Can you update Android phones?


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  1. edojones

    edojones Member This Topic's Starter

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    Hi, simple question from someone new to Android:

    So I get my shiny new Android phone, can I update it with the latest version of Android? This may sound like a duh question but I have been used to getting a phone and accepting whatever OS was on it. When I want to move on I just moved to a newer model until again I get a new phone and so on...

    I am particularly interested in developing for Android and I wanted to know if some phones were more locked than others or can I assume that if a phone says it is Android based then it will behave like other Android phones (baring of course major OS updates).

    Regards

    Edward Jones
     

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  2. Pryomancer

    Pryomancer Well-Known Member

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    You can't update it yourself, it's up to Google and your network carrier.
     
  3. Starfleet Captain

    Starfleet Captain Well-Known Member

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    Android phones are more locked and tied into manufacturer and Carriers. So, there are two answers to your question:

    1st the "Official" answer: NO! Plain and simple. You cannot upgrade your OS until the Manufacturer releases a carrier approved update. Depending on the device you get, this may or may not happen. There are several reasons for this. The first is the hardware. EVen though its been unofficially proven that the G1 (America's first Android device) can run all versions of Android, The hardware performance on these devices may not be acceptable on an OS upgrade. Secondly, the maufacturer and the Manufacterer skins are also to blame. Since each Android device has different
    hardware, the driver codes are different and an OS upgrade will have to be custom coded by the Manufacturer. Also, manufacturers like to custom code their own UI "skins" on top of the OS to make the user experience more prettier and feature filled. Samsung uses Touchwiz, HTC uses Sense and Motorola use MotoBlur. Then, some manufacturers do not use a skin at all.

    Here's an example: Late in 2009, HTC released The HTC Hero on Sprint. It was running Android 1.6 with HTC Sense UI overlay. a few months later in Early 2010, Google unveiled the Nexus 1, which runs Android 2.1. This has no Skin Overlay. SImply Naked Android. HTC and Sprint just last month released an OS update for the HTC Hero. HTC has to rewrite its Sense UI into Android 2.1 and then test it many times to ensure that it performs well on the hardware and network that the phone runs on. This is why it takes so long. In the meantime, several other devices, (Looking at you Motorola Cliq) are still waiting for the upgrade.

    Answer 2: Maybe, if you Root your phone. This is basically hacking into your OS and accessing its "root" directory and installing an OS of your choice or making tweaks to it. And example: The HTC HERO was rooted and had a custome verion of Android 2.1 installed on it well before the official realease came out. So, if you are interested in being a developer, this might intrigue you, as more and more people are looking into the "Root" option to get more functionality, customization, and performance out of their phones. Lets not talk about what rooting does to your warranty. You are smart enough to know that. :)
     
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  4. Pryomancer

    Pryomancer Well-Known Member

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    Doesn't the Android emulator for testing code come in the different versions allowing you to test all the different ones?
     
  5. edojones

    edojones Member This Topic's Starter

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    Thankyou for your prompt and useful replies! It has helped clarify my first few points, so I guess now it is time to download the SDK and have a play...!


    Regards

    Edward Jones
     
  6. StarTrekkie

    StarTrekkie New Member

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    Starfleet Captain- could you elaborate more on why updating a phone or tablet to the newest version is difficult? how does it mess with the hardware and how come the companies producing these products (ex: Google and the Android tablet) did not think that a "one-fit all" hardware was the best option?

    Also, why is rooting a device bad? What happens if you are "caught"? I am sure that there are many more people doing far worse with rooted devices so would the phone companies monetarily penalize you?

    Thanks!
     
  7. ocnbrze

    ocnbrze DON'T PANIC!!!!!!!!! Moderator

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    welcome to the forums!!!!!!!!!

    i think what he is saying is that you can only upgrade to what the carrier and manufacturer allows officially. like htc evo 4g cannot get past gingerbread unless you root the phone. now this mainly because the phone cannot handle these new updates. however the developers have figure out a way to optimize the phone running the newer updates like ics or jb. but again you will have to be rooted.

    and i do not think he was saying that rooting is bad.....it does void your warranty. and nothing will happen if you are caught. but some carriers will void your warranty. but sprint has changed their view on rooted phones. so it is not a big issue for them.
     
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  8. Hadron

    Hadron VIP Member VIP Member

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    Hi StarTrekkie, and welcome to AF :)

    Starfleet Captain (were you attracted by the name ? ;)) hasn't posted in a year and a half, so I wouldn't wait too long for a reply there. But let me try:

    Official updates only happen if the manufacturer builds one. At some point it's not worth their while - they don't get money from providing updates to devices that are no longer made, and while they may gain some goodwill (and thus increased sales down the line) they have to make a choice on the pros of that vs the cost of support. So at some point they stop. It doesn't mess with the hardware, but the point will come when the old hardware won't perform adequately with the new software, especially if they add their own skins and mods (HTC Sense, Samsung's TouchWiz, Motorola's Blur, etc.) which use more resources than vanilla android.

    Why not a "one fit all" hardware? You mean everyone use the same cpu, screen, digitizer, graphics chipsets, radios, etc? That results in very little variety in hardware, and wouldn't be interesting for very many manufacturers. If Google owned the entire chain and didn't let anyone else play you could do that, but that really would be copying Apple.

    Rooting is "bad" in that the manufacturer will usually take the attitude that you've interfered with the device and so your warranty is void. And that's all. Oh, and since rooting gives you more control, someone who roots but doesn't know what they are doing has more ways of messing their device up that they couldn't do without root ;). You'll find that a lot of the members here are running rooted devices.

    Edit: Ah, ninja'd - I type too much!
     

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