked. It was groundbreaking, best of breed, and was unquestionably the best Android device money could buy at any price. Every Nexus since then has been... underwhelming, to put it politely.

The Nexus S was a joke, and literally WAS "last year's hardware". By the time Sprint got it, it was already obsolete.

The gNex was a step in the right direction, except they stupidly gave Verizon exclusivity for 6 months & shipped it with a locked bootloader. By the time the gNex hit other carriers, the Galaxy S3 was imminent (and a solid step up hardware-wise).

The Nexus 4 has a sealed battery, no microSD, steals screen real estate for the buttons, and has an insane glass back that cracks if you drop it more than a quarter inch.

Are the Nexi good values? Yeah. Are they competition-crushing best of breed devices that decisively take Android to the next level, and instantly render all Android phones that came before them functionally obsolete? Unfortunately, no. Google seems to have decided to settle for "cheap & throwaway" instead of "bully pulpit awesome".

The carriers don't care. (2)

getto man d (619850) | about a year and a half ago | (#42789513)

If the carriers were what most of us want, i.e. dumb pipes, then we could possibly own our phones and upgrade them in a much easier fashion (so long as the hardware manufacturer is still providing updates).

Verizon's treatment of the Samsung Galaxy Nexus has been an eye opening experience and I'm still trying to figure out an alternative solution.

Re:The carriers don't care. (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | about a year and a half ago | (#42789675)

The alternative I will be seeking is leaving verizon and buying a GSM nexus as soon as my contract is over.

Verizon is losing a family plan that is over 10 years old because of this.

Re:The carriers don't care. (2)

Andy Dodd (701) | about a year and a half ago | (#42789785)

Solution: Buy from an MVNO that is a dumb pipe. Straight Talk's BYOD SIM plans are proving quite popular.

Nexus 4 from the Play Store + Straight Talk = device you control hooked up to a dumb pipe.

Re:The carriers don't care. (1)

SiChemist (575005) | about a year and a half ago | (#42790467)

Do you know anyone who uses Straight Talk? I'm out of contract in January 2014 and I'm contemplating buying the newest Nexus phone at that time and switching to Straight Talk. I worry about running over the "secret" 2GB data cap and getting cut off. There is good AT&T coverage where I live and work, so I was planning on buying an AT&T sim from ST.

Separation of Responsibilities (1)

BradleyUffner (103496) | about a year and a half ago | (#42789515)

Android really needs a system where security updates can be delivered outside of entire OS updates. Carries could enjoy their OS lock-in while users still manage to get security.

Re:Separation of Responsibilities (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | about a year and a half ago | (#42789569)

Considering you don't have the device drivers how do you update the phone without them?

Great you can have security updates and a phone that no longer has a functioning radio or camera.

Getting the drivers into mainline would be a far better solution.

Re:Separation of Responsibilities (1)

gnoshi (314933) | about a year and a half ago | (#42790229)

I think the parent was meaning that by providing security updates as subcomponents of the OS rather than full OS updates, then the drivers wouldn't need to change (unless the secure issue was in the driver itself).

However, your point is basically right. If you look over at XDA-developers, a common pattern is that one manufacturer stops providing updates for a device (e.g. Acer A500, for which the last official update was 4.0.x) so Android mod developers have to dig around for other devices using the same chipsets but that received later updates in order to get compatible drivers (for the A500, I believe that is one of the Asus Transformer models).
Manufacturers have an impetus not to provide major OS updates, because that reduces the differentiators on which they can sell the new model. This does need to be balanced against the reputation cost of having shabby update support (e.g. Motorola received a lot of hate about the Motorola Defy, which was released with a two-version-ago OS, was updated to a one-version-ago OS, and has a locked bootloader so replacing the OS is a pain. This case was particularly bad, because the Motorola Defy+ was released shortly thereafter with the current OS version, and the only difference was the camera and clock speed). Samsung seems to balance this pretty well, HTC so-so, Motorola very poorly.

If drivers didn't need to be modified between Android versions that would be a big advantage for Android mod developers, and probably for the handset manufacturers as well. Those manufacturers are not even releasing minor updates within a major OS version, though (which don't involve drivers changes, to my knowledge) so the basic issue isn't drivers - it is handset manufacturer retiscence (be it for cost or laziness reasons).

Re:Separation of Responsibilities (1)

Miamicanes (730264) | about a year and a half ago | (#42790835)

> Getting the drivers into mainline would be a far better solution.

Or at least stabilize Android's kernel ABI so that every new release doesn't break most/all of the loadable kernel modules that shipped with the phone. 99% of the time, the Linux kernel ABI breaks between versions for no particular reason besides "nobody even bothers to try and NOT break it".

Among some, .ko-breakage is considered a feature and punishment for not open-sourcing drivers. Unfortunately, Qualcomm, nVidia, and Broadcom own the chipset market (for American phones, at least), and no amount of market forces or consumer preferences are likely to make the slightest difference to them, because it's pretty much impossible to make a fully-working American LTE phone without their chips. The overwhelming majority of real changes to successive Android kernels are Google-made, anyway. If Google would just fork Android's kernel once and for all, ignore the mainline going forward (to avoid senseless ABI breakage with every new kernel, possibly attempting to incorporate Linus' latest improvements as faithfully as possible without breaking the ABI), we'd be better off.

Keep it Android! (1)

BobCollins (986220) | about a year and a half ago | (#42789531)

A novel idea! Maybe the carriers could stop f**king with the OS and make it easier to upgrade?

Re:Keep it Android! (2)

idontgno (624372) | about a year and a half ago | (#42789599)

Nonsense. Why would carriers interfere with the current Android upgrade model: Buy a new phone with the current release of Android. And extend your contract at the same time.

The ACLU is complaining that the carriers are allowing the shackles to get all rusty and dangerous and uncomfortable, but they're not arguing for an Emancipation Proclamation: they just want the handcuffs to be adjusted and replaced regularly.

Re:Keep it Android! (4, Informative)

AmiMoJo (196126) | about a year and a half ago | (#42790435)

The real problem is that customers in the US get completely and utterly screwed by the carriers. Really, you guys take it hard in the arse and pay though the nose for the privilege.

In the UK you can get a phone on contract from a third party. You get the same contract deal as you would going directly to the carrier, although often for £5/month less. The phone is unlocked and unbranded, you get updates directly from the manufacturer and no pre-installed carrier crapware. There are some good deals on offer too, for example 3 do a really unlimited data plan. A friend of mine runs Android uTorrent on it.

Regulation has delivered this for us. It is really easy to switch provider and take your number with you. Contract terms are heavily regulated to make sure they are fair and reasonable. It isn't perfect by a long way but it saves us from the rip-off hell that the US mobile market suffers from.

Re:Keep it Android! (1)

sehlat (180760) | about a year and a half ago | (#42789645)

You forget one thing: the carriers want to customize their brands so they can brand their customers.

It doesn't matter whether it's the flying-A, the rocking-S, or the lazy-V, they still want their cattle branded.

Re:Keep it Android! (3, Insightful)

MBCook (132727) | about a year and a half ago | (#42789701)

If they don't tinker with the OS, how are they supposed to add value?

Why, with what you're suggesting, they would just be commodity dumb pipes. When has a phone company ever admitted that?

Perfect. (1)

poofmeisterp (650750) | about a year and a half ago | (#42789551)

Engineers are usually focused on the current version, and devices that are coming out in the next year.

So what you're saying is that it's absolutely PERFECT for the wireless industry, eh? Keep people wanting the future product that you have to buy before the end of your contract!

I wish I were joking.

Cyanogenmod (3, Interesting)

vlm (69642) | about a year and a half ago | (#42789717)

Whenever Google updates Android, engineers have to modify it for each phone, chip, radio card that relies on the OS. Hardware vendors must make a unique version for each device and they have scarce resources

How come the cyanogenmod people do a better job than everyone else in the industry?

I just upgraded a LS670 last weekend to cyanogenmod. CM9 if I recall. Its faster, looks better, more features, MUCH newer which would imply fewer holes, overall quite a massive improvement over stock. It no longer has cell service, I'm using this phone as a wifi microtablet, quite happily.

Re:Cyanogenmod (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42789929)

I'm using this phone as a wifi microtablet, quite happily.

Yeah, og droid plus CM7 is my kitchen pandora source. $30 from ebay incl 16gb card! Even better deal than my brown Zune (which I still use, for the FM radio mostly).

Re:Cyanogenmod (1)

MonsterTrimble (1205334) | about a year and a half ago | (#42789931)

The big issue I have with Cyanogenmod is the fact that it can be very difficult to do right and you risk bricking the phone by doing it.

My wife has a LG Optimus 3D (LG Thrill 4G for those of you stateside) and the last update she received upgraded her from 2.2 to 2.3.5, which was a brutal abortion of a release. Bugs everywhere and eats battery life to beat hell. After researching it throughly I decided against doing anything to it because I had to root it, then make sure I had a kosher set of files and upgrades on it first, then install CM. Frankly, she lives on the thing and if I screw it up I'm dead.

Don't get me wrong, I think the people behind CM are brilliant and I have nothing but kudos for them, however the lack of a good installer stops me from taking the plunge.

Re:Cyanogenmod (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | about a year and a half ago | (#42790025)

Nearly no phone can actually be bricked. Absolute worst case you boot into recovery and flash another zip.

For what device is installing Cyanogenmod difficult?
From your description not that one.

There can't be a "good" installer, that would require the device company to play along. There is nothing they could do to make it easier for you.

Re:Cyanogenmod (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42790105)

The big issue I have with Cyanogenmod is the fact that it can be very difficult to do right and you risk bricking the phone by doing it. Don't you mean: The big issue I have with the carriers locking down the phones is the fact that they force upgrading to any other OS very difficult to do right and you risk bricking the phone by doing it.

Re:Cyanogenmod (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42791011)

No, I'm sorry, but it's next to impossible to brick a phone.

I've tried. Like seriously screwed some stuff up. Flashed the ROM for one model to an entirely different model. I got the thing so it wouldn't even turn on.

But, hooked it up to a PC and was able to recover the thing entirely.

Doesn't matter on rooted phones (1)

bobthesungeek76036 (2697689) | about a year and a half ago | (#42789739)

I have ClockworkMod Recovery and it's a royal pain to update the OS. AT&T pushed an update to my Skyrocket a few months ago and I haven't updated yet because of it. And the whole re-rooting afterwards...

Re:Doesn't matter on rooted phones (2)

h4rr4r (612664) | about a year and a half ago | (#42789835)

Why not just flash a new ROM instead of using the OTA update?

If you wanted to use OTAs, why flash Clockwork at all?

(PLUS ONE INFORMATIVE) (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42789803)

for *BSd becTause

Insecure is insecure? (1)

unp (982975) | about a year and a half ago | (#42789863)

I'm shocked that an easily rootable platform such as Android has security holes...

Unexpected? (1)

DogDude (805747) | about a year and a half ago | (#42789927)

How is this unexpected? Unlike Apple phones and Microsoft phones, Android are a mishmash of some open source stuff, and some carrier specific stuff. This is part of the reason that I, at least, went with a MS Phone, instead of an Android phone. It reminds me of Linux: the core of it may all be the same, but by the time you slap all kinds of custom stuff on top of it, every single version is essentially different from every other version, and compatibility goes down the drain. So of course the carriers are going to be very delayed in updating everything: they have to juggle multiple versions of "Android" phones, and each update has to be tested and customized for each version. There IS a downside to the wide amount of customization that Android allows. Apple and MS phones, on the other hand, are true walled gardens, so they're much easier to update.

Re:Unexpected? (3, Informative)

Microlith (54737) | about a year and a half ago | (#42790301)

Nonsense.

The core problem with Android is a core problem with ARM, namely that all of the nice plug-and-play stuff that lets a single kernel, and thus an Ubuntu live CD, boot on many systems doesn't exist in ARM. So each handset has to have the kernel adapted to it. And since this adaptation has to be done for every kernel Google releases, the handset vendors get lazy particularly as the kernel moves on and leaves their older, out of tree drivers behind.

This has little to nothing to do with regular Linux distros because compatibility across them is actually quite good and as of Jellybean there is nothing other than the kernel in Android that is used by other open source projects.

That they fail to push security fixes, let alone new Android versions, is because they just don't give a fuck.

Too many phones! (1)

HRbnjR (12398) | about a year and a half ago | (#42789957)

The problem is Android phone manufacturers, rooted in traditionally consumer electronics oriented companies, are pumping out far more models than they could ever hope to provide adequate support for, as they aren't used to actually having to provide long term support for anything. This is one area they could really learn something from Apple, whose home computer roots have taught them what's involved with proper support. As consumer electronics get smarter, you're gonna see the same types of problems from everything these guys produce... next up, smart televisions. Those companies would have us just throw these perfectly good older devices away, and upgrade to a new ones, but I don't think consumers much like that idea - or at least, I know I don't.

Latest but not greatest (1)

Impy the Impiuos Imp (442658) | about a year and a half ago | (#42790247)

"Hardware vendors must make a unique version for each device and they have scarce resources."

Google, Samsung, and Verizon have scarce resources? Are earning little from this? Bitch, please x2

This is one of many reasons why (3, Insightful)

erroneus (253617) | about a year and a half ago | (#42790385)

In previous comments related to carriers and phones, I stated that I am done with carrier games.

I am done with carriers selling me "discounted" phones which are actually far over-priced when required and unwanted data plans are added to the mix. I am done with carriers and their spyware and bloatware. I am done with carriers controlling the obsolesence of my device by providing late updates or failing to update them at all.

Long ago I recognized the potential for security issues which predictably would not be managed by the carriers well or at all.

Apple has it easier and it was by design. There are fewer models of iPhone so everyone is happier. Users know what they've got. The accessory makers are better guaranteed sales of mass produced products. Apple's carriers don't get to corrupt the iPhone and therefore there is more sanity when it comes to user concerns like bugs and security.

I have a Google Nexus. Not quite my ideal phone, but less expensive than unlocked/unbranded Samsung Galaxy S3. It is more likely to get updates and fixes and within my power to install and use custom ROMs.

Carriers care more about themselves than their customers. It is clear and evident. Why keep hoping and demanding that they care? Know them for what they are and respond.

No cash, no updates (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42790771)

For Android, updates only come with phone contracts.

So, if you buy a wifi Android device (similar to an iPod Touch), how do you get updates?

Answer: You don't. There is no business model for updating that kind of device.

Discuss.

not so fast (1)

Charliemopps (1157495) | about a year and a half ago | (#42790855)

Usually, that’s not often because the hardware vendor has thin [profit] margins. Whenever Google updates Android, engineers have to modify it for each phone, chip, radio card that relies on the OS. Hardware vendors must make a unique version for each device and they have scarce resources. Engineers are usually focused on the current version, and devices that are coming out in the next year.

That's pretty funny, because there's a small group out there that manages to provide nightly updates for almost EVERY PHONE ON THE MARKET for free... http://get.cm/?type=nightly [get.cm]

It seems to me like a carrier could simply let you switch to CM10 and get your updates from them as long as you agree that their updates are your problem and not the carriers... oooh... wait... the problem isn't updating Android... the problem is updating all their adware revenue bullshit to work with android, not the OS. I forgot. Sorry!

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