Mar 27 AT 2:51 PM Taylor Wimberly 146 Comments

Google sucks at upgrading their own devices to Android 4.0


Here is a story I didn’t think I would be writing a year ago. Google is disappointing a lot of Nexus S owners with their inconsistent software updates, as our very own Dustin pointed out earlier this month.

Now JR Raphael of Computer World has graded most of the major manufacturers on their promises to deliver Android 4.0 updates and the results confirm what others have been saying. Acer, Archos, ASUS, and HTC all received better grades than Google when it came to updating their devices to Android 4.0.

Even AT&T, once billed the worst carrier for Android users, rubbed salt in Nexus S owners’ wounds when it updated the HTC Vivid to Android 4.0 this week.

Last year at Google IO 2011, Google and their partners announced the Android Update Alliance to help speed up software updates, but it doesn’t appear to have had any effect. There have been a lack of updates about the alliance, which led some to write that it failed before it really started.

JR summed it up perfectly when he said, “While Google doesn’t tend to promise explicit upgrade dates for its devices, the company has trained us to know that its Nexus and ‘Google experience’ labels come with certain benefits, and early-and-often upgrades are at the top of that list. Worse yet, Google has stayed silent on the matter and given users no update on what’s going on.

We have already covered the whole mess pretty extensively, so I don’t really have much to add to the matter. Hopefully Google will improve their communication with the Android community and let them know when to expect these updates.

Until then, what’s the point in owning a Nexus device (if you are not a developer)? Maybe as some have suggested, the Nexus series is coming to and end. But then again, the Sprint Galaxy Nexus has yet to be launched.

Update: Google just announced Android 4.0.4 is coming to the UMTS/GSM Nexus S, Xoom WiFi, and HSPA+ Galaxy Nexus. The Sprint Nexus S 4G, Verizon Galaxy Nexus, and Verizon Xoom 4G should be updated in the “coming weeks.”

Source: Computer World

Taylor is the founder of Android and Me. He resides in Dallas and carries the Samsung Galaxy S 4 and HTC One as his daily devices. Ask him a question on Twitter or Google+ and he is likely to respond. | Ethics statement

    Most Tweeted This Week

  • Tim

    If the Nexus brand is coming to an end so could my Android buying experience.

    • spazby

      I hate to agree, google has to figure out to get the timely updates out….

      • jonathan3579

        It’s not just about timely updates. Even the 4.0.3 source code has bugs. This means that all these devices based off 4.0.3 can (and might) have the bugs as well. Then, you have to wait for Google to update the source and maybe just maybe your manufacturer of choice will update your phone before moving onto something else.

        • Hannu Leinonen

          Show me a source code that doesn’t?

          • autonomousgerm

            Of course they all do. But most companies fix it quickly. Not Google.

          • counsel dew

            Well… when I cant have a two-way phone conversation on my phone, I’d say such code shouldn’t have been released… I had to buy a new phone just to communicate-chose on with GB since it apoears more refined. I have a phone to make phone calls, but your mileage may vary :(

        • dextroz

          Every Google product lately is riddled with bugs and piss poor implementation of features for the past couple years now.

          • autonomousgerm

            You’re downvoted to oblivion, but you’re absolutely correct. Google hasn’t released a good product since gmail. And they even ruined that with their “design” pass.

        • nosense

          That’s why they skip 4.0.3 and will release 4.0.5 to both GNex and Nexus S in a couple of weeks.

          Sure the SII ICS udate is hard to swallow, just when some Gphones are still stuck in Gingerbread… but waiting two weeks is not asking too much to the Conmunity isn’t it?

          The article is a nice piece of gay overreaction proper from a Apple type of hungry asshole.

          When you pick ur phone, is there any clause in the contract where it says that Google has any obligation to pull updates every X weeks? Now whats the point with this article? You forgot about the fragmentation issue, any more cries?


          • jonathan3579

            nosense, you clearly have no sense. Nice choice for a display name.

      • Gulpo

        Yeah it gets harder to recommend Android after every update question I answer usually begins with “well depends on your carrier and phone manufacturer…” My fiance’s Samsung Captivate finally got gingerbread and despite it being in development for so long, the update is buggy. She is plagued by “Wireless Tether” errors, despite not having it enabled, and the only solution I was able to find online and through Samsung was to do a factory wipe. This is after the froyo update causing reboots and random shut downs right out of the box.

        Can’t wait to see the bugs I run into with Samsung’s TouchWiz ICS on my Skyrocket :\

    • Jon Garrett

      wa wa wa. stop complaining. most people don’t NEED updates, they want it because its new.

      I have 4 Samsung devices, Galaxy Tab 10.1, Note, SII & player 4.0 and once they all get ICS there will be ZERO noticeable difference between ICS and Honeycomb & Gingerbread.

      • redraider133

        Except most people do need updates simply to address the bugs and issues with the phones. It isn’t all about needing the latest and greatest, the bug fixes and security patches that come along with it are what most want.

      • svenesven

        And by then jellybean will be out.

      • mickje

        Um, wow, what an ass!

        I NEED my ICS update on my Nexus S 4G because:
        the phone reception sucks (I think this is the major delay issue here, not battery life. They are attempting to fix hardware issues with software.)
        My email app on 2.3 is buggy as hell, therefore affecting my personal and professional communications
        I’d like to use Chrome as my sole browser, across all platforms
        Um, cuz I just bought this phone in November, and both Google and Sprint promised timely updates.

        It’s not just about “gimme gimme new!”, it’s about getting functionality out of what should be a development phone!!!

    • Joel Bird

      I’m a bit confused. My Nexus S got ICS and it’s great. The installer is freely available and requires no hacking. I understand that the original build reportedly had problems which is why it was pulled originally, but neither I nor my friends have experienced these problems. Seems weird why they haven’t started the rollout again. Did many people experience the reported bugs?

      I just think all these attacks on the Nexus devices are a little unwarranted. They should definitely be quicker, but it’s best to have a good release than a terrible one right?

      I do 100% agree that google needs way better communication. They need a better service desk, they need to respond within 24 hours for market support issues, and most importantly they need to reply to user bug reports. Seems the majority of google support pages I go to have little to no google employee activity. It’s like all these people have issues, and no one cares. They might be working on it in the background, but they need to let people know what’s going on so people don’t start raging.

  • kwills88

    Hate to say it, but as much as I dislike apple/iOS I gotta give credit where credit is due, they issue out their updates consistently without delay, though android updates has to do with the carriers slacking some times, things can be better.

    • WickedToby741

      Apples to oranges (no pun intended). Apple updates two or three of their own designed devices whenever they feel it’s ready. Google releases Android updates when it thinks it’s time for manufacturers to start using them. They could wait until updates were ready for all of their own devices similar to how Apple does, but then other manufacturers don’t have access to the latest software. Android is a whole different beast than iOS. That has it’s advantages and disadvantages. You get more choice, but support becomes a lot more difficult.

      • kwills88

        Yeah and that’s what ics was supposed to solved, unity across all platforms.

      • sunrise

        You seem to have missed the entire point of the Article.

        The conversation is about Google updating their Nexus line. There are only 3 Nexus devices.
        Nexus One
        Nexus S
        Galaxy Nexus

        Google already said Nexus One will not get ICS, however Nexus S will.

        We are talking about providing timely updates for 2 phones at this point (Nexus S, Galaxy Nexus).

        Is that really that hard to do?

        iPhone 3GS and iPhone 4 received an immediate update to iOS 5 which launched on iPhone 4S.

        • geiko

          Don’t forget the Xoom, which failed to get a timely ICS update.

        • delinear

          Exactly, I have a Galaxy Nexus that’s still on 4.02 an update which, according to Wikipedia at least, is pointless for me anyway as it was to address issues with the Verizon edition and I’m in the UK. Meanwhile 4.03 was released mid December and I still don’t have it on my supposedly bleeding edge Nexus device.

          I can understand individual manufacturers and carriers might take time to make UI changes and do internal testing and hold the process up, but I bought the GN specifically to get timely updates, 3+ months from release is getting a bit silly, it’s taking away from the main reason I bought the GN instead of the Note (especially when the Note finally gets ICS).

      • counsel dew

        Google would do better if a few design alternatives were supported, if bloatware didn’t exist, and if updates came from google. Just my 2¢…

  • jaxidian

    This is really a terrible thing for Google to do. Personally, I think they’re selling out their loyal Android users and trying to focus either on profits, growth, or something else at our expense. As one of the oldest Android users around (had the G1 3 days before it launched), I really feel betrayed!

    • aranea

      That’s what I was thinking. I’m using motorola atrix right now and was really thinking about getting back to nexus line because I’ll get the upgrade but if google doesn’t upgrade them then what’s the point?

      • ehab

        I feel you both. I have the Nexus One and am thinking about upgrading. Galaxy Nexus was a huge candidate simply because of this stupid update issue. If Google won’t even update their own branded phones, what’s the point? Besides, isn’t it their responsibility to ensure their OS updates get to every phone out there unless hardware requirements forbids it? It shouldn’t be that hard, Android is based on Java and Java runs independent of the hardware. Just release a good JVM for the platform and you’re good to go.

        • PacoBell

          “Android is based on Java and Java runs independent of the hardware. Just release a good JVM for the platform and you’re good to go.”

          It’s not that simple. Dalvik is only part of the equation. You’ve still got the underlying Linux subsystem to contend with and all the specialized kernel drivers that need to be written for each device. That some OEMs are able to do this process faster than others is a testament to their competence in the market. Sadly, it seems Samsung is still learning how to do this better than their competitors.

        • mickjen

          Though Sprint and Samsung have both been ABSOLUTELY silent on when the ICS OTA would roll out, Sprint just announced it is dropping WiMax coverage for LTE.

          If my Nexus S 4G isn’t updated tonight by midnight, the end of the 1st Quarter AFTER the December roll out, I am going to demand a free upgrade to the Galaxy Nexus LTE, which Sprint tabled to launch.

  • Bryan Stoner

    Maybe they just have some bad eggs in the update department. I just hope it’s not some deep rooted issue in the company itself.

    • Johnnylambada

      I hate to tell you, but it is a deeply rooted problem with the company. All of their non-flagship products that I’ve tried have problems that they just never address. I really think it’s a philosophical problem with the way they do engineering. They only hire type-A top tier engineering cowboys/girls, and those folks only want to work on the newest shinyest toys — they simply refuse to do any sustaining engineering. That means that anything that’s not right the first time either (a) will never get fixed or (b) will get fixed when someone decides it needs a complete redesign/rewrite. Their products are rife with these types of issues — feature requests/bug reports that have been around for years with not a word from goog. In 2003, Harvard Business Review had a great article called “Let’s Hear it for the B Players” that talks about how “B players” contribute to an organization. Ironically, the way Google can solve a lot of its engineering problems is by hiring less-capable engineers to crawl around the code base and fix the bugs left behind by the cowboys!

      • ion roof

        This is so so true. It’s evident in all their products. The first few runs/versions are essentially live beta projects. Former G1 owner so I know how it feels.

        Sometimes it works, sometimes they just bomb. Most of the time, the products just do enough to avoid a full scale riot but leave people with sour tastes.

        Google are an ad company. They sell ads. Android, gmail, apps are all secondary. So expect secondary prioritisation.

      • jaxidian

        I’m in total agreement! Personally, I’m a Type A developer. I love it and hate it, but I’m very aware of it. This is precisely why I REALLY want good Type B developers around me. Without them, I fail hard. With them, I can succeed hard!

        But this is EXACTLY why it is CRITICAL for a good team to also be a diverse team!

      • Bryan Stoner

        Great point, thank you for bringing this up! ~ A lot of classes that i’ve taken, as an information systems major, stress how important maintenance is. If Google isn’t taking the proper steps in order to maintain a project after it has been implemented then they might as well reconsider their entire workforce. Heck, they should hire you!

    • autonomousgerm

      Whatever it is, Google is making a lot of world class mistakes in the past couple of years. They’re driving even the most loyal users to question and criticize their performance and practices. They are an advertising company, but they used to make it seem like they cared about the user first. Now it just seems like they care about massive growth first, and the sustainability of the platform and satisfaction of the users second and third.

  • allen wil

    The problem is Nexus is no longer a developer phone. Its now a brand. I knew i was not getting this nexus because sammy had there hands on it.

  • redraider133

    I wonder if maybe they are just holding out and working on the next version since ICS seems to have pretty many bugs and maybe they just want to add the things they held off for the next version and can get it working better on the cdma devices. Seems they are having issues with cdma devices and getting the updates to play nice on those among other devices.

  • Burnd

    I think if Google favoured their phones with the first updates, people would complain saying it’s unfair. You gotta admit it’s pretty humble of Google. ;D

    • Burnd

      Apparently some people need sarcasm tags to point out it was a joke.

    • androidandme-kevind

      Ah, finally we’ve figured out the reason the Nexus S is still waiting on a working upgrade!

  • Richard Yarrell

    Things will get back on track people should take a step back and don’t over react to this situation. The least everyone should do is remain calm. Google will fix this issue then what will everyone who owns a Nexus device will be saying??

    • squiddy20

      Yeahhh, we all know you’re saying this BS because you have ICS. If you had the Nexus S, you’d be complaining your ass off like you always have when you’ve been proven wrong.
      “Google will fix this issue then what will everyone who owns a Nexus device will be saying??” I don’t know Richard why don’t you spell it out for us “simple folk”? Do you have any idea what they *could* be saying? If not, shut the f*ck up.

    • androidandme-kevind

      After we get ICS we’ll be saying “why didn’t they fix THIS feature, it’s totally broken”. Or “My Touch Screen still doesn’t work correctly”.

      At the very least we’ll start demanding Jelly Bean!

    • Steam

      “Google will fix this issue. Then, what will everyone who owns a Nexus device say then??”.
      They’ll say “It’s about damn time.”
      They may say “Nexus” on them, but they’re Samsung’s phones more than they are Google’s, especially the GNex. I’ve never once seen an advertisement that said “Google Galaxy Nexus”, it’s always “Samsung Galaxy Nexus”. I have a GNex and I don’t care for it, in fact, I just use it as a dev phone to play around with ICS, which is buggy as hell. I’m sure yours is perfect, gets 8760 hour battery life, cures cancer, thinks for you and turns into a submarine. But, in the real world, they’re not the “latest and greatest”, regardless of what goes on in your imaginary world, or what the voices in your head tell you. It does have it’s good points, but not enough for me to recommend ICS over GB to people getting their first android device.
      Nexus S owners have absolutely every right to be upset, there are devices coming out with ICS before the Nexus S is getting it. One of the only good points about the Samsung Nexii was that they were supposed to be updated quickly, they’re supposed to be Nexus phones for crying out loud. ICS has been out for months, and the last Nexus still doesn’t have it, for the most part. When 4.1 or 5.0 drops, and your fappity-fapping GNex doesn’t see an update for months, you’ll just make excuses and invent stories why it wasn’t updated. Probably something along the lines of “PEOPLE need TO relax SAMSUNG knows what IS best for IT’S customers and THEY know THAT PEOPLE dont wan’t android 5.0 because IT sucks EGGS. me AND MY GALAXY NEXUS piss ON everything JELLYBEAN isnt the greatest YET BECAUSE its not ON my current PHONE SAMSUNG takes care of me AND MAKES SURE that children laugh AND RAINBOWS FORM”
      Actually, that sounded a little too sane to be you.

  • OnIn2

    The message I am receiving, is Google can’t update my device only the Mfg can.

    So I might as well ignore all things Android for 2 years after I make a purchase. What’s the point of getting excited about ICS or JB. I have to wait another 18 months until I purchase a new cell to see these goodies.

    Strange, I can update my Desktop whenever a new OS update is released.

    The Android Update System for the OS is broken. It’s time for Google to address the problem.

    • professandobey

      The difference is Windows has drivers built in for most every piece of hardware released in the last decade; this makes it close to 20GBs. Android needs to be tuned with specific drivers for the specific hardware of each phone; keeping the size in the hundreds of MBs. Not only would phones with several GBs for the OS be much more expensive, but the OS would be much more slow and inefficient. The Windows (desktop OS) model is not practical on phones.

      • OnIn2

        Yes MS has to do that because there are 1000s of video cards you might install in 100s of motherboards with 1000s of NICs.

        However there are only 100s of Android phones and it’s possible to craft a ROM of each known type. A cell is not (today) able to be customized such that you can replace the radio or GPU creating the issue you state above.

        Funny, I believe the XDA developers create ROMs based on which phone you are going to install it on.

        Compile to a target platform. How hard is that ?

      • DroidSamurai

        But you miss the key of this article — we are talking about Nexus phones only, which, strictly speaking, there are only 3 phones: Nexus One, Nexus S, and Nexus Galaxy. The Nexus One won’t receive ICS, and the Nexus Galaxy launches with ICS, so basically they have only 1 single phone to upgrade.

      • PacoBell

        You don’t seem to know much about Linux kernel development, if you think that way. That’s not how it works. The kernel is modular. You can choose which modules are compiled into the production device. How else do you think embedded Linux gets things done in the first place?

  • jonathan3579

    I’m happy to see people getting off their Nexus high horse. I have owned them all and loved Google’s clarity and support up until my purchase of the Galaxy Nexus. Is the device good? Yes! Is Ice Cream Sandwich all I had hoped? Yes! Both of these seem like ideally good things but they’re actually double-edge swords. The Galaxy Nexus has issues and Ice Cream Sandwich has issues, and Google has done very little to explain if they’re working on it. Buggy leaks just don’t do it for me anymore…

  • westy

    I really think Google needs to do a HUGE investment into the Development and QA department for Android. Android is huge and requires more attention then they are giving it. Google really needs to get more hands on Android and better testing so less buggy software gets out of the gate.

    I have owned all of the Nexus phones and they are always pretty buggy until a few updates later.

    I currently have to deal with slow screen rotation, multi-touch issues, laggy landscape keyboard response and crashes, SMS text bugs, Wifi bugs to name a few. How in the hell did the slow screen rotation and laggy landscape response go unnoticed is beyond me. I noticed it the first day i got the phone. STEP IT UP GOOGLE

  • swazedahustla

    I have never owned a Nexus device, yet every one of them has received the relevent updates. Officially or Unofficially…. So obviously im not missing out on anything.

  • g

    Fragmentation at its finest. Can’t say I’m surprised, and none of you should be either. I’m really sick of the numerous already outdated phones being released, and of course none getting updated. Unfortunately android will continue to succeed despite the blatant disregard for it from every single manufacturer, especially Google. Luckily for google, people are stupid and either a) don’t care about updates or b) blindly accept anything google does as the greatest shit ever. I will be ditching my vibrant (which is running ics miui, yet Samsung claims it can’t run ics) and possibly android altogether in july. Good luck to the suckers that stick around for the octo core gazillion mb ram phone that will be outdated and unsupported as soon as it comes out.

    • ihatefanboys

      Ditch android and go where ? Windows phone ? or worse Iphone. If you think updates are bad now, try apple..they update all the time and nothing changes. they essentially release the same tech every year under a new name, just like the “new ipad”. the commercials for that are hillarious…it only mentions the screen, which maybe is the only thing new on it. Most of your complaints sound like the complaints about the average iphone user too. Difference is google delivers NEW instead of OLD like apple, sometimes it takes time, sometimes the manufacturers get in the way, sometimes the carriers, its not all googles fault.

      Sadly i suspect the only way around the double bottleneck of manufacturers and carriers is for Google to produce their own phones, and make their own phone network……hell theyre getting into Cable TV, why not Cell phones….would be the only way Google can get the updates out without delay…

      • pman

        I am an Android fan and a Nexus S user, but I can say that if there is only one thing to envy about the competitors, it’s they can roll out the update for all supported devices as soon as they announce it. Google can do that and should too

    • Alessandro

      The alternative is going to Windows Phone or iOS, a place where they control everything and I’m a criminal if I try to develop and install custom things on my phone! Oh wait, I have to buy the tools, right… A place where they dictate what I’m allowed to do. If they decide I can only have one browser, I can only have one browser…

      And mind you, I’m 34 years old physician, I don’t have much time to do stuff with my phone, but the few times I did, I really enjoyed and it was worth it. In my time in the university, I took some extra courses in computer science (since I always enjoyed the abilities of programming). To this day, I contribute a bit to open source by releasing an app in the Market, and the source of some apps to a local university repository that I teach medicine in (I developed small/quick apps for medicine class that I teach).

      Most of these are directed to a local interest group, one that would never have a place in App Store’s 99 yearly (besides, I’m not into this to earn money since it’s a small audience anyway) or those draconian ecosystems. Windows flourished because it provided most of the relevant API freedoms while the alternatives were not up to par. It’s really sad to see them copying Apple… I wish them luck for negating their past and copying other people’s models (Apple).

      Android democratized the smartphone. It was a popular revolution, and continues to do so, especially in other countries. I don’t need to talk about Nokia, Samsung, LG et al offers. Windows Phone was quite expensive and clunky enough to all but the tech savvy people. The pen/resistive didn’t help either. Blackberry requires expensive plans to really be any different, and recently teens only bought it for the “yuppie look”. Apple revolutionized the high end market, yes, but left all others in the cold.

      It was devices like the Galaxy Ace, Galaxy 5, Cliq XT, Atrix, Defy and Milestone (some of them with all their problems, I’ve found the Galaxy 5 and Ace and Defy to be quite good for their offers) that enabled the common people to have a cheap smartphone to be always connected. I recently traveled to Africa (I live in Italy, and I just happen to be in Brazil right now for a congress — by the way, nice country) and I was impressed by how they are buying Android phones to be connected. The old tech of SIM/Operator functions was replaced by open standards and open Internet, all providing a thriving platform for the common person/business.

      Is Android perfect? Not at all, and by far. But it’s still the best alternative in my opinion.

      Of course, you’re always free to disagree.

      • Kwest

        “iOS, a place where they control everything and I’m a criminal if I try to develop and install custom things on my phone! Oh wait, I have to buy the tools, right… A place where they dictate what I’m allowed to do. If they decide I can only have one browser, I can only have one browser…”

        A place where they invented the current standards for mobile OS’s, desktop OS’s, smart phones, tablets, legal media distribution, ultra books, etc. Yeah I wouldn’t want to support those guys at all.

    • autonomousgerm

      Do it. You’ll be amazed at what a manufacturer who actually cares about the customer can do. Day one updates, and you’ll forget that you ever had to worry about battery life and bugs that will take 6 months to fix.

  • Donnieace

    I went back to GB on my Nexus S because its just smoother. But the crappy thing now is that the capacitive buttons are beginning to act up.

    I guess what i’m trying to say is that I’m upset with Google for pushing such a buggy upgrade and I’m upset with Samsung for having such cheap internals (that includes the 2 TVs that have died on me a few weeks ago).

    Wanna know whats worse? My OG transformer reboots multiple times and the audio goes out constantly. This has been happening since Asus pushed the ICS update.

    I’m having a shitty experience with my gadgets this year.







  • ihatefanboys

    wow, where are all the “you can just root your phone and get an ICS ROM” people ?? Figured they’d be flooding this board with that BS by now.

    The NEXUS brand should come to an end, its essentially just like buying an iphone…….you pay extra for it, and its no better than anything else out there, or less than anything else out there.

    If it is at an end, and some of you, like the first poster TIM jump ship, see ya !! I love Android, i loved it before NEXUS, i love it now, and ill love Android when NEXUS is long gone…

    • jonathan3579

      The Galaxy Nexus has had the fastest decline in value as far as the Nexus phones are concerned. You can get one right now from Negri for $459. You can find absolute low-end of phones cheaper… I think that kinda says something.

      • ion roof

        Its 429 here in Aus… From a sky high 800 – 900 just 1-2 months ago.

        I don’t think anyone wants it. After these reports, you probably have to pay people to use them :D

      • PacoBell

        Was that the GSM version or just the CDMA ones? I believe that matters.

  • JH

    I have had vanilla ICS on my Nexus S (Europe – GSM) since the update came in december and it’s running perfectly!

  • PhineasJW

    The fact they’ve left their most ardent supporters behind should be a PERSONAL EMBARRASSMENT to Google, and calls into question the entire desirability of the Nexus program.

    If Google doesn’t pick up the ball soon, they’re at risk of the entire blogosphere going thermonuclear on them.

    Whether they like it or not, a Nexus phone is an unwritten contract to receive a pristine Android experience and be first in line for the latest updates.

    I hope the Android team members who read these blogs are getting this message loud and clear.

    • autonomousgerm

      It’s coming. Soon.

  • Jahmon

    Google sure is the worst player in this but the advantages of the Nexus product is also that it’s more oriented toward community developments. ie: easy rooting.

    I hate the fact that there won’t be a ICS for my Nexus One, but I know I can count on the community. Not all owners of phone which came out at the time of the Nexus One can enjoy this !

    • PacoBell

      Now if only the OEMs would release not only kernel source, but also full hardware specs! Then at least some development could be done for future OSes long after the device is EOL’d.

      • Bedwa

        Qualcomm has stepped up on that from a system manufacturer standpoint by releasing GPU ICS binaries for most of their processors. Who would have thought that the tools to give development the ability to give phones like the Aria and Status/ChaCha would have happened. It shocked me.

        • PacoBell

          Nice! Still, though, a binary blob is no replacement for source+documentation. Maybe that’s just the OpenBSD fan in me talking ;)

  • Joel

    Moral of the story – The Nexus is not immune to delays, bugs, and spotty updates, stop treating it as the God of Androids.

  • Ps3y3Ops

    I’m of the opinion that until the GNex came out, the NEXUS program was working and people were happy. I think Google let Verizon get too much of their hands into this one, and let Sammy slide on some of the hardware.

  • Nathan D.

    If Google sucks at what they are so post to do then what the point of getting it if you are going to be disappointed. All I’m saying is that Google needs to clean up their act.

    • Sean Daily

      What’s, “so post to do?”

      • Burnd

        Most likely he meant “supposed”.

        • PacoBell

          Looks like he’s using voice dictation ;)

  • pekosROB

    Loved the post. I’m pretty pissed that my Droid 3 isn’t going to get any official upgrade from Gingerbread to ICS. I figured every phone got at least ONE OS upgrade, even if it comes a year later.

    I didn’t think fragmentation was a big of an issue a year ago, yet ironically it’s been that long since the “we will upgrade ASAP” pledge at I/O and fragmentation is probably the biggest issue Android is facing (if you don’t count lawsuits).

  • Woody

    And here I thought that the original Nexus one owners had to wait a long time for the gingerbread update! I feel real sorry for Nexus S owners who haven’t received the ice cream sandwich update as of yet. Google has really painted itself into a corner with this situation. I disagree with people who say that the Nexus line is a developer line of cell phones. Google and their partners have always marketed the phones to a mainstream audience. All one has to do is go to YouTube and look for ads representing each of the phones and you will see that they were trying to sell them to regular people. That Google cannot push out regular updates to their own flagship line of phones is actually pretty pathetic.

    • PacoBell

      “Google and their partners have always marketed the phones to a mainstream audience.”

      That wasn’t marketing. That was a footnote. Are you seriously suggesting that the N1 was handled well? Heck, I own one and I am under no delusions as such.

  • jamal adam

    This is not the way to be moving forward. They better buckle down and get their act together.

  • Paul Atreides

    This is why I reconsidered going for the Galaxy Nexus being released on Sprint. I’ll most likely root mines, but I’m a little upset about this update debacle. Not just for the Nexus program, the update process as a whole across various devices. I don’t expect for all phones to get updated, but I believe that all high-end devices should be updated simultaneously. Take the time and resources to do it right, just like you’re trying to get carriers to integrate your precious Google voice and NFC thing-a-ma-bob. I’m not going to jump ship over this alone though.

    • PacoBell

      The problem is that what’s right in Google’s eyes and in the carriers’ eyes are sometimes diametrically opposed (i.e. the GV and NFC issues). If they can’t find common ground, then what?

  • George

    Still sticking to my Galaxy Nexus and XOOM, 4.0.1 and 4.0.3 respectively right now. I dunno what’s up with people who bought the Nexus S … to be honest it looked like a crappy phone even before launch. At the time, it was a MILD upgrade to the year-old Nexus One … there was plenty of other stuff on the market.

    I blame Nexus S buyers.

    • Tigress

      Gosh, what a bad attitude.

    • Wayne

      Shut up, George.

      • George

        Nexus S users I see…. s’ok I know one and he’s pissed out of his mind too.

    • PacoBell

      I actually stuck with my Nexus One for that very reason. That was a lot of coin to purchase my N1 off-contract and I sure wasn’t impressed with the new Nexus’ specs enough to jump. So, yeah, the truth hurts.

  • Homncruse

    Clearly we need an Android Update Alliance Update Alliance.

    • Tigress

      Loved this.

  • Esteban

    Yeah, I bought my NS with the promise that it would get first all updates… I still haven’t got ICS. And I believe the Nexus program was Google’s way of fighting back Apple: ONE device at a time, top of the line code, top of the line hardware.

    Somewhere along the way they just stop caring. Even the mighty GN is getting sold now here in Mexico with carrier crap on top of it. It was supposed to be a pristine android experience, free of manufacturer and carrier crap.

    What happened to Google?

    I don’t know if Nexus is coming to an end, but even if it didn’t, I’m really not sure if I’ll get another on the future… I paid a lot more for my NS than, say an Atrix 4G, it costed me almost as much as the SGII at the time (Nexus were very hard to get in Mexico).

    And Google has really failed us, the fanboys, the hardcore Nexus/Google/Android supporters.

    Way to go Google!

  • ishiken

    Does anyone know if this maybe has something to do with them merging the Android Source back into the Linux Kernel Source? It might just be that their engineers are busy on other projects and the ones who are allocated onto the Nexus updates aren’t doing that great of a job. Breakdowns happen with software. iOS was draining batteries with the swiftness for months before Apple’s engineers were able to send out an update patch; the same could be happening for Android. Remember, even though ICS is out, they have probably already started working on Jellybean or whatever 5.0 will be called.

    Give it time and they’ll release an update just like they always have. Christ, you have a Nexus; root that thing and put a custom ICS rom on it (CM9, AOKP, etc.). It’s generally smoother than the “vanilla” version and the custom roms get updated far more often than anything you will get waiting around for a manufacturer or big Goog.

    FYI: I’m still rocking the OG Droid with the Steel Droid Rom, a custom GB rom with all the ICS goodness and none of the bugginess. The Galaxy Tab 10.1 is rocking AOKP and I have no care for a genuine Samsung ICS upgrade. To each his own, but don’t complain when you can do something more constructive about your problem.

  • Lox

    I own a Galaxy Nexus and I am so desapointed about that!

  • Fulaman

    I don’t want to sound like a jerk, and I don’t blame those of you who are mad at Google or other Vendors who take a long time to update their software to the latest version of Android. But personally, Rooting the phone is really fantastic. Once you root, you don’t feel the need/urge to ever go back to Stock ROMS and Kernels.

    • delinear

      That’s fine, but if Google’s view is that rooting is a legitimate route to getting the latest version of Android, it should specifically allow it (and force manufacturers/carriers to allow it). You shouldn’t have to risk voiding the warranty on a device costing hundreds just to be sure of getting timely updates.

      • PacoBell

        To be fair, many roots/S-OFFs are entirely reversible, so that becomes less of an issue.

  • AnthonyRyan

    Of you don’t have a nexus device you don’t get timely update and if you still get a nexus device you still won’t get a timely update wtf Google your starting to piss me off and you OEMS and the Carriers you all piss me off with no timely updates for these Android devices like wtf are you guys smoking saying you will but still nothing -_-

  • Northern Monkey

    The Nexus S was a mistake by Google, wasn’t far enough advanced over the Nexus One and reflected in sales so i don’t think it is a suprising that google aren’t fully supporting it rightly or wrongly.

  • Dr.Carpy

    I’ve always thought and have previously stated that there should be a Nexus level phone through every manufacturer. This would build a high level of competition, also generating a larger pool of phones Google would be responsible for from a software standpoint. As for why Google finds themselves in the predicament they’re currently in, Google suffers from corporate ADD. Let’s update to ICS, but have 60% of phones on an old os in the form of Gingerbread. ICS isn’t working as we hoped, let’s start focusing on Jelly Bean? Let’s start a music service, but not make it global? Sadly it seems like lately, Amazon and Jeff Bezos have out-Googled Google. They done way better with Google’s infrastructure in the last 12-18 months.

  • Jerry

    People ..


    look at all the manufacturers who are “succeeding” .. they are only on that list because they are Tablet manufacturers… Even Cyanogenmod is having trouble..

    ICS is a major overhaul of the Android … and that’s why the Phones are struggling to update … I have a feeling that the Galaxy nexus won’t have the same trouble updating to Jelly bean.. it is what it is .. I have a gingerbread phone that I bought right before the Gnex came out and i”m not dissapointed cause I know that it’s not as easy as you make it out to be. Cyanogen and other rom cookers would have any other Android version running up in no time … but even they are having trouble updating..

    I remember when ICS first came out Cyanogen said it would take 2 months.. I thought that was a long time.. it’s damn near 5 months now and they haven’t had much improvement..

  • txbluesman

    Good article Taylor. Being a Nexus S 4g owner, I wish Google would take care of their own a little better. I all really want to say is……Google, SEND OUT THE DAMN UPDATE ALREADY!!!!!!!!!!!

    Ok, I’m good.

  • KC

    Google is no longer hungry. They are not listening to users, they have grown fat and lazy. They used to be like DELL, many years ago, only DELL shaped up and today they are back amongst the TOP again.

    Time to consider Tizen (formerly Meego) to see if it’s interesting. Or even maybe Mozilla’s OS for mobile. Read that they are developing one.

  • Eric Rossman

    True Google should do something about these issues, but it is really the carriers holding back legacy devices to push the top tier offerings. The incentive has always been money, and this is completely a carrier driven sell. Google only engineers the core OS, the hardware vendors make and integrate + optimize the needed drivers for that OS, and the carriers choose the end user experience. Each carrier locks you into their own revenue-generating odexed apps, because they make almost nothing on the initial sale. And there is no public outcry… The carriers make hand over fist money locking us all into data plans (in many cases they make better than 170% the retail cost of the hardware over the term of your subsidized contract), and then they have the balls to tell you how you can use your overpriced allotment of data. And there is no public outcry… Then they charge you extra to tether your overpriced 3G/4G/LTE data. sheesh ,, no wonder so many people turn to XDA, and the like to fix the user experience.

    Most people who dislike hardware manufacturer UI layers (wiz-sense-blur-etc..), have never experienced the non-carrier-altered version of that UI. I can speak for both HTC sense and Touchwiz, in various iterations. Both are smooth and fast on legacy devices when the carrier crap is stripped out. Again the carriers use slow updates and poorly resourced apps to assure the legacy device(s) will be obsolete.

    Now the carriers have befuddled the Nexus devices too. I do blame Google for letting the carrier money undermine the ideology of Nexus.

    Then I sit back, calm down, and realize that everything works proper on the gingerbread enabled device I have.

    Sometimes I wonder if this OS update issue is also driven by our competition nosing up that “even my 3G iPhone has the newest iOS — blah blah blah”, when we all know that the iOS version has nothing to do with the actual features the iOS legacy devices will get.

    Oh well, thanks for letting me share some of my thoughts and opinions with you all. :)
    -these are truly great times regardless of OS updates :)

  • Matt Yearian

    Last year I would have given anything to get something in the Nexus lineup. Now however, I find myself more excited about the new samsung, HTC and ASUS phones. The GNex for sprint just looks out of date already and who know when it’ll get updates!

  • Anthony

    This is getting out of hand and something needs to be said with all this misinformation and spreading of rumors. Nexus devices arent meant to showcase anything except a stock android experience as well as the newest OS release.

    Hardware wise Nexus devices arent going to have the most high end specs although the CPU in the Gnex was the latest at the time from that line. Google optimizes the software around whatever harsware they choose

  • Bedwa

    I jumped the Nexus train when the NS came out. It was a glorified i9000 with GB. The G-Nex spec wise is similar. The only Nexus with cutting edge specs was the N1. Dev phones NEED to be ahead of the curve, not behind.

    • autonomousgerm

      They only need to be a little bit ahead though. Like it or not Android is a race to the low-end. Google is an advertising company, so they want to get as many devices into hands as possible. That means making plentiful free and cheap low end devices. And that means the dev phone, the Nexus line, actually can’t be too far ahead of the curve.

  • Luis

    when I bought this Nexus S 4g, I thought I was investing in a cool piece of hardware that would have been fully supported. Now it feels like, google and sprint are just dumping on us all. I will be moving on to a new android phone by the summer..

  • Ps3y3Ops

    Glad that Taylor and Android and Me brought this to the surface. Android enthusiasts have known this to be an ongoing issue that seems to always get swept under the rug throughout the blogosphere. Unfortunately, we enthusiasts also know that it will continue to be an ongoing issue. Anyone else just going to hold onto their upgrade until Jellybean?

    • Anthony

      Thats bull Google will update it but thebtime its taking without any word of progress is what most users are complaining about but either way devices are getting 4.0.3 now but you will ne on 4.0.5 soon so relax because as soon as you get the update you’ll want the next and so on and the biggest thing to consider is the handful of apps that havent been updated to support ICS yet.

      • delinear

        I’ve been on ICS since the beginning of December. The number of apps that didn’t support it back then were much greater, that didn’t stop them releasing the GNex with ICS, and it didn’t seriously impact my enjoyment of the phone.

        Seriously, a tiny number of apps that still don’t support ICS (which probably says more about the level of support for the app than anything, considering how long devs have had access to ICS) is not a good reason to withold updates at this point.

    • Paul Atreides

      I’m not going to get in the habit of buying devices just to experience the latest update Android has to offer. I think all of us who are aware of this problem will have to vote with our dollars at some point or raise our voices. Whoever attends Google IO should give them hell about this every chance they get. Can’t allow this to keep being swept under the rug.

      • PacoBell

        You tell ‘em, Muad’Dib!

  • Vinsnob

    GNex updated to 4.0.2 as soon as the phone turned on, and admittedly was buggy – reboots, laggy in the camera, etc. Google recognized this and by the end of the year announced that 4.0.3 would be the “new base version”. So now the manufacturers have something to work with, and they start their own ICS builds to update current phones. Meanwhile, a SIGNED update to 4.0.4 for the CDMA GNex appears in the wild, and after a few weeks of contemplating, I unlocked the bootloader and installed it. A month later, I still love it. Now there is a good source saying 4.0.5 is on the way in April. Nexus owners will always have the latest (possibly limited by hardware capabilities) Google build of Android without the vendors mucking it up with Touchwhiz and Sense. I own a Fascinate (which is now my wife’s), and waiting for updates was painful to say the least. Blame Verizon, blame Samsung, but the fault was certainly not with Google. And after failed OTA updates on the Fascinate and combing the forums for stock ROMs to reflash with, it is quite comforting to have access to the full and unadulterated GNex factory images direct from Google. Are there more Nexus devices in my future – YES.

  • Milan

    I think Google will push 4.0.5 along with Google Drive during the 1st week of April on nexus s and galaxy nexus phones

  • WlfHart

    Definitely a problem… I hope at the very least Google gives up the silent treatment.

  • ds22

    My sisters Nexus S was upgraded to ICS at the beginning of this year (here in Melbourne, Aus). Currently running 4.0.2 on my GNex, which i manually flashed. Someone above mentioned an ungrade to 4.0.5 in a few weeks? First i heard of that, would be great.

  • Cod3rror

    Beta Google.

    What did you expect? All of Google’s products are half finished.

    Android is a fragmented mess. ICS didn’t fix anything.

    It’s also a laggy mess. Not matter dual cores, quad… Android still lags and stutters.

    Inconsistent, inelegant, slow, laggy = Android.

    Enjoy your “freedom”.

    • autonomousgerm

      Despite the downvotes, you are entirely correct. I used to be a huge Android fan, but Google has dropped the ball too many times for too long.

  • Max.Steel

    It’s just a phone, people. Can you call family, friends and colleagues? Yes? Then STFU.

    • delinear

      It’s not just a phone. When was the last time mobile phones were sold on the ability to be able to make calls? Late 80′s/early 90′s? Phones these days are sold as portable computers, people expect them to be able to use the internet, connect to streaming music/video services, play the latest games, run business applications, etc. Just like we expect updates on our desktop/laptop operating systems to fix issues or patch security flaws, we also expect updates on our mobile operating systems. If you bought a smartphone purely for the ability to make phone calls and nothing else then you were ripped off, a cheapo “dumb” phone would have been better.

    • Paul Atreides

      You sir are a cretin. No, it’s not just a phone it’s a smartphone. Big difference do some research. If we just wanted to call people we would get the free feature phones and STFU.

    • autonomousgerm

      Then why is there this extra $30 per month on my bill for this thing called “data”?

  • orangestrat

    I had to send in my Gnex for hardware repairs the mast couple of weeks, so I was back with my nexus S, and honestly, 4.0.3 was pulled from the nexus S for very good reasons. I used “bugless” beast, cm9, AOKP and they all were pretty rough. Google took awhile to update the nexus one to gingerbread because before 2.3.3, gingerbread was a giant pain in the ass. The GS2 and sensation all got 4.0.3 before the nexus S, but when 4.0.4, 5,6,7,8 and 9 come out, they’ll be better and have fewer bugs, and the nexus S will get them right away while the sensation will never see another update. Be patient, if Google hadn’t pulled the update everyone would be complaining about what a giant mess 4.0.3 is. Nexus envy is going to go nowhere. Google is giving you the best version, not the latest. Any Nexus One owners in the crowd want to talk about how rad it was to get timely updates once they’d been debugged and tested on nexus S users?

  • sgb101

    i dont get exited for the nexus as i root and rom, so i dont wait for the official updates.

    i tend to follow the devices the dev community is using/getting excited about, i trust them more than google or any of the manufacturers.

    • PacoBell

      XDA fights for the user!

  • 94wolfpack

    Boom and just like that 4.0.4 on my Tmo nexus s

  • MoSDeeb

    My android buying experience involves only buying the Google Nexus devices each year. I unlocked each device just cyanogenmod. If the Nexus brand becomes degraded then I’m not sure what I would choose going forward. Vanilla devices do not come around if at all with the exception of tmobile. Although the G2x was a huge disappointment.

  • teecruz

    All this whining is annoying. Bunch of big babies with outdated toys it what it is to me ..
    You know nothing of inconsistent updates until you’ve been on T-Mobile!
    I owned a Sidekick (which was decently almost high end) and it never received the possible good treatmeant you would get a Nexus S

    I’m telling you .. stop complaining! Or GET A GALAXY NEXUS

    • Max.Steel

      I have a G2 and still stuck on Gingerbread. I do have root and have flashed ICS but it was just to buggy that I went back to GB. People need to stop being so stuck up. If ICS was as buggy on the Nexus S as reports indicate then they should just learn to be patient.

    • autonomousgerm

      Yeah, get a Galaxy Nexus, until they abandon that shit too. Then everyone will say, “stop whining, don’t blame Google, just buy the Galaxy Nexus II, it’s only $800. I know Google promised you timely updates on that $800 phone less than a year ago, but don’t complain, just give them the money….Apple sucks!”

  • mickjen

    So what do we do?

    As a Nexus S 4G owner, who just bought her phone in November, contact Sprint? Demand the update? Demand an upgrade to the Galaxy Nexus at no cost?

    • mickjen

      I’m going to demand a free upgrade to the LTE Galaxy Nexus when it launches. I guarantee I will still not have a debugged, OTA ICS update by then.

      Sprint is abandoning their WiMAx coverage (and phones!) and I want a REAL 4G phone that simply sends emails correctly and can make a single full-length call.

      There are SO many issues with the 2.3 CMDA version I can’t even start….

  • Alex

    As sad as this is, I have a Tmobile Nexus S and with the way Google is going about their flagship devices, im considering getting an iPhone, unlocking it and using it with Edge on Tmobile.

    • 94wolfpack

      Alex, The TMO Nexus S began receiving an updated to Android 4.0.4 this morning. A couple of posts above this Mercado links to the XDA forums where you can update to this rom manually.

  • Marcus

    I think Google should announce the updates when the manufacturers and carriers are ready to release them. Then, when they announce it, the updates are ready to go, and everyone gets it on time. It may take a little while longer, but at least that gives even more time for the manufacturers to work out the bugs and such.

    • PacoBell

      That would be unfair to the AOSP developers. No, just because the OEMs can’t get their act together faster than independent volunteers (i.e. CyanogenMod), we shouldn’t penalize those doing that work.

  • DroidSamurai

    Come to think about it, we shouldn’t give such a bad time to the OEM anymore regarding upgrade schedule. Man, these guys have a dozen of devices to deal with (that’s their own fault to begin with, of course.) On top of that, those devices all have different spec (another example of their own fault.) Google, on the other hand, only had to deal with 3 phone — THREE!

  • pauler

    Calm. Down.

  • ken




    ID CARD: