updated 04:55 pm EDT, Fri April 27, 2012
AOSP vet sees no issue with Android update delays
Google's Android Open Source Project (AOSP) engineer Jean-Baptiste Queru drew flak late Thursday after comments that many have interpreted as giving a pass on slow Android upgrade intervals. He saw Sony's Android 4.0 upgrades having rolled out in a "very reasonable time," five months after 4.0 was available, given the nature of the OS. Sony had even had a head start, since its AOSP code contributions gave it an idea of what to expect for its own upgrades, he said.
To Queru, the real obstacles were carriers, whose approval processes meant that Nexus-badged phones or the Motorola Xoom either weren't getting Android 4.0 at all or weren't up to the most recent 4.0.4 version. The engineer and followers would later confirm that it was a direct allusion to Verizon, which has left its own Galaxy Nexus on an older version, although even unlocked HSPA+ versions are sometimes stuck on 4.0.2.
He was thankful Google was now selling phones directly to guarantee that customers didn't have "middlemen" carriers interfering with updates.
The remarks have already drawn some criticism by underscoring the inherent problems with timely Android version upgrades. Despite the Galaxy Nexus having shipped in November for some users, most phones that are either technically capable of running Android 4.0 or have had promised upgrades still don't have the new version. Most hardware makers outside of Samsung have complained that they didn't even see Android 4.0 code until the Galaxy Nexus was ready, making it difficult to get their software ready in a timely way.
Google has usually downplayed the worries about OS version gaps, but observers have pointed out potentially serious consequences for delays on the part of Google, carriers, and hardware designers. Devices without 4.0 can't run some modern apps and the features they bring, including Google's own Chrome for Android. On a wider level, it also leaves devices potentially vulnerable to substantial technical flaws and security exploits that aren't necessarily fixable through an interim update.
Claims of reasonableness likewise contrast sharply with Apple's experience updating iOS. Where just a small percentage of all Android users have 4.0, most iOS users got 5.1 in days. A delay for Android is somewhat unavoidable without Google having the luxury of direct hardware integration, but the lack of steps to accelerate the process for carriers and OEMs has magnified the difference. [via Droid-Life]