Why are We Still Waiting on the Carriers/Manufacturers for Updates?


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  1. bemymonkey

    bemymonkey Active Member This Topic's Starter

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    Hi everyone!

    So, everyone here (except Nexus One users, probably) is most likely reading this subforum because they're waiting for an update for their Android phone. I myself am waiting for a Froyo update for my locked-down Milestone, hoping it'll get here some time during the lifetime of my phone...

    Now my question is: Why is the update system this way? Why are the carriers and manufacturers responsible for pushing out their own firmware updates when we've got devices that are perfectly capable of getting firmware updates directly from Google over the web?

    Sure, carrier customization, brandings, Sense-UI type custom skinning and all is nice to have, but why is there no "vanilla" upgrade path for people who just want a generic Android that's actually up to date? Imagine getting OTA notifications on _any_ Android phone as soon as Google pushes them out the door...


    Are there actually technical reasons for this situation? Drivers or something like that?

    Or is it more likely that the situation is due to pressure from carriers, who would probably refuse to carry Android phones if this was the case?

    Obviously Android is still somewhat customizable, with custom ROMs and such (if you're lucky enough to not have a locked bootloader - oh wait, us Milestone owners were probably the only people in history dumb enough not to check for something like that before shelling out the cash), but it's still nowhere near as open as I'd imagined before I actually got my first phone.

    In fact, it strongly reminds me of the Windows Mobile community - devices abandoned by the manufacturer, with the only way to get new updates being custom ROMs with the fun of voiding your warranty on the way...



    I certainly know I'll be getting the next Google Dev Phone (or whatever it is they're currently calling the Nexus One), and not some third-party handset, precisely because of this problem.



    What are your thoughts? Why are we even in this situation? How are we going to get out of it? Or are 80% of Android phones on the market simply destined to be outdated relics (software-wise) a year after their release?
     

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  2. bbrosen

    bbrosen Well-Known Member

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    I was not happy to find this out coming from the iphone, it was a big disapointment for me, and a major drawback imho. The carriers must request and pay for software updates from the handset manufacturer, and then must spend more money testing the builds on their network. also, their apps and branding must be included as well, as most carriers do not want to give up their identity, lest they just become a nameless faceless pipeline for the data and phone services of said smartphones. carriers are not about to do that for a long while.

    So, like when i spoke with HTC, they will not build froyo for the hero, unless a carrier specifically asks for a build. Handset makers also want to be "special" and have their own ui's and branding as well, so as to make them different to set them apart from others...so because of this there is no universal solution to upgrades as of yet...very bad choice to make right out of the gate but again, it's open source, it will probably always be confusing and mish mashed because it will now be in vehicles, tv's and eventually other house hold appliances.. who knows how many variants of the android os will pop up...
     
  3. bemymonkey

    bemymonkey Active Member This Topic's Starter

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    That's pretty much the same experience I had.

    I bought my Milestone thinking I'd be getting updates directly from Google (since everyone has been talking about how great Android is and how it gets OTA updates and is always on the newest version, blah blah blah)... boy was I surprised when I started to understand the things people were saying on forums ("Root? What's root? Bootloader? What for, I've got OTA updates!").

    Oh well, guess I know better now. Any idea when the next Googlephone's coming out? ;). Here's hoping that the switch to yearly updates will have a positive effect on the situation...
     
  4. mrmojoz

    mrmojoz Well-Known Member

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    No one EVER said this about anything but the Nexus One. 30 seconds of reading about the platform would have told you all you needed to know.
     
  5. bemymonkey

    bemymonkey Active Member This Topic's Starter

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    For someone who's never owned an Android device, Android is Android - just like Ubuntu is Ubuntu and Windows is Windows. I actually spent a few weeks reading forums while I was deciding which device to get, and while I did hit a few threads mentioning things like waiting for an update from Motorola (at the time, everyone was waiting for 2.0.1 for the Milestone) and the signed/locked bootloader, they didn't really make sense to me until it was too late to return the phone...


    But please, enlighten me - show me a place where one would look as a prospective buyer of an Android phone that states some form of the following:

    "If you buy any Android phone other than the Google Nexus One, you will be completely dependent on your carrier and/or handset manufacturer for any and all future OS updates. You are buying the phone as-is and have no right to expect support for any predefined amount of time and might not get any upgrades at all. If you are lucky enough to have bought a phone with an unlocked bootloader, you may flash custom firmware in order to stay up to date, voiding the warranty and opening up the minute possibility of a bricked device and/or malware."

    They should put that on the back cover of all Android phones - like the warning labels on cigarette packs or the side-effects lists that come with medicine... :rolleyes:
     
  6. mrmojoz

    mrmojoz Well-Known Member

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    Okay, this thread.
     
  7. bemymonkey

    bemymonkey Active Member This Topic's Starter

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    Lol.
     
  8. DaSchmarotzer

    DaSchmarotzer Blame it on me VIP Member

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    I have to agree with bemymonkey, I was kind of let down when I got my first Android device. I got Android because I knew there would be updates, and because it was "so customizable". Of course, I was absolutely wrong.

    My phone is still stuck on 1.6, and for the customization, well, it's much more complicated than I first thought. Good thing I'm not a complete noob with computers and that there is a nice community supporting my phone and releasing ROMs.
     
  9. Creegz

    Creegz Member

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    So if I understand this correctly, my phone isn't updated because Telus won't ask for it? I think we should form a petition of some sort for each carrier and submit it, showing we want upgraded OS's. I would easily leave Telus if another carrier had an upgraded phone and looked like they would continually update on a regular level. I can understand 2 months, especially for a SenseUI phone, but 6? Seriously? Newer and older phones are even on 2.0....
     
  10. Tangent

    Tangent Well-Known Member

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    The way I see it, most manufacturers still look at the average smart phone user as being non tech-savvy, and they're probably right. With the exception of one of my fellow network admins that has one so he can provide support, none of the user's of my work's Android devices would know Froyo from Frodo.

    Manufacturers have two options: 1) Delay getting updates to the handsets so they can keep their customizations. 2) Allow the vanilla upgrade path. As much as I'd appreciate the option of an easy vanilla upgrade, it honestly wouldn't be the smart decision for them. They would much rather have somebody show off a phone with 1.6 and their shiny interface that nobody else has, than 2.2 with nothing shiny to grab the attention of the average user. If everybody was using vanilla 2.2, why in the world would somebody new to Android bother looking for a Cliq, or Mytouch specifically? As it is, the majority of new users will be specifically attracted to a phone with Motoblur or Sense and will make it a point to find a device with that on it. This of course is good business for HTC and Motorola.
     
  11. bemymonkey

    bemymonkey Active Member This Topic's Starter

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    Hi Tangent!

    There are a few problems I see here:

    1. Why would allowing a vanilla upgrade path preclude also having customized versions that are pushed OTA automatically, as they are now? The vanilla upgrade path could be made purely optional, only for users who require the new features and/or bugfixes provided by newer versions of Android that aren't yet available as customized versions.

    2. Most people I know have no idea what Motoblur/Sense/Touchwiz etc. are. They buy an Android phone because they like the hardware ("Ooooh, shiny!"), and, well, it's got Android on it, so it's open source, upgradeable and backed by Google. The problem is, they don't know that Android isn't always really Android...

    Sure, a lot of people might also buy a phone because they liked the skin, but in most cases they probably don't even know that it's a skin and not just the way the OS itself is...
     
  12. Tangent

    Tangent Well-Known Member

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    One wouldn't preclude the other, but it would eliminate one potential "HTC has this and Motorola doesn't" phone from use. Most companies very jealously guard the "user experience" their devices are seen with.

    I agree with you on the "oooh shiny" part, but I honestly think the benefits of open source and its upgradability are lost on the vast majority of Android phone buyers. A really, really rough perspective on total number of Android users vs the number that know or care about what they have, let alone how to mod it: This forum, talkandroid.com, and androidcommunity.com collectively have 277,776 members. TMobile sold almost 4 times that many G1s in the first 6 months they were available. Per a report from this February, 60,000 Android phones were being shipped every day. Even if we conservatively say that only 1 in 10 people really into Android and its capabilities register on forums, and that 3 three forums I picked represent only half of the Android forum users out there, that still only leaves us with just over 5.5 million people. That's only 3 months worth of sales...

    Exactly, most people don't know the difference between a skin and the OS. All they know is that The Cliq has that really cool facebook thingy on the screen and the Evo doesn't. I'd guess there's a disturbingly high percentage of Android phone users out there that don't even know what Android is, let alone that they have it. This is why Motorola would prefer we don't replace their Motoblur skinned version with vanilla Android. They want all those people to see that UI and think it's something completely unique to Motorola phones.
     
  13. Creegz

    Creegz Member

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    In total honesty, I was attracted to the hero since it was the first phone I could get with Sense on it. I had researched Sense and I really like the features, as well as the apps like Peep and the texting widget as well as the people widget. These things made the OS stand out for me. It is why my mother in law bought it. She was gonna get an iPhone, which I said "alright, but look at this first" and she went for it because of how accessible some of it was for her. That made android stand out for her. Me on the other hand I was going to get android and root it until I found sense. I didn't buy a hero for the hardware.

    I did hear one good thing about the Telus hero. I got a Telus guy to contact HTC and see if they had plans for the new OS, and he said they should have it ready very soon for us. I don't know if that's the Blizzard definition of soon, but it was more than I was getting from email support at least.
     
  14. bemymonkey

    bemymonkey Active Member This Topic's Starter

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    Hmmm, I always assumed this was the exception to the rule ;)
     

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