Dec 20 AT 2:39 PM Anthony Domanico 107 Comments

Has the Android Update Alliance failed before it really started?


Perhaps the biggest story to come out of Google I/O back in May 2011 was the Android Update Alliance. The Android Update Alliance consisted of all the big players in the Android industry, encompassing all US carriers and handset makers. The Alliance promised that for every device released after Google I/O, it would see updates to the latest version of Android for at least 18 months after launch.

Back at Google I/O, the Update Alliance promised that it would release details of the Alliance in the few weeks after the conference. It’s been a little over 7 months now, and we still have no clue whether the Alliance actually exists or what it means for device updates. Worse, carriers and handset makers can’t actually tell us if devices released this year will ever see Android 4.0.

Jamie Lendino of PC Mag attempted to take matters into his own hands, and contacted representatives at all of the major US companies who volunteered to be in the Update Alliance. What he found was not too reassuring, as most of the carriers and handset makers refused to address whether or not specific devices would be upgraded to Ice Cream Sandwich. Even more worrisome, most companies also refused to address the commitment they made to the Android Update Alliance at Google I/O.

Though the Update Alliance was a great idea in theory, it is certainly near impossible to implement for Android. Microsoft has been able to bring the latest version of its Windows Phone operating system to devices because the software is mandated by Microsoft; OEMs simply aren’t allowed to make customizations to the software, and the updates come directly from Microsoft. Apple has been able to keep iOS devices up to date because they are both the software and handset maker; it’s easy to push software updates you’ve made to devices that you’ve also made. Google doesn’t make its own devices (yet) and allows OEMs to heavily customize the Android software, sometimes to the point where many people don’t know a device is even running Android (ahem, Kindle Fire).

In short, this heavy customization of Android made it so that Google will have its work cut out for it if the Update Alliance is ever going to become a reality. Assuming Google will continue to allow such a wide variety of customizations of its Android software, Google will need to work more closely with handset makers earlier in the process to ensure that handset makers are ready to go with their Android UI overlays when Google releases the latest and greatest version of Android. Otherwise, Android will have to become a bit less open and Google will have to implement tighter controls over its operating system.

Regardless, if Google is fully committed to the openness of Android and allows Android OEMs to customize the Android experience, it will need to do something to ensure all devices receive upgrades for the life of the device, and in a timely fashion to boot. How Google figures that out is anyone’s guess, but here’s hoping the Update Alliance was more than just hot air.

Source: PC Mag

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.

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  • zyphbear

    This was also mentioned on All About Android yesterday and I was wondering the same thing, let’s hope it’s just the OEMs being late on getting the updates out.

    • Lane Montgomery

      I think the problem is that there aren’t any real incentives for the hardware manufacturers and carriers to play by these rules.

      With the level of control Google is exerting over the hardware ecosystem decreasing (hello Archos) I don’t think they’re going to try to make more enemies.

      Our only hope is they use Motorola as a model of how they want other manufacturers to behave. Honest competition might keep them honest.

      • zerosix

        Hmm, I was sure, that AUA concerns only devices with preinstalled ICS…
        But that’s no matter. Manufacturers _will_ roll out updates, because it may become a great feature. For example, after Sony’s decision to update all 2011 devices to ICS, I am really thinking about jumping off my favourite Motorola-train.

      • aranea

        We as customers can vote by our wallets. You know if some company is slow to get the updates I’m not going to buy their phones again. For example Atrix took 7-8 months to get GB. I don’t think Motorola will even attempt ICS. So that means that my next phone is probably not going to be Motorola*.

        Another option, which I favor a lot is to force manufacturers to release a manual or optional update of the vanilla Android for each device they sell with Google partnership. If it’s manual it doesn’t have to go through the carrier, which manufacturers like to blame and it will come out quickly for people who care. People who like the customized UI (is there any out there?) can wait for the other update. This will result in fewer rooted phones and will keep people like us happy. If we’re happy we’re going to tell others buy the phones that company makes.

        *unless Google deal goes through and actually Google uses Motorola to produce flagship devices and keep the updates coming.

        • Sean the Electrofreak

          But in the same vein of thought, when a company doesn’t update the software in its phones, people get frustrated and start looking at getting a new phone.

          What I’d like to know is if a manufacturer makes more money by updating its phones, thus significantly increasing brand loyalty while simultaneously decreasing the rate of new phone purchase, versus delaying phone updates, thus significantly decreasing brand loyalty while simultaneously increasing the rate of new phone purchase.

          • nctrns

            It’s pretty simple. Updating older phones costs money in development, testing, support etc. and promises vague benefits in the future (brand loyalty), and share holders don’t like long-term, low-profit investments. Selling a new handset is an instant-gratification type of a deal – they get the money here and now.
            So of course they don’t want to update and support previous models. It’s basically a money drain in shareholders’ eyes.

          • aranea

            How many of us can actually get out of our two year contracts and buy a new phone? It’s not that easy. Besides, most of us can and do root their phones any way. I think the reason we get a new phone is not the software upgrade but the new electronics inside or outside (i.e screen). So companies still can sell new phones to us while updating the software.

            Moreover, most of the customers don’t know what version of Android or more likely aren’t even aware of the name of the OS on their phones. So it’s people like us who care about the latest and shiniest OS. And most people turn to us and ask suggestions on the phones they use. If we are loyal to company or love their policy we will suggest them a phone from that company. If I believe that my friend’s phone will not get the updates I would tell him/her to buy another phone and I actually did that before. I believe more sales come from the growing of smartphone market than replacement of phones at least for the time being.

      • Jorge Branco

        Google needs to have some form of consequence for those who don’t update. A contract which stipulates they need to pay a fine floor each handset not updated would be ideal but there’s little to no chance of that being supported

      • superusermode

        “Our only hope is they use Motorola as a model of how they want other manufacturers to behave. Honest competition might keep them honest.”

        9 months later…

        The first thing Motorola did after Google took ownership (after laying off 4k people) was to cancel updates on nearly everything but Verizon devices, further solidifying their subservience to Verizon while leaving everyone else out in the cold. If this is the best of what Android has to offer then I don’t want any part of it.

  • goncalossilva

    The Update Alliance mustn’t fail. It’s a crucial side to this whole Google – manufacturer – client process.

  • damambt

    😃 GO ANDROID! 👍

    • damambt

      WTF! If people don’t like Android, then stay out A&M. Don’t troll around and hate on peoples comments. Whats with all the -1′s!

      • faun

        The -1s are because your comments add absolutely nothing of value to this article or the discussion about it.

  • Alexander drzfr3shboialex

    I don’t think so pretty much all manf. are coming out saying they will update soon to ICS, so maybe now i’ts kicking in effect.

    • aranea

      No manufacturers are saying that they are going to update only new phones. They aren’t updating the phones whose hardware supports ICS and are less than a year old. Google wants manufacturers to keep updating at least for 1.5 years. Given that people are usually stuck in two year contracts in US a phone that’s less than a year old but not being updated is atrocious.

      • Colin

        very much this

        my mom has a Galaxy S 4G which was only released back in February and it still hasn’t gotten Gingerbread

        meanwhile my Galaxy S II will be getting ICS and you can bet my mom’s phone won’t be

  • jaxidian

    Unfortunately, I would have to say, “Yes, it’s failed.” I absolutely HATE it. I despise it. But I simply don’t see ANYBODY making it happen. It was a GREAT idea and I was shocked that it received the support that it did by all of the different companies. But I think it’s dead in the water unless somebody does some major pushing in a very public way, which obviously isn’t happening…

    • Shadowlore

      The big problem is that anyone can say: ‘Sure I’ll do that in the future’, but unless someone holds them to that (or sets a deadline for the ‘future’) it’s just manufacturers blowing smoke.

      Remember the people that bought ‘Ready for Vista’ machines a few years back, only to find out that half of the PCs that were marked as such, were anything but?

      Again, it’s easy to promise the world…. but very few companies deliver it.

      • Lewis McGeary

        I suppose the question is who can hold them to it?

        If people bought handsets from particular manufacturers after that promise had been made, and it turns out to be false, surely a case can be made that it was part of the sales pitch of the product, part of the persons reason in deciding to buy, and therefore be under someone’s remit re false advertising or similar?

        • Shadowlore

          Unfortunately, unless there’s written documentation that says: ‘This device will be upgraded to version X.x by DD-MM-YY’ there’s very little legal grounds to stand on.

          Hell.. I bought a BB Storm 2 under the impression that it was going to get BBOS 6.0… They alluded to it, they had screenshots, and showed it at trade conventions that it DID run on it…

          Then they pulled the rug out, and said it wouldn’t be supported on previous touch devices… I went out and traded my Storm for an OG Droid on craigslist the very next day.

          Companies do it all the time, but until they commit to it in writing, it’s all hearsay.

        • aranea

          The companies find a way to get around their false advertising. Just as you’ve said they claim to do it sometime in the future. When I bought my Atrix it was promised to get GB, which was released 2 months before Atrix started to be sold soon. Yet it took them till August to release the GB update. And if you go read their support forums they find ways to make that 8-9 month gap sound like “soon”. We, customers have sticks to force an update but they are very tiny compared to the company’s size. Unless somehow we can manage to group Google seems like the only logical enforcer.

          • superusermode

            As a follow up to this, in February of 2012 were told that we would get ICS for the Atrix 4G in Q3 of 2012. After Google took over, Punit Soni makes this wonderful post on his G+ account about how the update process is going to get better and is going to be more transparent. Then just a week before Q3 came to an end, Motorola went into an information blackout regarding the updates followed by a cancellation announcement on an obscure post on their forums late that Friday night.

            Even the Atrix 2 didn’t escape the knife. Just days after it finally received its ICS update, it was announced that it would not receive JB, while at the same time it was announced that the Bionic would receive both.

            How does Google expect other OHA members to adhere to that agreement if their own company can’t? As far as I’m concerned, Google just blazed the trail for Android’s death march.

        • nctrns

          Google can try to exert more control over the system through licensing agreements, but after all the freedom the OEM’s had, it will be difficult to introduce and enforce.

  • Lewis McGeary

    I worry for it, the fact no one has mentioned it suggests it may be a promise they’d rather forget.


    I think it is proving harder than what they expected.. Just to proud to admit it

  • TFJ4

    Google should make OEM’s ship with stock and allow them to skin it with a non-mandatory update. Then when a update comes out, update stock and then skin with a non-mandatory update. Repeat.

    • Alex George

      That has so much potential! I can’t see it being too too difficult for manufacturers to do, I mean, T-Mobiles theme chooser works flawlessly on CM7

      • Thomas Biard

        Well if other manufacturers are going to do what HTC said they’re going to do (Concentrate more on quality builds rather than many different flagship phones in a year), then keeping their line of phones up to date won’t be as big of an issue because they won’t be updating 30 phones, they’ll be updating 2-4 phones.

        Bottom line: Fewer releases of phones=Longer, more thorough support for phones

      • DroidSamurai

        Let me repeat it — it won’t happen. It’s not that Google can’t do it, but judging from what Google exec has said in the past, they are simply NOT interested in doing that. They probably won’t even try. IMO, I think they believe what we are seeing now is not a problem at all, but merely the side effect of the rapid release cycle of mobile computing.

    • Alan

      I’m with you TFJ.

      Your proposal never would of worked at the beginning. But now that Android is so pervasive and has such a loyal following, Google has the leverage – not the device manufacturers.

      Google needs to use their leverage to keep the device manufacturers from fragmenting Android to death. Don’t let Android go down the linux path Google!

    • w9jds

      This would be amazing. The only problem is that the company making the phone will still have to modify some of android to get it to work on their phones, so some delay would still be there. This is because all phones these days have different kernels all made for the specific device along with all the files that are for the hardware inside. These are usually completely different from what is in AOSP (Exception would be Nexus phones). Otherwise this is an amazing Idea, might have some merit.

    • aranea

      Or if they really want to keep their skins on release a manual update of the vanilla Android. We can download and update. People who loves the skin can wait. As it’s not over the air it doesn’t have to go through the carriers that manufacturers always blame for slow updates.

  • Shadowlore

    The whole agreement that so many vendors signed on for, was nothing more than mouth service for the industry.

    The manufacturers have, and always will, update devices as they see fit, when they see fit.

    When the news of this came out originally, everyone was jumping for joy, because their current devices were going to be updated and quickly, and be future proof for awhile.

    Sadly, I hope not everyone believed all these statements. While I have no doubt there will be a few devices that will see ICS that are out already, I’m willing to bet that 90% of devices that were out during that announcement will not see it, short of a ROM.

  • Steve Heinrich

    Hopefully they will keep fighting for this to work out. The time and money these companies have to invest are a small price to pay for happy, satisfied consumers. I really wish it didn’t come down to money, but I would be naive to think these companies weigh anything more than the bottom line.

  • Thorpeland

    I think it was a loose verbal commitment from all the big players, who had no real intentions of making it happen. It was good PR and made them all look good. When in reality, they all returned to their HQ’s and to business as usual. Probably with even more determination to further entrench sense, touch wiz, moboblur and crapware into Android. Big companies do not look back, only forward. So old phones are of no concern to them. Only profit on the next phone. Its sad.

  • Michael MoneyMike

    My charge won’t be seeing a ics update from the looks of this… That is to bad. It really isn’t a bad device.

    • Shadowlore

      I agree.. the only issue I ever had with the Charge, was the cheap bezel they used on it… my wife’s was trashed just from taking it out of her purse’s cellphone pocket within 2 months.

  • Marcus

    I don’t think the Alliance was ever really implemented. A lot of OEMs apparently disregarded the fact that they even took part in that. As much as I hate to say it, I think it failed. Hopefully Google will try to bring it back, when manufacturers will be more dependable. Maybe Google will start making their own devices that they can update. Like the Nexus line. It will be way easier.

  • AsakuraZero

    any option that makes the updates faster on the phones is good, if its to push the update AOSP then let the oem to send their skin, or just skip the skins, or make the skins with the rom.

    w/e works it im with it, android need to be organized in a way or another… sadly there is a party and nobody is on the same tone

  • Billy

    It will be interesting to see what kind of pressure Google puts on them to adhere to the alliance. If Google can get a couple big players to commit then the others may fall in line for competition.

    It seems many vendors are already preparing ICS updates but they may have PR restrictions right now until they figure it all out. A vendor doesn’t want to say it’s going to upgrade a phone and then not … even if they committed to the alliance.

  • w9jds

    Why would they think 18 months is long enough though? I mean really most people don’t update their phone until they have an available phone upgrade so they don’t have to pay ridiculously high prices off package. Usually (or I mean as far as I know) it happens every 2 years. Why would they push for 18 when it would probably make customers would be happier if it was 24 months?

    Don’t get me wrong I love Google for trying, because I bought a Inspire 4g and within a week they released the sense 3.0 and said no old phones will be upgraded. I just wonder why they don’t strive for much longer. Most phones we see lose support can most definitely keep going, but they get dropped.

  • Chris

    What they need is that if a phone from any manufacturer or carrier can only be labeled or use the name Android is if they can guarantee updates. Else they should have to skin it to the point that “Android” is invisible and cannot market or say that it runs android. I think Google should set stricter restrictions on how the ui is customized or create an ui layer that easier to “theme” and update. I think this is one of the last things that is really holding Android back.

  • Techrocket9

    Not really surprising, is it?

  • Brook Marin

    The carriers and manufacturers have no incentive to push updates to these devices. With most people used to upgrading their phone to get new features and software, why should they put forth the effort to push out updates to phones that are not even for sale anymore? By only putting their money into new product development with the newer software, it keeps encouraging this cycle and they make more money on the sale of new devices.

    Now if they changed the model a little bit and charged customers for the software upgrades, then it might be profitable for the carriers and manufacturers to develop the code for the older devices.

  • ltdanno

    i need more points omg!

  • Adryan maldonado

    Kinda of sad to hear this failing. However it has only been 7 months so technically they still have 11 months before it’s considered a complete failure. I. Have faith they’ll come thru but google has a bumpy road ahead of them. To continue to be open and be attacked about fragmentation with people complaining. Or to possibly lose a lot of openness cred and get stricter like apple and possibly ensure timely updates for future phones. Hope Google can find a middle ground.

  • mavensage

    I can’t see the alliance ever working. We are mostly in this mess because of so many companies skinning Android. I can’t see any company has taken so much time and effort to differentiate its products of ever giving that up. Not to mention all the agreements putting bloatware on phones constrain them from being updated until is made compatible as well.

    Any company that realises it can separate most of the skin from the OS and maintain differentiation as well as speed up updates will have an advantage. I also think it would be smart move to maintain at least one line of products that are unskinned for those customers who prefer plain vanilla Android.

  • ltdanno

    iwould like to be at level 70
    i like burritos and green sauce!

    • Lewis McGeary

      Unfortunately I don’t think you’ll get there that way, useful contributions are the way forward.

      But feel my pain, 69.39, another 0.11 and I’d have been rounded up to 70.

    • w9jds

      Can you not post unless it is relevant please? This unnecessary posting just to get points so you can get into the contest not only shows disrespect, but it is also mean to the writers of Android and Me. They are here to inform us and allow us to talk about it and things like this just ruin it.

  • droiddewd

    I havent relied on carriers or handset makers to bring me any OS updates since Cupcake and I dont expect anything to change. At some point this could be one of things that truly breaks Android’s back for consumers (though if you are that much into Android you’re aware of the devs like CM that fix this issue anyway.)

  • ltdanno

    unlock bootloaders !
    would you agree?

  • pitacrisps

    I am completely okay with Google becoming a little less open. I mean I love the freedom of choice, but the market is becoming flooded. (Bionic and the Razr, almost back to back? WTH!)
    I think the handset manufactorers need to slow it down a little and focus more on the devices they’ve put out then constantly oudating all their other devices. I also believe Google should have a better set of guidlelines for who can use the OS. All the cheap Android tablets on ebay really give Android a bad name. And all the carrier bloat is frustrating for the end user.

    • w9jds

      I agree, Motorola is one of those companies I would like to see concentrate on quality and not quantity for HTC said they would next year. They have lots of people that like their phones but really if they pushed out products that were meant for great quality I think they would not only help the android community but also help with this keeping everything up to date, since they won’t have to update so many devices.

      • Thomas Biard

        Haha I essentially said the same thing in reply to another post up the thread then I came across your comment. I whole heartedly agree.

    • ericmcginnisde

      Agreed. You can’t have it both ways. Device manufacturers have no motivation to update devices after they are sold so the OS must create guidelines for software customization for updates that work for devices with similar hardware.

  • securifirm

    What manufactures need to do is offer the ability to either flash stock android or flash their “themed” version of android. In all honesty, this would be a huge win win for the android community.

    • w9jds

      I think this is the exact reason why some of the manufacturers like HTC are now offering the ability to unlock your bootloader and get root access. They know that this will help the community grow, and personally I love them for it. It encourages developers to help out and try to not only get updates going but make new content.

  • RobBull75

    OEM’s and carriers have no interest in updating devices, as it cuts down on sales. There are many reasons why they should update often, such as security patches, but ultimately dollars are going to trump the customer’s best interests.

  • JH


    • NasLAU

      If you read recent news then you’ll know that not all Galaxy Nexus’are created equal.

      • JH

        I live in Europe and here AFAIK all Galaxy Nexus’s (Nexi?) are equal.

        I have a Nexus S which have just been updated to ICS. IMHO buying a Nexus is the only way (apart from using a custom rom) to ensure getting the newest version of Android.

        I left my HTC phone because it didn’t get updated. But what to expect? Only Nexus is the pure Android experience, everything else is somewhat a knock-off.

  • stenzor

    I think Google needs to micro manage a bit more.. it’s not as if they don’t have the manpower to do so either

  • ranwanimator

    It sounds nice on paper and makes a good show, but who other than the enthusiast crowd really care? At the end of the day, the user just wants a phone that works. I doubt the majority of people even know about ICS much less want it on their phone yesterday. Plus Google does a poor job of advertising (which I mentioned on a different post) so no one really knows anything about Android or it’s future from a unified standpoint. Just disparate manufacturer commercials each pushing their own line with their own UI as if they were all fundamentally different from each other.

    Don’t get me wrong, I would love for all devices to have ICS pushed out to them, but that costs money that I don’t think the manufacturers really want to spend.

    • NasLAU

      All customers see is iPhones and WP7 getting new features for free and not their Android devices.

  • MJM128

    Microsoft also restricts what hardware you can have for a windows phone 7 device.

    I think the Update Alliance right now is failing until proven otherwise. There’s no incentives for them to stay true to quick updates and updating the devices for almost 2 years. I think google needs to reward those that stay true to the promise, and punish those that aren’t keeping up to their bargain.

  • wyngo

    I think Google should shame manufacturers into staying up to date. If they published an easy-to-use way to compare manufacturers and product lines in terms of timely updates, bloggers could incorporate that into their reviews of new devices and it would influence purchases. It would also be good PR for the Nexus line.

  • theJP

    I think that all the manufacturers need to do is give everyone who buys a phone the option to “easily” put stock Android on their phone without voiding their warranty. Then leave the updates for those phones to Google. The average user who is on the manufacturer bloated version of Android will be stuck waiting for the manufacturer to update it.

    Is this going to happen? NO! But I can dream can’t i?

  • ChaosKiller

    At DroidConNL the same question popped up and I was there when they asked a Google employee. He states that indeed, it is going slow but they are still working on it.

    • ChaosKiller

      I should really need to learn to log in :/

  • redraider133

    I think until google steps in and says if you do noyt update the phones such and such will happen to the manufacturers, it is going to be an uphill battle with manufacturers and carriers getting updates out and instead want you to buy the new “updated” phone

    • Martjn2

      Please it’s not googles phone. More vanilla=faster updates
      It’s simple

      • redraider133

        Not necessarily true. Look at the G2. Google was the one who came up with this idea so even if it is not a nexus it is still Google’s responsibility to enforce something otherwise things will stay how they are.

  • KPeter0314

    This is a crying shame and unfortunately one of the reasons I stuck with a Motorola Android – because they are one of the few manufacturers who actually push updates to the previous models of phones instead of letting you hang out to dry with the old OS.

  • fatspirit

    I think that buyers will force vendors to update their phones. Remember SE when their phones all stuck at 1.6? And now SE promise to update the whole 2011 line to ICS.

  • JGarrido

    Most may see it as arguing semantics, but it’s actually called the Android Update Initiative. When I first seeing reports of the ‘Alliance’ being doomed, I got pretty worried, until I realized the snafu. I think some reporter at some point confused it with the Open Handset Alliance (

  • darkhorse166

    It’s going to be tricky – one of the reasons that some Android manufacturers adopted the platform in the first place was because it gave them the access required to let them differentiate their products on a software and services level, and, unless Google can find a way to abstract the Android update process from whatever software differentiation the OEMs have done, this Android Update Alliance has always been pushing against a big interest of the manufacturers.

    Of course, external pressure such as customer dissatisfaction and competing platforms provide motivating reasons for OEMs to update their software.

    I think work needs to be done at both ends – Google in finding a way to allow differentiation on Android without breaking the core update process (possibly meaning letting OEMs do less with the core code base than before), and the manufacturers in creating customisations that don’t impede the update process.

  • jenskristian

    I’m still hopeful

  • Fabio R

    I hope people will notice that stock android is far better and just demand it from the manufacturers

  • Jimmy13

    This is the ups and downs of open source. I gave up on the carriers updating my OS a long time ago. I wish it mattered to them more but to them these devices are moved through the stores are not even for sell when the next update rolls around. I have a G2 and it went from 2.2 to 2.3 but I am betting tmo doesn’t send out ICS. Cyanogenmod to the rescue!

    • Andrew Castro

      Clap, Clap. You and others are why the Carriers/Manufactures don’t give a rat’s ass about updating phones. Cyanogenmod does it for them and it doesn’t cost them a damn thing. Cyanogenmod makes you hate Samusung alittle less everytime you update your 1 year old phone for example.

      Half the people here bitch about not getting the Carrier/Manufactures to update their phone while the other half troll them to just use Cyanogenmod and be done with it. Two birds are killed here because people do get the update they want and people stop bitching to Samsung because Cyanogenmod is their new savior.

      Its a very vicious cycle that appears every time Andoroid is updated. Don’t get me wrong its your phone and you can do what ever you want but realistically speaking this is why there isn’t as much pressure on them as they should have. Look at the public hate fest every time Apple screws up something with their OS, people turn to them first instead of Cyanogenmod like alternatives.

  • teeslee

    It’ll be interesting to see what actual happens.

  • auronblue

    Unfortunately I don’t see this working out. I think that Google has good intentions and would love to see customers upgraded to their newest OS. The manufacturers probably want the same thing. Ultimately, it is the carriers who want to continue to sell people new phones and lock them into longer contracts that will undermine this whole process. I would think they would be arguing for a shorter support period for the handsets in order to do just that. I think their supposed support was purely lip service to obtain good PR at a time when everybody was complaining of ‘fragmentation.’

    • Jack Thakar

      I agree. I think it’s absurd that they lock you into a two year contract and then don’t provide you with software updates for that two year period. I see why the OG Droid can’t get ICS, because it lacks the necessary space, but there was no reason for it not to get Gingerbread.

  • ndub21


    Nexus phones for life.

  • jamal adam

    Having the option to uninstall skins and go back to stock android would be great.

  • GrendelJapan

    This is the way of all agreements that big businesses make where adherence is voluntary.

    As other have alluded, what is really needed is one Android manufacturer to lead the way with a near-exclusive focus on vanilla devices. If there was any debate as to whether or not pure Gingerbread was ready for the masses, Ice Cream Sandwich most certainly is. Manufacturers can streamline their costs and radically improve the timeliness of their software updates by going the vanilla route.

    One company just needs to lead the way and either strong-arm or partner with a willing (underdog?) carrier to put a real dent in the floodgates.

  • Skis03

    This right here is Android’s biggest problem. If they can start getting the newer OS on phones and tablets quicker they would better compete with iOS

  • Jack Thakar

    I think the only way for Google to get manufacturers and carriers to release updates is to force them to. Obviously, as Android is open source, Google can’t actually do that. However, they could block manufacturers from using the Android Market and other Google apps on their devices if they don’t agree to release updates within a timely manner and for at least a year and a half.

    If Google did this, every major manufacturer would agree to their demands because they know that a lot of people will not buy their phones if they don’t come with the Market and Gmail. If Google really wanted to assert control over Android, they could even demand that all phones with Google apps have at least the option to remove custom skins.

    The Update Alliance cannot be voluntary. While AOSP prevents Google from making it mandatory, Google apps can at least make it highly recommended.

  • ramenchef

    It’s more motorola and the smaller companies than anything. HTC and Samsung are on the ball for the most part. Everything else lies with the carriers.

  • YNWA

    Once they see how well the Galaxy Nexus sells once it hits all the carriers, they will see just how much people like stock Android. Hopefully some companies will release a stock option to their lineup.

  • humidity

    Hopefully this still holds true. My buddy of mine went and got an iPhone purely b/c of OS updates.

  • angermeans

    This is honestly sad and will slowly be what kills Android in most fans eyes especially as WP7 grows in popularity. People tend to get burned once, maybe twice and then not again. People are tired of this. I just read the PC Mag article and it is really sad. Motorola knowingly launched a dozen high end phones with no intention of updates and they are the ones that are being scooped up by Google and you would think Google would be holding them to a strict upgrade schedule to set a good example. This is why I am done with skinned devices and I dont care if I have to upgrade only once a year (I know blasphemy, huh) and jump carriers to get a Google Nexus device and Google experience, It is the only device and Android branded phone to get and this year has shown that. I was so excited for the future of Android last year at this time and it has really fallen apart and OEMs and Wireless carriers are to blame. Its become a joke and the only phones that get talked of getting updates are the ones on the shelf or close to market when Google launches its next big OS update. Its horrible cause even those come way late or never come at all. Between the Xoom and TBolt alone I have been extremely burned out by Android, HTC, and Motorola. Now just 8 months after release the TBolt is not even mentioned on the list of the PC Mag article that is showing the sad state of Android. People will move on and they want timely updates and MS knows this as they have lived it. Google needs to tighten the reigns and fast (Im not saying that is going to be easy it just needs to be done in some way).

  • Samar

    I certainly hope that this “Alliance” thing doesn’t blow up Goggle’s nose. They have a strong lead against the Big ‘A’. You don’t wanna loose it b’cuz of some silly & poor management tricks.

  • halo0

    As unfortunate as it is, I think with the galaxy nexus launch we are seeing how well these “promises” go over. And it’s “not”.

  • eliander mendoza


  • nwilliam3

    I honestly don’t think updates are as big a deal as most people want to make them. Obviously for those of us who are big fans and buy the high-end phones this is a very big deal. But the majority of Android users have no idea what version they are on and honestly don’t care. Of the dozen or so people I know with Android phones, I bet no more that 3 know what version they are running and I bet over 5 don’t even know there are multiple versions.

    • Jeff

      It becomes a serious problem when instead of feature updates, we start talking about security fixes, as smartphones store FAR more personal data than most computers do, plus it has a persistent internet connection and and apps can run without your knowledge (just look at the whole Carrier IQ scandal). Windows may be the most attacked OS today, but certainly if Android maintains it’s marketshare for the next 5-10 years, it’ll be the top prize for hackers.

  • Jeff

    The long update times for most phones is the reason why the only Android device you should ever get should be a Nexus.

  • Jorge Eslava

    Not releasing updates might mean better sales in the short run but if the manufacturers want to keep loyal customers they’ll want to keep phones updated for as long as possible.

  • NasLAU

    Short answer to the title: Yes. It used to be that going with a Nexus phone was enough but it’s looking more like rooting is the only sure way to get a timely update.

  • Luke Haviland

    I still dont understand why they slap on their own custom UI on android
    …still don;t get it

  • vid500

    The main problem is, that all are useing the same OS but are still competitors and fight for their market share. Maybe they will come to an understanding that this would be important for costumers.

  • yankeesusa

    I really hope that android fixes this. This is hurting android because friends and family of mine with cheap phones say android is bad because their phone can’t handle it. While people with phones lie the evo or sensation love android. Something needs to be done. Google is going to have to step up and start putting restrictions on the hardware that their os can go on to run to its fullest capacity. Now I see why apple sticks to their hardware and their own updates. It just works. Microsoft is doing the same thing sort of by not allowing customization. Although customization is androids greatest feature it is also their downfall when it comes to crappy phones running horrible ui.

  • Eric

    You should follow this article up with a poll. Something along the lines of:

    If you could remove/disable OEM UI on non-vanilla android phones, which would you consider buying? (Galaxy Nexus not being an option) I think some phones, mainly those without root/locked bootloaders would become much more popular because you could at least revert to true stock.

  • _Diego

    This is very frustrating indeed. Though I love the overlay UI on my phone, I’d like to have the choice to install native Android or the stock ROM with overlay UI…

    For example: if I bought a HTC Rezound but I don’t like the UI, I could opt to reinstall my device and install ICS on it… And still being able to go back to the original ROM…

    I know, I could root my device etc., but that doesn’t cut it – I want to keep my warranty and support if I have problems with the original ROM even after I’ve reinstalled the phone a couple of times…

  • donger

    i like stock vanilla android, no custom ui has ever impressed me.