Curious why it takes half a year for most handset makers to release major software updates? Motorola just shared a blog post that details the four steps they must go through in order to release an update to customers. We already knew that Google released the source code for Android 4.0 last month, but Motorola customers should expect a wait of at least 4-6 months minimum.
Motorola said the following steps must take place before a release hits your device:
- 1. Merge and adapt the new release for different device hardware architecture(s) and carrier customizations: This means that we take the source code and incorporate it into upgrades for devices on which this can perform well, along with making sure the carrier requirements are met. Silicon partners such as Qualcomm, TI, and nVidia adapt this to their chipsets in parallel and we incorporate these as they become available. This is also the time when we begin integrating all of the Motorola-specific software enhancements into the source code. Features like MotoCast, Smart Actions, and our comprehensive enterprise solutions are integral parts of our device experiences, and we want to make sure we continue delivering differentiated experiences for our consumers with these software upgrades.
- 2. Stabilize and ‘bake’ the result to drive out bugs: This means that we will prepare the upgrade to meet the quality and stability requirements to enter the wireless carrier’s certification lab.
- 3. Submit the upgrade to the carriers for certification: This is the point in the process where the carrier’s lab qualifies and tests the upgrade. Each carrier has different requirements for phases 2 and 3. There may be a two-month preparation cycle to enter a carrier lab cycle of one to three months.
- 3.5 Perform a Customer pre-release: We may perform some customer testing before a final release is delivered publicly to our user base.
- 4. Release the upgrade: We are planning on upgrading as many of our phones as possible. The ability to offer the upgrade depends on a number of factors including the hardware/device capabilities, the underlying chipset software support, the ICS support and then the ability to support the Motorola value add software.
To recap earlier news, Motorola is still planning to upgrade the Droid RAZR, Motorola RAZR, Motorola XOOM (including Family Edition) and Droid Bionic to Android 4.0. They are still evaluating other handsets, and you should check the Motorola Android Software Upgrade News page for more information.
As Kellen of Droid-Life points out, Verizon is very thorough when it comes to testing new software updates, and he estimates June or July of 2012 as the time period when the newly released RAZR and Bionic could see Android 4.0.
Hopefully after Google completes their acquisition of Motorola, we will see the time to market for major software updates shrink. How long of a wait do you think customers should endure for major updates like Android 4.0?
Update: Sony Ericsson has also detailed their path to Ice Cream Sandwich, from source code to software upgrade.