The Waiting (for Android Updates) is the Hardest Part

I have a Motorola Droid 4 – and I really love it. That said, it is lousy being not just one but TWO VERSIONS of Android behind … I mean, this is the sort of thing Google said they were eliminating. Anyway … that is about to end!

Yesterday I read that the ‘Ice Cream Sandwich’ update was finally approved and a ‘soak test’ commenced, meaning that the full update would be released soon (unless something bad happened).

Then later last night I heard that it was starting to ‘roll out in phases’. Motorola Mobility tweeted about it:

4G LTE + LED edge-lit QWERTY + ICS is sweet! Android 4.0 for DROID 4 is rolling out in phases: http://moto.ly/d4ics

So what does this MEAN? It means … I wait. Unlike the vastly superior iOS method of announcing an update and letting people … um, get the update, Android has updates ‘tossed to the wild’ where vast inefficient committees of carriers and handset makers work through what devices will get what updates and when, and what might or might not be included from the original update.

As a result, more than 6 months after the Droid 4 was released – at which time Android 4.0x was already several months old – users are seeing the update. Of course, it isn’t the NEW operating system (Jelly Bean, which itself is already a month or so old) we’re getting … but it is better than the very long-in-the-tooth Gingerbread.

And … it is much better than being someone who showed support for Motorola and Verizon by jumping early on the LTE train – and are STILL waiting for their ICS update!

What do you think about the update system for Android? How long have you waited for your updates? And how do you feel about so many updates now only going to ICS rather than Jelly Bean?

At least Tom Petty can feel our pain …

Categories: Gear Bits, News

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4 replies

  1. I think the entire Android ecosystem, of which updates are a part, is broken. The fact that the level of support for various platforms (computers) and various devices varies as much as it does is broken. The fact that app developers can’t make the money they make on iOS keeps some big name and key apps from ever being developed, or, being updated (fixed) in a timely manner (yes, fragmentation is part of that problem too), indicates that the system is broken. The process that makes most folks to have to wait for the carrier and/or manufacturer to get it together before an update can come out is seriously flawed (no – most people DO NOT and WILL NOT root and go with alternate builds).
    I think, as a result, the long term future for Android will ultimately see fewer devices, not more, and they will be more closely aligned with the source – namely Google. Samsung and Motorola are clearly in line due to Samsungs size and Motorola’s already existing relationship with Google, but whoever it is, there will not be nearly as many players in the future because people will get fed up with the waiting and migrate to where they can get the latest and the greatest. Then if they can figure out how to get most Android owners to actually PAY for apps so that developers will find a reason to release them and support them we’d be all set!

    • I don’t think it’s broken, perse especially if you go with an unlocked Nexus device.

      However, I think this is going to bite the carrier in the butt soon as one thing that updates do is patch security holes. Verizon doesn’t patch Windows machines or iOS….why do they insist on patching their other phones?

      It’s all an issue of control and Verizon has it. They shouldn’t.

      • “if you go with an unlocked Nexus device”

        And if to get an ‘unbroken experience’ you have to buy only ONE out of the 500 Android devices – and only ONE of the four models of that device – then I feel safe in saying that it is broken.

        I think we basically agree – the confab of Google, handset makers and carriers makes things overly complex and cumbersome – and ultimately frustrating and inefficient for customers. Actual human customers, that it.

        And THAT is why it is broken – Google doesn’t care about humans when it comes to Android except for selling our eyeballs. Moto/Samsung/etc only care about getting us to buy new hardware every year, and Verizon/ATT/etc only care about keeping us in contracts. No one is motivated to maximize the customer experience except where it helps maintain loyalty.

    • Absolutely agree Chris. I am amazed that Android has significantly higher market share than iOS and yet pretty much everything I see is released ‘iOS first’. I KNOW that is because of where the money comes from … but it is a huge issue for the platform.

      Also … as I sit on ‘Day Four’ of trying to force an update to happen THAT IS AVAILABLE, I am just stunned. But I think there is an easy solution – allow natural roll-outs to happen, but if someone tries to hit up the server then give them the update. Seems to make sense … especially when you think about the relatively small number of devices sold for any one model of Android phone (with exception of SGS II and III, of course)