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Are all these Android OS updates really a good thing?

Discussion in 'Android Lounge' started by Red_Avatar, Mar 2, 2011.

  1. Red_Avatar

    Red_Avatar Well-Known Member
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    One of the main topics I see on these boards, is discussions about whether update X will be coming to phone Y or provider Z. This is getting silly and out of hand!!

    The whole Android demography is getting split over different updates because the ignorant providers insist on using a custom version of the Android OS and then end up not updating when everyone else does or some phones no longer receive global updates at all, or months later! All this is a nightmare for a developer because he needs to check his app on all of the different OS versions AND take into account what functions are available and to who.

    The way it's going, people will be forced to buy a new phone just to get an OS upgrade - even when it's not needed and their phone is capable of running the new OS version. It basically gives phone manufacturers the power to "end" support for an older phone to push people towards getting a new phone even if their old one still works.

    Luckily, there's such a thing as ROMs but how many regular users will know to install them? I'm a bit worried when support for my own HTC Desire will cease and my phone will no longer be able to run newer apps unless I flash some custom ROM.
     

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  2. Frisco

    Frisco =Luceat Lux Vestra=
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    Great points, Red Avatar.

    Post moved out of the News area to the Android Lounge for you.
     
  3. snapper.fishes

    snapper.fishes Android Expert
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    But the only alternative would be to restrict all the Android phones to use the same hardware, meaning that all android phones will differ only in appearance.
     
  4. novox77

    novox77 Leeeroy Jennnkinnns!
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    That's one side of the argument. The other is that Android was INTENTIONALLY released under the Apache Software License (ASL) rather than the Gnu General Public License (GPL).

    ASL allows the manufacturers to add proprietary stuff on top of Android. GPL does not. Google's goal was to gain market share with Android, and they decided more manufacturers would adopt Android under an ASL. After all, if no manufacturer could add their customizations without making it open source under the GPL, what would be the incentive? The end result would be phones that all work the same way, the way Google designed it. There'd be nothing to differentiate one android phone from the other, except the aesthetic differences of the exterior. Starting to sound iPhoney right?

    Now that Android adoption is good, we may see Google change some of its policies. Google's leverage with the manufacturers is with access to the Market. If a manufacturer does not comply with Google's requirements, that device won't get access to the Market.

    Personally, I don't think Google needs to get involved. Manufacturers who form a bad reputation in terms of rolling out updates will start to lose sales. Those that keep Android up to date will reap the benefits.

    And regarding "regular" customers, by definition, they don't care what version they are on. They just use the phone for its feature. Most won't be able to tell you what version Android is running on their phone. Some might not even be able to tell you what Android is exactly.

    For the rest of us, we have the option to flash away the manufacturer's UI if we wish. And sites like this help the less tech-savvy how to do the same.
     
  5. Red_Avatar

    Red_Avatar Well-Known Member
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    Good points - my main annoyance are the mobile operators. You buy a phone from a store and discover it's branded! On top of that, you suddenly don't get updates everyone is getting (happened to me until I rooted it).

    Ironically, this happened to iMacs as well - Apple constantly update their OS but release them as non-free versions and new software often refuses to run on older versions. So maybe phone manufacturers can do a similar thing: stop support after X years and then make it an option to pay a small amount for updates after that period. Better than having no updates at all, surely?
     
  6. lunatic59

    lunatic59 Moderati ergo sum
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    I would just like to point out that the carriers are not ignorant and don't provide OS updates out of laziness, incompetence or malice. Nor is it a blatant disregard for customers' wishes. Especially with the rapid growth of the Android platform and the flurry of major and minor updates flowing out of Google, it becomes nearly impossible to keep every phone, both past and current, updated, let alone the phones that are still in development.

    Let's look at this from the other side. I'll use HTC as an example, 1.) because you have a Desire and they have a good reputation in this area and, 2.) it's easier to type than Samsung or Motorola ;). HTC decides to introduce a new phone using Android. Taking plain Android, they adapt the code to work with their hardware. It keeps the software footprint smaller than if Google tried to put out a universal version that included all possible drivers and features in one installer.

    That's all good from a hardware perspective, but they now have a phone that differentiates itself only by hardware. To make the device more attractive to consumers, they modify the UI to provide a unique HTC experience. Sense UI, in this case, which also includes some very nice HTC-only widgets and apps. Once they are satisfied that the hardware is capable, the OS is working properly and the UI is pretty enough, they send it to the carrier for testing on their network.

    The carrier will modify the phone as well to include (or disable) features based on the consumer's contract options. Once the carrier is satisfied, it goes back to HTC for further testing to make sure the carrier's modifications didn't negatively impact the OS or their customizations. Then it goes back tot he carrier and if they are satisfied all their changes are still working properly, they release the phone for sale and hopefully make tons of money from selling phones and contracts.

    Along comes Google three months later and says here's the next tasty treat of an update to the OS. Of course Joe and Jane consumer want it. The problem is that Joe and Jane still have 18 months left on their contracts so they aren't going to buy a new device now. Instead they ask for the update.

    Unless an update fixes something that was supposed to work, but didn't due to a bug or incompatibility, HTC and the carrier are under no obligation to update the phone. You get what you get at the time of sale. The problem for them is they know if you sit there for the next 18 months feeling ignored and left behind, by the time it comes to buy a new device and renew your contract, you'll be hating on them big time.

    They make the prudent business decision and put the update into the works. Remember, they've already made their money and this is a revenue black hole for the company (and none too pleasing to shareholders). So they modify they new OS for the phone and add their widgets and apps, which most likely will require new development costs due to the OS update. Then it goes to the carrier for their changes and back to HTC for testing. Keep in mind that they are diligent in this process because not only would a bad update not be good for their image, but would be a support nightmare incurring additional cost.

    So it's not an easy decision or process. The option would be to make Android vanilla for everybody, but then there would be nothing to differentiate an HTC from an LG other than hardware. Besides, some people absolutely love Sense while others think Blur is "daBomb". It's both the beauty and the curse of having choice.

    That's the developer's job. Android, IMO, would have never blossomed into a market leader without the variety and options. If they wish to reap the rewards, they should be ready to do he work.

    To a degree, that's exactly what they want. It's a balance between marketing and manufacturing ... welcome to the capitalist consumer market. It is also unreasonable for a company to support legacy hardware forever, let alone keep it current.

    To the users that care, they will take the time to learn, even though it's not hard at all. To those that don't care, it's a non-issue. Most people expect the phone they buy to work as was supposed to the day they bought it until the hardware fails or they upgrade to a new one, and in reality, that's what happens.
     
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  7. MyNamesTooLong

    MyNamesTooLong Android Expert
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    Seems like a double edged sword to me...All the phone specific forums I cruise though, its either "I got my update now my phone sucks" or "I hate so and so for not updating my phone." Thats the case in every forum for phones I own now or in the past. Personally I find it funny how all of a sudden phones are supposed to be kept up to date, yet no one complains about apple/microsoft updating their old computer, or software updates for their tv's to be 3d. Honestly the companies are a business. I they made super phones capable of anything android could throw at it they wouldnt be very profitable
     
  8. gruss

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    I think to many people want updates just to say they got it....really I'm not all that anxious for gingerbread, I like my inc as I have it set up, now sense 2.0 is actually what I'm waiting for (or a stable port anyway ;)). Now I was salivating for Froyo but that was a big leap, phone ran faster/smoother and there were bugs in 2.1 that bothered me.
    I've tried vanilla, personally I like HTC's sense, (hat's off to any company that could make winmo somewhat usable). Now yes I've modified my phone to my liking but the point is the differences, while maybe delaying updates (which if your phone aint broke don't know why you need it so bad), are driving the UI to get better and more polished. Isn't that the iPhone peoples first defense? I'm not a fan of apple but if nothing else an iphone 4's UI is pretty fluid. imo if it was stagnated on one version, I think it's highly unlikely we'd see the rapid enhancements to the android UI that we've seen from all the manufacturers.
     
  9. Stuntman

    Stuntman Android Expert
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    Updates for anything seems to be the "in" thing right now. I keep getting update notifications for the apps I have on my phone. At the moment, I would only apply updates that I think I need and just forget about the rest.

    I'm going to approach the Gingerbread update with a little caution. I'm not sure exactly what feature it has that I really want or need. I know it's supposed to have better power management than Froyo. This may be enough for me to get it, but I'll wait and see how much of an improvement this really is first.
     

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