May 08 AT 9:28 AM Anthony Domanico 71 Comments

AT&T and Google exchange blows over Android update process

android_404

AT&T’s CEO Randall Stephenson isn’t too happy with the Android update process. In a response to a question about the slow update process, Stephenson put the blame squarely on Google, stating:

Google determines what platform gets the newest releases and when. A lot of times, that’s a negotiated arrangement and that’s something we work at hard. We know that’s important to our customers. That’s kind of an ambiguous answer because I can’t give you a direct answer in this setting.Randall StephensonAT&T

It’s unclear exactly what Mr. Stephenson is referring to here. This response flies in the face of how we understand the upgrade process to work. When Google finalizes an operating system update, it pushes that update as open source to source.android.com as soon as the first device with the new software is released. That gives handset makers access to the release, which they then customize to their heart’s content, then submit to carriers for approval.

AT&T has a whopping two devices that has been upgraded to Android 4 “Ice Cream Sandwich,” Google’s own Nexus S and the HTC Vivid. All other Android handsets on the carrier’s network are running either Android 2.3 Gingerbread or 2.2 Froyo, though some Samsung Galaxy S II devices have ICS coming soon. It’s possible Stephenson is referring to the Verizon-branded Galaxy Nexus, which went nearly 5 months without getting an update from 4.0.2 (to 4.0.3 or 4.0.4), an update rumored to fix several issues with the device and bring it in line with the most recent version of ICS.

Still, only a handful of devices are currently running Android 4, with all of Google’s Nexus handsets running on the newest platform except for the three year old Nexus One. It’s clear to us that Google has done all it can to get the update out to devices, and that the delayed implementation lies in the hands of handset makers and carriers.

Google was obviously bothered by Stephenson’s criticism, and issued the following response:

Mr. Stephenson’s carefully worded quote caught our attention and frankly we don’t understand what he is referring to. Google does not have any agreements in place that require a negotiation before a handset launches. Google has always made the latest release of Android available as open source at source.android.com as soon as the first device based on it has launched. This way, we know the software runs error-free on hardware that has been accepted and approved by manufacturers, operators and regulatory agencies such as the FCC. We then release it to the world.Google

Google obviously doesn’t want to take blame for the Android 4 update mess, which sees only a handful of smartphones running the latest version of Android, which has been available to handset makers for over 5 months. Motorola, soon to become part of Google itself, provided insights as to the upgrade process back in December, and it was crystal clear from their account that the bulk of time taken in the update process is attributed to handset makers updating/re-building their custom UIs, and carriers adding the customary bloatware.

I think we can safely say that Mr. Stephenson got his facts wrong here, and that handset makers and carriers (including AT&T) need to take some responsibility for the delayed upgrade cycle. We’ll bring you any updates from AT&T as they weigh a response to Google’s statements this morning.

Via: 9 to 5 Google

Source: 9 to 5 Google

Anthony loves all things technology, from hardware to apps and games. You can connect with him via Google+ or Twitter by clicking one of the fancy doo-dads above.

    Most Tweeted This Week

  • spazby

    Hidden due to low comment rating. Click here to see.

    • erikiksaz

      Reading comprehension? Google makes update. Google pushes said update to source.android.com. Manufacturers customize the update. Carriers add bloatware and “test” update. How would you propose that Google does anything more than it set out to do, which only encompasses the first two steps I outlined above?

      • http://htcsource.com Nick Gray

        Google needs to work closer with OEMs and component makers to update the drivers. That’s the main issue which is holding updates back. I don’t buy Motorola’s excuse about bloatware and skins holding back updates since HTC pushed out its first updates to ICS with a custom skin and carrier bloatware before Google was able to get it working properly on the Nexus S.

        • BruceCLin

          Not to defend Google as they did messed up on the OTA update for Nexus S for regular consumers, but the full 4.0.3 rom was ready on their server and on my Nexus S 1 week after Galaxy Nexus drop.

        • Doan

          Do you expect Google to pick favorites (specific carriers/manufacturers/mobile devices), or work with every new mobile device that comes out?

          Your suggestion is unrealistic. I haven’t seen drivers mentioned as a reason for slow updates by a single manufacturer.

        • JessSayin

          Agree although I still don’t have ICS on my HTC Amaze 4G that came out last October. (I know, I know, It’s coming in a month.)
          Also, Why did it take Google 4 months to get ICS on my Nexus S 4G with Sprint when it was being released on other devices that were not pure Google devices.
          “First to receive updates” my ass!

          • thel0nerang3r

            The Nexus devices is the only only phones that I would hold Google accountable. I updated mine with a link from XDA. Sucks that CDMA devices are no longer “developer” phones. Thems the breaks, which sucks for people on CDMA networks.

      • spazby

        I wasn’t clear – my fault. Google needs to bring everyone together and work very closely with them to make this more timely – not just put the update out there and say we are done. They are the only ones that have their hand in with all carriers and all manufacturers…

        • Derek R-C

          Disagree. Right now Google stands away from the blame. it wouldn’t be smart from a business stand point if those meetings went bad (as they surely would)

          Here is how the meetings go in mind:
          Google: Ok we will release the new OS on this date. Hardware you need to update in this much time and carrier you need to update in this much time.

          Hardware and Carriers: But that doesn’t give us enough time to put our sh*t in there that no one wants but we somehow think keeps the users coming back to our product.

          Google: I guess you have to put in less sh*t

          Hardware and Carriers: No

          Now they are in a deadlock and it makes google look bad for not getting it worked out when it is clearly the hardware and carriers fault when they put in so much bloatware and UI changes.

          • spazby

            so what do you think it will take to solve this if not google? I don’t see any other way.

          • leaponover

            I think spazby is trying to say, just because they are not to blame doesn’t mean they couldn’t do better. Sure they put it out there after they are done for everyone, but they could do more to help.

    • Joshua

      They can’t just push out updates, because it’s not possible to build one master image. The arm hardware platform isn’t standardized like the x86 hardware platform, as a result the source code HAS to be modified to work on the various chipsets and hardware differences. The only way Google could speed up the process would be to either dictate a hardware spec (like MS does for Windows Phone) or require vanilla android for access to the market, problem is either of these would slow down innovation (for the sake of timely updates/”better” user experience) and flies in the face of the open source philosophy, not to mention might make the carriers and OEM’s jump ship or go the Amazon route and make (or at least try) their own ecosystem, which would make fragmentation a hundred times worse (and you think its bad now)

      • David

        Finally someone understands open source development and its drawbacks, which is the disadvantage of dictating hardware platforms just to speed up things for a given company. I prefer the way it is, and if i don’t like what others are doing, I choose Nexus.

        People don’t seem to understand that in this open source Android world, we customers also have the word on how things go: by buying, naturally selecting products. Which is the opposite of what Microsoft and Apple are doing. They choose for us.

        • JessSayin

          I chose a Nexus phone for those very reasons…then chose an HTC phone 4 months later. My Nexus S 4G was a piece of S___!

        • leaponover

          Not even Nexus phones are helping with this. Updates have been slow for them too.

    • Louis A

      I think Google and OEM manufactures should have two version of every phone. The one that goes to carrier and another one (same phone) that customers can buy directly from manufactures so that we don’t have to always seat and wait for carriers when it comes time for updates. It’s clear they are they bottleneck. It might help push carries to work a little harder and drive more competition.

    • yankeesusa

      Please read and investigate before speaking out. It clearly states that google updates the phones accordingly and then lets manufacturers and carriers do what they want to get out the udpates to their specific phones. At this point its not google’s fault that verizon is taking a year to release their version of the update and att is… oh wait att doesn’t do a thing that helps the consumer.

    • Ps3y3Ops

      When you say Google needs to take ownership and fix it, I think what you’re saying is that Google needs to be more 1 on 1 with the OEMs and carriers rather than simply posting a link for the update and being done with it, in which case I agree with you.

    • jonathan3579

      Google needs to put the carriers and manufacturers in the hotseat.

  • http://htcsource.com Nick Gray

    I think he simply didn’t understand the question. I believe Stephenson’s comment about “negotiated arrangement” was more about launching a Nexus device than updating handsets to the latest version of Android.

    Check out the video and let me know what you think. http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=Q3drI4yyiVw#!

    • AppleFUD

      I think you are correct. He’s talking about getting a new device on their network with the newest version of Android before anyone else, and most likely having that device or version of the OS as an exclusive for a period of time.

      As far as updating devices already in the wild. . . well, we know it has mostly to do with the US carriers. All we have to do is look to Europe and we see they generally get updates a lot faster than those of us in the states. Therefore, that eliminates Google and the OEMs and leaves only the carriers to blame.

      • NasLAU

        We have to go GSM across the board. Or more realistically, compatible LTE networks. EU customers can take their handsets to whatever provider they want (barring any exclusivity periods) thus the competition is based more on price and service.

        • AppleFUD

          Well, we need the FCC to do what they are supposed to do for the American citizens, not the carriers. However, every time they try to do something Congress jumps on them with both feet – it’s clear who congress is supporting and it isn’t the people that vote.

          If the US congress wasn’t in the back pocked of every corporation I’m certain the FCC would have already mandated equal and fair access for all devices on all carries, and they most likely would have mandated a standard across the board for all carriers, GSM. . . as you state.

  • mrkrstphr

    Is this the same AT&T exec who stated they should have never given the iPhone unlimited data? Sounds like somebody is trolling…

  • bleacherbums

    Google has nothing to do with it …. its the carriers and manufacturerers responsibility to update their phones and make sure that there ” useless bloatwares” is working smoothly on those updates ( ICS 4.03 – 4.04 ).

  • squiddy20

    The “Update Alliance” would have fixed at least some of this BS, but we haven’t heard one word on the status of that since Google I/O 2011 when it first announced…

  • EdMcGraw

    All Google Nexus phones updated to Ice Cream, Really? Then why is my AT&T Nexus S, 2.3.4 phone still running Gingerbread? I’m still waiting for my Ice Cream update.

  • Vance

    Maybe the fact that your company didn’t give two shits about Android during the years in which you held your iPhone exclusive has left you severely behind the curve, Mr Stephenson. While other carriers were no doubt automating their internal development and testing protocols for Android OS you were basking in your bowl of low hanging fruit, and now the weakness of your android offering is being exposed for all to see. You’re either being ignorant or deceitful; either way, shame on you

  • MakeItNasty

    I worked for T-Mobile as a product dev for almost 3 years. I understand and have been part of this fiasco many times. Google does release the open source software and its up to the Carriers and OEMS to fight about how the software should work and run. I remember the time when the T-Mobile MyTouch Slide was first going in for the FROYO update , how many revisions and testing phases that device went through. The amount of bloatware that was added was ridiculous … Needless to say, T-mobile caused the delay over and over and over again. It took almost 6 months of testing to get the Froyo update and it was still a hack job. IF google should be responsible for anything, it should be the fact that they should set a hard deadline as to how long it should take an OEM/Carrier to develop software and bloatware for said devices. If it cant make the lauch date then it gets pushed out as an optional AOSP update to the latest software which ive seen done a few times.

  • Richard Ahlquist

    Is anyone really surprised by this? One of the problems with Android and its fragmentation though is not just the carriers but how the hardware is handled. The way its been explained to me is like this; with a pc you can build it from off the shelf parts and the hardware vendors provided you with drivers for your OS. With android your handset has different chips with different drivers in it. The Carrier and/or the hardware manuf pay the chip makers for these drivers. When a new OS comes out like say going from GB to ICS these drivers also typically need a refresh, this costs money yet again. Spending money for already sold devices isnt profitable. Why they dont let the end user pay the fees if they want I dont know.

    • Droidfan

      The Android 4.0 general update pattern will probably hit in the July/August 2012 time frame…approximately 12 months after the general release of Gingerbread. That’s roughly one year. More or less the same as an iPhone. WTF

  • Joel

    It wasn’t very well worded, but I think the ATT exec’s argument has to do with the arrangement Google makes with Nexus device partners prior to a new Android release. Google makes a deal with a manufacturer to release a Nexus device built to Google’s specifications. They work closely with this partner to ensure the new OS version functions as intended on that specific device. Upon release of this device, Google releases the source code into the wild, at which point Google’s chosen partner has been given a 5 to 6 month head start on the new OS.

    The argument is that the other handset competitors and carriers make this head start situation much worse because they want to layer all of their own “optimizations” and add-ons on to the core OS. This is mostly true, but there is also the fact that hardware specifications can vary wildly, and what works for the Nexus device may not work for another device running a different SOC, screen type, etc etc. Google does give preferential treatment to their launch partners in that sense.

    If the other makers released a device with the exact same hardware specifications, and just the core OS, this time to market deficit would be pretty small. In reality, the Android world doesn’t operate this way. Google should make a public offer to assist any handset maker that wants to launch a device on release day for a new OS, but it must be built to Google’s hardware specifications, and only include the core OS. In effect it would be the Nexus treatment for all. I’m guessing you will not see many takers. The Nexus devices are only begrudgingly supported by the carriers. We all know Verizon made a huge push for the Droid Razr, and doesn’t have more than a passing acceptance of the Galaxy Nexus. In fact it might be argued that they have actively hampered the device in order to give their preferred devices more of a leg up.

    • mmalakai10

      ok i can agree here on what ur saying. there is a wild amount of different hardware out there and it causes alot of envy toward google and the carriers granted. carrier also have something to do with the updating process too. they hold updates so other phones can release and old phones can seem outdated so customers can go buy the new one instead of just updating the old one. also lets look at the nexus phone on the verizon network. i currently switch carriers to get this device and im happy becuz the service has been great so far. the updating the nexus device has been a no show since was released. what is taking Verizon so long to get this update to its customers who own this device? now this is a nexus device the source code has been out for months for this phone but verizon keep this phone under have lock and key until they are ready and feel they sold all other devices first before updating the nexus phone. so it goes hand and hand carriers are as much to blame and everyone included with dealing with this device.

  • Jorge Eslava

    Look at phones in other countries that get updated sooner, the only difference is that the carriers have nothing to do with the updates in other countries.

    • mmalakai10

      thank u i totally agree. carriers always want to put there 2 cent in everything dealing with the mobile devices. they need to stay in there place and just continue to offer an enhance calling, texting and internet experience that all.

  • skugern

    I think that Mr. Stephenson should stop talking about things he doesn’t understand…

  • seabass978

    Can’t blame Google for the slow manufacture and carriers update.

  • http://www.jaxidian.org/update/ jaxidian

    Android: AT&T has slow/non-existent updates (even though Google gave them the source code half a year ago).
    WP7: AT&T has slow/non-existent updates (even though you can get the update from other carriers on your AT&T phones if you know how and they work perfectly).

    So far, AT&T is batting 0/2. How exactly is Google at fault here? THEY PROVIDE THE FRICKEN SOURCE CODE!

  • Mike

    OK, AT&T remove all the restrictions and Google will take over where you dropped the ball…

  • aranea

    Just look at how fast and relatively bug free custom roms arrive from community vs how long it takes manufacturers and carriers add their mostly disliked if not hated stuff onto Android. Then it’s obvious that Google is not to blame here.

    On the other hand, Google may try to enforce manufacturers and carriers to be faster and to contaminate Android less.

  • mmalakai10

    this is the reason Google made the nexus branding which is now tainted by carrier last call on what this nexus brand should and shouldnt have (sprint and Verizon) as updates with features (hotspot and tethering). like the htc nexus one which was released with t-mobile and at&t radios to work on there network which was a success. sprint and Verizon should do the same and let them make a phone that has there radios and let the nexus truly be free. to much carrier control where its not needed. to much bloatware where its not wanted, that’s why we have Google play store for. i am fully capable of installing a app to my device myself thank u. carriers shouldn’t even have a final say in something they have no real knowledge of when it comes to updates. most of the time ppl don’t understand how there phone work an the 1st thing they tell u is have u master reset ur phone. c’mon are u serious, let our devices be free from carrier last word on something that doesn’t concern them. all they do is provide calling, texting and internet for our devices they need to stay in there place.

  • mercado79

    There was a time a few years ago when core Google apps like Gmail (and maybe Youtube?) could only be updated as part of a system-wide OS update. Google did the right thing and separated those core apps from the rest of the OS so we didn’t have to wait for the carrier or even the OEM manufacturer.

    This is EXACTLY what needs to happen for system level changes. Google should isolate / compartmentalize system files from the higher level APIs (specifically GUI theming and widgets like those used in Sense or TouchWiz). “Here’s what you can touch. Here’s what we can touch/update”.

    If this is possible, it’d solve a lot of issues.

    • drksilenc

      actually that is what alot of ics is. as time has went on more and more parts of the os can be upgraded. Thats why the fragment api is nice.

    • Ichigo

      That is very smart and true.

  • mercado79

    There was a time a few years ago when core Google apps like Gmail (and maybe Youtube?) could only be updated as part of a system-wide OS update. Google did the right thing and separated those core apps from the rest of the OS so we didn’t have to wait for the carrier or even the OEM manufacturer.

    This is EXACTLY what needs to happen for system level changes. Google should isolate / compartmentalize system files from the higher level APIs (specifically GUI theming and widgets like those used in Sense or TouchWiz). “Here’s what you can touch. Here’s what we can touch/update”.

    If this is possible, it’d solve a lot of issues.

  • http://mihai.discuta-liber.com/ tmihai20

    I think AT&T CEO wanted to say something else, maybe regarding the AT&T HTC One X that won’t get the unlocked bootloader. They surely got it wrong, Google just gave them the standard and expected response. I hope they didn’t expect to come out on top here.

  • Paul Atreides

    It’s Google’s fault mainly but everyone’s hands needs to be slapped.. The update process should have never been this way from the beginning of Android. They created this monster and allowed Carriers/OEMs to feed the beast. They may have to kill it off and create a whole new system for updating Android.

  • Narayan

    It is annoying. No one from Google, Samsung or AT&T has the …. to confirm when will AT&T version of Nexus S will gets its ICS. Shame on them will some other devices are already on it.

  • uknowme

    I just wish all manufacturers would release the phones with vanilla Android. Then they could have launchers for everything else. I mean I have no problem with Sense, but I don’t like touchwiz or motoblur. There are small things I do like about all 3 though. If this were to happen then all handsets could be updated in a reasonable time.

  • Max.Steel

    I wonder how much he was paid to say this crap. Using the words AT&T and integrity in the same sentence is like using Sarah Palin and intelligent together in one. It only works if you are using them as examples of polar opposites.

  • Ichigo

    Blame the FU***nG carriers. Especially in the united states where they want to control everything. That’s why phones like the galaxy s 2 were released several months after. OEMs and google are fine. If only the carrier would stop their crap, android updates will be much easier to control as google would put pressure on the OEMS to update their devices. But if you first do google, then oems, then carries it is a pain in the butt. Blame AT&T!!!!

  • Ichigo

    Another thing, look at the AT&T htc one x bootloader. Who do you think is responsible? AT&T!!!! Again the carriers want to control everything.

  • MoSDeeb

    This is not surprising coming from AT&T…

  • riceman

    makes sense, AT&T is always last in Android market share and they are the second biggest carrier in the US. I wouldn’t expect a CEO to have a ton of technical knowledge, but I would expect them to understand the general life cycle of their main products. Pretty pathetic.

  • Alan

    Do I have the only verizon samsung galaxy nexus that is still at 4.02?

    • Gregg Edghill

      Nope you are not the only one with galaxy nexus on verizon not at 4.0.4. I have not rooted my device so the stock version is still at 4.0.2. They mentioned an update but i have not seen the ota update yet. Verizon really does sucks. I just wanted to have the stock experience with the gnex. I should have purchased the gsm version. Google really needs to tell these carriers that their bloatware should be available only in android market not preinstalled on phones to help the update process go smoother. That includes any UI customization. Apple does not put up with this sh_t ..why should google and its users. I should be able to go download the update directly from google.

      • Alan

        Thanks for the info Gregg. Agree with all you said but do not understand how gms would make a difference.

  • kungpaodragon

    To be frank, some people clearly have no idea how the software ecosystem works. Why is it Google’s fault at all? Google puts out a pristine build of a new version of software and pushes it to phones that are compatible (Nexus) and it’s done. Handset makers / carriers are the ones that decide to take that same update and customize it to their liking and then push them to their phones. This is clearly AT&T’s CEO throwing Google under the bus. Not surprised, really, given their reputation.

    And why should Google have to work with handset makers? This is an open source project. If you want the untainted build, get a Nexus. Show the carriers and handset makers how much you hate their custom ROM. Don’t get a phone with AT&T’s crap on it and then complain about Google when it is AT&T that screwed with the build. Or go get an iPhone that runs iOS, which is closely controlled by Apple.

  • Raptor

    this is a site of Updaters and Uptodaters and Bugfixers — by definition — a morons with infinite free time. To be completely happy they need
    – well, an update of course. The first update is like a sweets -ice cream or cookies – during the breakfast, then after lunch and finally just before they go sleep to make them think they’ve done something useful today.
    – cool new app or an update for old one
    – new rumor on coming update of OS or hardware.

    Poor old dumb annoying update.microsoft.com…Balmer, you have to learn how to sell shit or resign.

  • Droidfan

    AT&T has been pretty lukewarm in its Android commitment from the beginning. Lets face it iPhone still drives their ship. But this move isn’t going to help AT&T in the long run.

  • Moises Rivera

    I am personally on AT&T and i can honestly say i hate it, especially when it comes to android device selection. They aren’t very good when it comes to customer support, and obviously ignorant to the world of android, so I’m gonna take the next chance to get off this company and move to a much better one.

  • Y.

    Ok, so I have an honest question:

    I have a SIM-free Google Galaxy Nexus.

    I now use a Vodafone SIM card in the UK.

    How do I update my phone?

    Via my settings, there’s nothing.

    Manually? The supposedly error-free 4.0.4 update seems to create signal-issues on my phone.

    Neither Google, Samsung nor Vodafone can give me a straight answer.

    I ditched Apple and I’m happy. But there seem to be some straightening-up to do on the Android platform.

    In the meantime, my question remains.

    Also where can I know when I’ll get an update?

    Anyone?

  • Gregg

    GSM version is world wide. Therefore no middleman (aka verizon) to stop or process updates before the users get them. The update is pushed straight from google to the phone.

  • Y.

    So I guess Google pushes it OTA or?

    And how come I didn’t get 4.0.4 following its release since I have the SIM-free GSM GNex? (Luckily actually since I avoided the signal issues.)

  • Neetu

    Treat for All Shoppers-MintM for Android and BlackBerry

    I’ve been a fan of the MintM Mobile Application.. It is a loyalty based reward system which rewards points even for window shopping and can redeem these points in big and fancy outlets.. Awesome app.. Just reviewed this app.. thought of sharing it with you people..
    its free downloadable from

    http://www.mintmapp.com/smartphone

    Works best in android and Blackberry.. Enjoy :)

  • Neetu

    Treat for All Shoppers-MintM for Android and BlackBerry

    I’ve been a fan of the MintM Mobile Application.. It is a loyalty based reward system which rewards points even for window shopping and can redeem these points in big and fancy outlets.. Awesome app.. Just reviewed this app.. thought of sharing it with you people..
    its free downloadable from

    http://www.mintmapp.com/smartphone

    Works best in android and Blackberry.. Enjoy :)

  • JessSayin

    I didn’t get the ICS update on my Nexus S 4G for months while other devices WITH carrier bloatware did. That wasn’t Sprint’s fault. “..fastest updates directly from Google.” my ass!

  • Tony Vahl

    It’s July 2nd, and my AT&T Nexus S is still running 2.3.4, with no ICS update alert. “System up-to-date.” So, getting a Nexus phone does NOT solve the update issue with Android phones. Time to try a manual update.

  • Unsatisfied Android user

    I spent an hour on the phone today in an effort to find out when my Nexus S (AT&T) would get an OS update from 2.3.4. I figured it’s a fair question, since Google is advertising Jellybean release (4.1) for the Nexus S on Twitter. I started with AT&T. The phone rep was pleasant, but she could not give me any information. She spent some effort looking through her manuals, but the manual that she was working from indicated that I should be seeing information that is not in the screens on my phone. She ran across the line in her documentation that said AT&T does not support the Nexus S and referred me to the 866 number that she had for phone support and it turned out to be Best Buy (the retailer who sold me the phone). The very pleasant Indian woman who spoke to me did not understand that the Nexus S was a cell phone at first and referred me to someone to talk to me about an upgrade. I explained to the next very pleasant woman that I was not after a phone upgrade, but information about if and/or when I might expect an OS update. She looked through her data and then gave me a couple of 800 numbers for Samsung. The very pleasant Samsung representative explained to me that according to her data, the Nexus S is not in line for an OS update.

    I used an iPhone 3G for a number of years prior to this phone. I never worried OS updates. Eventually the hardware was no longer supported by the OS updates. I decided to give the Nexus S a go, because it was supposed to be the Google flagship device, and advertised to be first in line for OS updates.

    So Google issues press releases that 4.1 is being released for the Nexus S through some carriers, Samsung says the Nexus S is not getting an upgrade, and AT&T has no clue and would like me to let them know what I can find out.

    Yes, I could go out and find the ROM’s to update the phone, but when I pay for the flagship product that is advertised to get the OS updates, I expect the vendors to stand behind their hype. With my iPhone, I only had to click the icon accepting the OS update. I have to fall back on one of my favorite quotes, “Never assume malice where incompetence will suffice.” Google? Samsung? AT&T? If there is one of you who has a commitment to your product and end-user, I’m ready to be pleasantly surprised.

    Anyone debating between Android and iOS should go with iOS. Android is a hobby shop. iOS is a product.

  1. Hidden due to low comment rating. Click here to see.

    • Reading comprehension? Google makes update. Google pushes said update to source.android.com. Manufacturers customize the update. Carriers add bloatware and “test” update. How would you propose that Google does anything more than it set out to do, which only encompasses the first two steps I outlined above?

      • Google needs to work closer with OEMs and component makers to update the drivers. That’s the main issue which is holding updates back. I don’t buy Motorola’s excuse about bloatware and skins holding back updates since HTC pushed out its first updates to ICS with a custom skin and carrier bloatware before Google was able to get it working properly on the Nexus S.

        • Not to defend Google as they did messed up on the OTA update for Nexus S for regular consumers, but the full 4.0.3 rom was ready on their server and on my Nexus S 1 week after Galaxy Nexus drop.

        • Do you expect Google to pick favorites (specific carriers/manufacturers/mobile devices), or work with every new mobile device that comes out?

          Your suggestion is unrealistic. I haven’t seen drivers mentioned as a reason for slow updates by a single manufacturer.

        • JessSayinGuest 3 years ago

          Agree although I still don’t have ICS on my HTC Amaze 4G that came out last October. (I know, I know, It’s coming in a month.)
          Also, Why did it take Google 4 months to get ICS on my Nexus S 4G with Sprint when it was being released on other devices that were not pure Google devices.
          “First to receive updates” my ass!

          • The Nexus devices is the only only phones that I would hold Google accountable. I updated mine with a link from XDA. Sucks that CDMA devices are no longer “developer” phones. Thems the breaks, which sucks for people on CDMA networks.

      • I wasn’t clear – my fault. Google needs to bring everyone together and work very closely with them to make this more timely – not just put the update out there and say we are done. They are the only ones that have their hand in with all carriers and all manufacturers…

        • Derek R-CGuest 3 years ago

          Disagree. Right now Google stands away from the blame. it wouldn’t be smart from a business stand point if those meetings went bad (as they surely would)

          Here is how the meetings go in mind:
          Google: Ok we will release the new OS on this date. Hardware you need to update in this much time and carrier you need to update in this much time.

          Hardware and Carriers: But that doesn’t give us enough time to put our sh*t in there that no one wants but we somehow think keeps the users coming back to our product.

          Google: I guess you have to put in less sh*t

          Hardware and Carriers: No

          Now they are in a deadlock and it makes google look bad for not getting it worked out when it is clearly the hardware and carriers fault when they put in so much bloatware and UI changes.

    • JoshuaGuest 3 years ago

      They can’t just push out updates, because it’s not possible to build one master image. The arm hardware platform isn’t standardized like the x86 hardware platform, as a result the source code HAS to be modified to work on the various chipsets and hardware differences. The only way Google could speed up the process would be to either dictate a hardware spec (like MS does for Windows Phone) or require vanilla android for access to the market, problem is either of these would slow down innovation (for the sake of timely updates/”better” user experience) and flies in the face of the open source philosophy, not to mention might make the carriers and OEM’s jump ship or go the Amazon route and make (or at least try) their own ecosystem, which would make fragmentation a hundred times worse (and you think its bad now)

      • DavidGuest 3 years ago

        Finally someone understands open source development and its drawbacks, which is the disadvantage of dictating hardware platforms just to speed up things for a given company. I prefer the way it is, and if i don’t like what others are doing, I choose Nexus.

        People don’t seem to understand that in this open source Android world, we customers also have the word on how things go: by buying, naturally selecting products. Which is the opposite of what Microsoft and Apple are doing. They choose for us.

    • I think Google and OEM manufactures should have two version of every phone. The one that goes to carrier and another one (same phone) that customers can buy directly from manufactures so that we don’t have to always seat and wait for carriers when it comes time for updates. It’s clear they are they bottleneck. It might help push carries to work a little harder and drive more competition.

    • Please read and investigate before speaking out. It clearly states that google updates the phones accordingly and then lets manufacturers and carriers do what they want to get out the udpates to their specific phones. At this point its not google’s fault that verizon is taking a year to release their version of the update and att is… oh wait att doesn’t do a thing that helps the consumer.

    • When you say Google needs to take ownership and fix it, I think what you’re saying is that Google needs to be more 1 on 1 with the OEMs and carriers rather than simply posting a link for the update and being done with it, in which case I agree with you.

    • Google needs to put the carriers and manufacturers in the hotseat.

  2. I think he simply didn’t understand the question. I believe Stephenson’s comment about “negotiated arrangement” was more about launching a Nexus device than updating handsets to the latest version of Android.

    Check out the video and let me know what you think. http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=Q3drI4yyiVw#!

    • AppleFUDGuest 3 years ago

      I think you are correct. He’s talking about getting a new device on their network with the newest version of Android before anyone else, and most likely having that device or version of the OS as an exclusive for a period of time.

      As far as updating devices already in the wild. . . well, we know it has mostly to do with the US carriers. All we have to do is look to Europe and we see they generally get updates a lot faster than those of us in the states. Therefore, that eliminates Google and the OEMs and leaves only the carriers to blame.

      • We have to go GSM across the board. Or more realistically, compatible LTE networks. EU customers can take their handsets to whatever provider they want (barring any exclusivity periods) thus the competition is based more on price and service.

        • AppleFUDGuest 3 years ago

          Well, we need the FCC to do what they are supposed to do for the American citizens, not the carriers. However, every time they try to do something Congress jumps on them with both feet – it’s clear who congress is supporting and it isn’t the people that vote.

          If the US congress wasn’t in the back pocked of every corporation I’m certain the FCC would have already mandated equal and fair access for all devices on all carries, and they most likely would have mandated a standard across the board for all carriers, GSM. . . as you state.

  3. Is this the same AT&T exec who stated they should have never given the iPhone unlimited data? Sounds like somebody is trolling…

  4. bleacherbumsGuest 3 years ago

    Google has nothing to do with it …. its the carriers and manufacturerers responsibility to update their phones and make sure that there ” useless bloatwares” is working smoothly on those updates ( ICS 4.03 – 4.04 ).

  5. squiddy20Guest 3 years ago

    The “Update Alliance” would have fixed at least some of this BS, but we haven’t heard one word on the status of that since Google I/O 2011 when it first announced…

  6. EdMcGrawGuest 3 years ago

    All Google Nexus phones updated to Ice Cream, Really? Then why is my AT&T Nexus S, 2.3.4 phone still running Gingerbread? I’m still waiting for my Ice Cream update.

  7. Maybe the fact that your company didn’t give two shits about Android during the years in which you held your iPhone exclusive has left you severely behind the curve, Mr Stephenson. While other carriers were no doubt automating their internal development and testing protocols for Android OS you were basking in your bowl of low hanging fruit, and now the weakness of your android offering is being exposed for all to see. You’re either being ignorant or deceitful; either way, shame on you

  8. MakeItNastyGuest 3 years ago

    I worked for T-Mobile as a product dev for almost 3 years. I understand and have been part of this fiasco many times. Google does release the open source software and its up to the Carriers and OEMS to fight about how the software should work and run. I remember the time when the T-Mobile MyTouch Slide was first going in for the FROYO update , how many revisions and testing phases that device went through. The amount of bloatware that was added was ridiculous … Needless to say, T-mobile caused the delay over and over and over again. It took almost 6 months of testing to get the Froyo update and it was still a hack job. IF google should be responsible for anything, it should be the fact that they should set a hard deadline as to how long it should take an OEM/Carrier to develop software and bloatware for said devices. If it cant make the lauch date then it gets pushed out as an optional AOSP update to the latest software which ive seen done a few times.

  9. Richard AhlquistGuest 3 years ago

    Is anyone really surprised by this? One of the problems with Android and its fragmentation though is not just the carriers but how the hardware is handled. The way its been explained to me is like this; with a pc you can build it from off the shelf parts and the hardware vendors provided you with drivers for your OS. With android your handset has different chips with different drivers in it. The Carrier and/or the hardware manuf pay the chip makers for these drivers. When a new OS comes out like say going from GB to ICS these drivers also typically need a refresh, this costs money yet again. Spending money for already sold devices isnt profitable. Why they dont let the end user pay the fees if they want I dont know.

    • DroidfanGuest 3 years ago

      The Android 4.0 general update pattern will probably hit in the July/August 2012 time frame…approximately 12 months after the general release of Gingerbread. That’s roughly one year. More or less the same as an iPhone. WTF

  10. JoelGuest 3 years ago

    It wasn’t very well worded, but I think the ATT exec’s argument has to do with the arrangement Google makes with Nexus device partners prior to a new Android release. Google makes a deal with a manufacturer to release a Nexus device built to Google’s specifications. They work closely with this partner to ensure the new OS version functions as intended on that specific device. Upon release of this device, Google releases the source code into the wild, at which point Google’s chosen partner has been given a 5 to 6 month head start on the new OS.

    The argument is that the other handset competitors and carriers make this head start situation much worse because they want to layer all of their own “optimizations” and add-ons on to the core OS. This is mostly true, but there is also the fact that hardware specifications can vary wildly, and what works for the Nexus device may not work for another device running a different SOC, screen type, etc etc. Google does give preferential treatment to their launch partners in that sense.

    If the other makers released a device with the exact same hardware specifications, and just the core OS, this time to market deficit would be pretty small. In reality, the Android world doesn’t operate this way. Google should make a public offer to assist any handset maker that wants to launch a device on release day for a new OS, but it must be built to Google’s hardware specifications, and only include the core OS. In effect it would be the Nexus treatment for all. I’m guessing you will not see many takers. The Nexus devices are only begrudgingly supported by the carriers. We all know Verizon made a huge push for the Droid Razr, and doesn’t have more than a passing acceptance of the Galaxy Nexus. In fact it might be argued that they have actively hampered the device in order to give their preferred devices more of a leg up.

    • mmalakai10Guest 3 years ago

      ok i can agree here on what ur saying. there is a wild amount of different hardware out there and it causes alot of envy toward google and the carriers granted. carrier also have something to do with the updating process too. they hold updates so other phones can release and old phones can seem outdated so customers can go buy the new one instead of just updating the old one. also lets look at the nexus phone on the verizon network. i currently switch carriers to get this device and im happy becuz the service has been great so far. the updating the nexus device has been a no show since was released. what is taking Verizon so long to get this update to its customers who own this device? now this is a nexus device the source code has been out for months for this phone but verizon keep this phone under have lock and key until they are ready and feel they sold all other devices first before updating the nexus phone. so it goes hand and hand carriers are as much to blame and everyone included with dealing with this device.

  11. Look at phones in other countries that get updated sooner, the only difference is that the carriers have nothing to do with the updates in other countries.

    • mmalakai10Guest 3 years ago

      thank u i totally agree. carriers always want to put there 2 cent in everything dealing with the mobile devices. they need to stay in there place and just continue to offer an enhance calling, texting and internet experience that all.

  12. I think that Mr. Stephenson should stop talking about things he doesn’t understand…

  13. Can’t blame Google for the slow manufacture and carriers update.

  14. Android: AT&T has slow/non-existent updates (even though Google gave them the source code half a year ago).
    WP7: AT&T has slow/non-existent updates (even though you can get the update from other carriers on your AT&T phones if you know how and they work perfectly).

    So far, AT&T is batting 0/2. How exactly is Google at fault here? THEY PROVIDE THE FRICKEN SOURCE CODE!

  15. MikeGuest 3 years ago

    OK, AT&T remove all the restrictions and Google will take over where you dropped the ball…

  16. Just look at how fast and relatively bug free custom roms arrive from community vs how long it takes manufacturers and carriers add their mostly disliked if not hated stuff onto Android. Then it’s obvious that Google is not to blame here.

    On the other hand, Google may try to enforce manufacturers and carriers to be faster and to contaminate Android less.

  17. mmalakai10Guest 3 years ago

    this is the reason Google made the nexus branding which is now tainted by carrier last call on what this nexus brand should and shouldnt have (sprint and Verizon) as updates with features (hotspot and tethering). like the htc nexus one which was released with t-mobile and at&t radios to work on there network which was a success. sprint and Verizon should do the same and let them make a phone that has there radios and let the nexus truly be free. to much carrier control where its not needed. to much bloatware where its not wanted, that’s why we have Google play store for. i am fully capable of installing a app to my device myself thank u. carriers shouldn’t even have a final say in something they have no real knowledge of when it comes to updates. most of the time ppl don’t understand how there phone work an the 1st thing they tell u is have u master reset ur phone. c’mon are u serious, let our devices be free from carrier last word on something that doesn’t concern them. all they do is provide calling, texting and internet for our devices they need to stay in there place.

  18. mercado79Guest 3 years ago

    There was a time a few years ago when core Google apps like Gmail (and maybe Youtube?) could only be updated as part of a system-wide OS update. Google did the right thing and separated those core apps from the rest of the OS so we didn’t have to wait for the carrier or even the OEM manufacturer.

    This is EXACTLY what needs to happen for system level changes. Google should isolate / compartmentalize system files from the higher level APIs (specifically GUI theming and widgets like those used in Sense or TouchWiz). “Here’s what you can touch. Here’s what we can touch/update”.

    If this is possible, it’d solve a lot of issues.

  19. There was a time a few years ago when core Google apps like Gmail (and maybe Youtube?) could only be updated as part of a system-wide OS update. Google did the right thing and separated those core apps from the rest of the OS so we didn’t have to wait for the carrier or even the OEM manufacturer.

    This is EXACTLY what needs to happen for system level changes. Google should isolate / compartmentalize system files from the higher level APIs (specifically GUI theming and widgets like those used in Sense or TouchWiz). “Here’s what you can touch. Here’s what we can touch/update”.

    If this is possible, it’d solve a lot of issues.

  20. I think AT&T CEO wanted to say something else, maybe regarding the AT&T HTC One X that won’t get the unlocked bootloader. They surely got it wrong, Google just gave them the standard and expected response. I hope they didn’t expect to come out on top here.

  21. Paul AtreidesGuest 3 years ago

    It’s Google’s fault mainly but everyone’s hands needs to be slapped.. The update process should have never been this way from the beginning of Android. They created this monster and allowed Carriers/OEMs to feed the beast. They may have to kill it off and create a whole new system for updating Android.

  22. NarayanGuest 3 years ago

    It is annoying. No one from Google, Samsung or AT&T has the …. to confirm when will AT&T version of Nexus S will gets its ICS. Shame on them will some other devices are already on it.

  23. I just wish all manufacturers would release the phones with vanilla Android. Then they could have launchers for everything else. I mean I have no problem with Sense, but I don’t like touchwiz or motoblur. There are small things I do like about all 3 though. If this were to happen then all handsets could be updated in a reasonable time.

  24. I wonder how much he was paid to say this crap. Using the words AT&T and integrity in the same sentence is like using Sarah Palin and intelligent together in one. It only works if you are using them as examples of polar opposites.

  25. IchigoGuest 3 years ago

    Blame the FU***nG carriers. Especially in the united states where they want to control everything. That’s why phones like the galaxy s 2 were released several months after. OEMs and google are fine. If only the carrier would stop their crap, android updates will be much easier to control as google would put pressure on the OEMS to update their devices. But if you first do google, then oems, then carries it is a pain in the butt. Blame AT&T!!!!

  26. IchigoGuest 3 years ago

    Another thing, look at the AT&T htc one x bootloader. Who do you think is responsible? AT&T!!!! Again the carriers want to control everything.

  27. This is not surprising coming from AT&T…

  28. ricemanGuest 3 years ago

    makes sense, AT&T is always last in Android market share and they are the second biggest carrier in the US. I wouldn’t expect a CEO to have a ton of technical knowledge, but I would expect them to understand the general life cycle of their main products. Pretty pathetic.

  29. AlanGuest 3 years ago

    Do I have the only verizon samsung galaxy nexus that is still at 4.02?

    • Gregg EdghillGuest 3 years ago

      Nope you are not the only one with galaxy nexus on verizon not at 4.0.4. I have not rooted my device so the stock version is still at 4.0.2. They mentioned an update but i have not seen the ota update yet. Verizon really does sucks. I just wanted to have the stock experience with the gnex. I should have purchased the gsm version. Google really needs to tell these carriers that their bloatware should be available only in android market not preinstalled on phones to help the update process go smoother. That includes any UI customization. Apple does not put up with this sh_t ..why should google and its users. I should be able to go download the update directly from google.

      • AlanGuest 3 years ago

        Thanks for the info Gregg. Agree with all you said but do not understand how gms would make a difference.

  30. To be frank, some people clearly have no idea how the software ecosystem works. Why is it Google’s fault at all? Google puts out a pristine build of a new version of software and pushes it to phones that are compatible (Nexus) and it’s done. Handset makers / carriers are the ones that decide to take that same update and customize it to their liking and then push them to their phones. This is clearly AT&T’s CEO throwing Google under the bus. Not surprised, really, given their reputation.

    And why should Google have to work with handset makers? This is an open source project. If you want the untainted build, get a Nexus. Show the carriers and handset makers how much you hate their custom ROM. Don’t get a phone with AT&T’s crap on it and then complain about Google when it is AT&T that screwed with the build. Or go get an iPhone that runs iOS, which is closely controlled by Apple.

  31. RaptorGuest 3 years ago

    this is a site of Updaters and Uptodaters and Bugfixers — by definition — a morons with infinite free time. To be completely happy they need
    – well, an update of course. The first update is like a sweets -ice cream or cookies – during the breakfast, then after lunch and finally just before they go sleep to make them think they’ve done something useful today.
    – cool new app or an update for old one
    – new rumor on coming update of OS or hardware.

    Poor old dumb annoying update.microsoft.com…Balmer, you have to learn how to sell shit or resign.

  32. DroidfanGuest 3 years ago

    AT&T has been pretty lukewarm in its Android commitment from the beginning. Lets face it iPhone still drives their ship. But this move isn’t going to help AT&T in the long run.

  33. I am personally on AT&T and i can honestly say i hate it, especially when it comes to android device selection. They aren’t very good when it comes to customer support, and obviously ignorant to the world of android, so I’m gonna take the next chance to get off this company and move to a much better one.

  34. Y.Guest 3 years ago

    Ok, so I have an honest question:

    I have a SIM-free Google Galaxy Nexus.

    I now use a Vodafone SIM card in the UK.

    How do I update my phone?

    Via my settings, there’s nothing.

    Manually? The supposedly error-free 4.0.4 update seems to create signal-issues on my phone.

    Neither Google, Samsung nor Vodafone can give me a straight answer.

    I ditched Apple and I’m happy. But there seem to be some straightening-up to do on the Android platform.

    In the meantime, my question remains.

    Also where can I know when I’ll get an update?

    Anyone?

  35. GreggGuest 3 years ago

    GSM version is world wide. Therefore no middleman (aka verizon) to stop or process updates before the users get them. The update is pushed straight from google to the phone.

  36. Y.Guest 3 years ago

    So I guess Google pushes it OTA or?

    And how come I didn’t get 4.0.4 following its release since I have the SIM-free GSM GNex? (Luckily actually since I avoided the signal issues.)

  37. NeetuGuest 3 years ago

    Treat for All Shoppers-MintM for Android and BlackBerry

    I’ve been a fan of the MintM Mobile Application.. It is a loyalty based reward system which rewards points even for window shopping and can redeem these points in big and fancy outlets.. Awesome app.. Just reviewed this app.. thought of sharing it with you people..
    its free downloadable from

    http://www.mintmapp.com/smartphone

    Works best in android and Blackberry.. Enjoy :)

  38. NeetuGuest 3 years ago

    Treat for All Shoppers-MintM for Android and BlackBerry

    I’ve been a fan of the MintM Mobile Application.. It is a loyalty based reward system which rewards points even for window shopping and can redeem these points in big and fancy outlets.. Awesome app.. Just reviewed this app.. thought of sharing it with you people..
    its free downloadable from

    http://www.mintmapp.com/smartphone

    Works best in android and Blackberry.. Enjoy :)

  39. JessSayinGuest 3 years ago

    I didn’t get the ICS update on my Nexus S 4G for months while other devices WITH carrier bloatware did. That wasn’t Sprint’s fault. “..fastest updates directly from Google.” my ass!

  40. Tony VahlGuest 3 years ago

    It’s July 2nd, and my AT&T Nexus S is still running 2.3.4, with no ICS update alert. “System up-to-date.” So, getting a Nexus phone does NOT solve the update issue with Android phones. Time to try a manual update.

  41. Unsatisfied Android userGuest 3 years ago

    I spent an hour on the phone today in an effort to find out when my Nexus S (AT&T) would get an OS update from 2.3.4. I figured it’s a fair question, since Google is advertising Jellybean release (4.1) for the Nexus S on Twitter. I started with AT&T. The phone rep was pleasant, but she could not give me any information. She spent some effort looking through her manuals, but the manual that she was working from indicated that I should be seeing information that is not in the screens on my phone. She ran across the line in her documentation that said AT&T does not support the Nexus S and referred me to the 866 number that she had for phone support and it turned out to be Best Buy (the retailer who sold me the phone). The very pleasant Indian woman who spoke to me did not understand that the Nexus S was a cell phone at first and referred me to someone to talk to me about an upgrade. I explained to the next very pleasant woman that I was not after a phone upgrade, but information about if and/or when I might expect an OS update. She looked through her data and then gave me a couple of 800 numbers for Samsung. The very pleasant Samsung representative explained to me that according to her data, the Nexus S is not in line for an OS update.

    I used an iPhone 3G for a number of years prior to this phone. I never worried OS updates. Eventually the hardware was no longer supported by the OS updates. I decided to give the Nexus S a go, because it was supposed to be the Google flagship device, and advertised to be first in line for OS updates.

    So Google issues press releases that 4.1 is being released for the Nexus S through some carriers, Samsung says the Nexus S is not getting an upgrade, and AT&T has no clue and would like me to let them know what I can find out.

    Yes, I could go out and find the ROM’s to update the phone, but when I pay for the flagship product that is advertised to get the OS updates, I expect the vendors to stand behind their hype. With my iPhone, I only had to click the icon accepting the OS update. I have to fall back on one of my favorite quotes, “Never assume malice where incompetence will suffice.” Google? Samsung? AT&T? If there is one of you who has a commitment to your product and end-user, I’m ready to be pleasantly surprised.

    Anyone debating between Android and iOS should go with iOS. Android is a hobby shop. iOS is a product.