Android Central

Dear, Molly Wood. How's it going? Couldn't help but notice your latest rant about Android. (We've had a few ourselves.) And while we, being the biggest and best Android community, well, anywhere, think it's swell you've been giving Android a go (especially as other platforms have been wooing you), we need to clear a few things up here, particularly regarding this whole "fragmentation" thing that's got you down.

Let's everybody hold hands and hit that little "Read more" link below, shall we?

Hey, great. You're back. So here's the thing. We get the feeling you want to love Android. And you know what? You can. It's really not that hard. Problem is, you're looking for problems while at the same time being hit by some that really aren't the fault of Android as a platform..

First things first:

What kind of smartphone user are you?

There are three kinds of smartphone owners in this world: nerds, would-be nerds, and what I lovingly call "civilians."

Phone NerdLet's start with the first group: The nerds (and that's probably a good 40 percent of the people who read this site, at least) want to hack their phones. They need to hack their phones. Can't help it, even. That's awesome. We love that. (Especially in the forums.) But there's also a certain amount of responsibility that comes along with hacking your phone so that you can have the latest and greatest ROM, whether it's the pinnacle of the Android Open Source Project -- CyanogenMod -- or a derivative, or something else altogether. If you're not willing to accept that responsibility, move on.

The second group -- would-be nerds -- like to tinker a little. Maybe root their phones to use certain apps, but not apply custom ROMs. That's a slippery slope. And you know what? Not everybody should root their phone. Again. Don't want to step up? No worries. Next paragraph.

And the last group. "Civilians." That's most everybody out there, who just want to rock Android because it's the hot OS and has a crapload of apps. And they're right for doing so. Android has a crapload of apps, and freedom that the iPhone doesn't. Now that the iPhone's on three of the four major U.S. carriers, it's certainly a more attractive offer, no doubt. I've chatted in airports with Sprint loyalists who refused to switch carriers. Sprint's likely just saved itself some serious churn for Q4.

There's actually a fourth group here. And it doesn't apply to many people. There are those of us who have to straddle these lines. Journalists. Techies, if you will. Maybe we want to use Android because it's the hot OS. Or maybe because we love the openy ecosystem. Or maybe we have to try different operating systems so we can speak intelligently about them. We need to know about rooting and ROMs, but we need to keep up with official updates, too. It's a real pain, unless you own two of everything.

But here's something that's no great secret -- even yours truly doesn't need root access in his personal life. I'm more in the "civilian" group in actual use than not. One reason is because most of our readers just want to make the most of their phones without the hassle. Rooting is awesome. Custom ROMs are awesome. But if you don't have the time to keep up with it all for the sake of being on the bleeding edge, we'd suggest sticking to the latter group. There's absolutely nothing wrong with that.

Now that we've go that established ...

What exactly do you want?

Name five features you want in Gingerbread that aren't in Froyo. Now make sure they're actually a part of the Gingerbread operating system, and not a carrier/manufacturer customization such as Sense or Philblur Motoblur.

Android CentralIf you're looking for some monumental leap in Gingerbread, you're likely going to be disappointed. Unless you're really going feature-by-feature and are looking for something other than a black notification bar, you're going to be disappointed. Gingerbread was mainly behind-the-scenes tweaks. That's not to say it's not a sexy red herring, or that it's not important in the long run, but it's a big albatross nonetheless in the short-term.

First and foremost in Gingerbread, we'd say, is the newer, darker UI. It's new. It's sexy. It's not a huge deal, though. And you know what? A lot of us prefer third-party launchers to even the stock AOSP Android launcher.

There's a new keyboard. Know what? It sucks compared to just about anything else out there. Swype and Swiftkey rule the land, and Motorola's own multitouch keyboard is better.

There's native front-facing camera support. Sweet. For the front-facing video chat that barely exists, never mind the Apple commercials that have since died out. If you're way into GTalk or Skype on a regular basis, then this is a big deal. But, even with Facetime on iOS, it's still niche.

Need copy/paste throughout the OS and not just in apps that have implemented it? OK. You've got that, too. A big improvement, yes. But not a deal-breaker.

And there's a ton of other back-end improvements that most of us likely didn't know of (unless you read the highlights, we suppose. Native graphics management and open API for native audio, anyone?). Point is, the bulk of improvements in Gingerbread are under the hood. Important fixes, but explaining them all to our mothers has taken some time.

Fun with infographics

Now, let's look at those charts from Android and Me. They sure are pretty. But, first off, they're nearly two months old now. And months in Android when you're citing stats are more like years, ya know? Secondly, reporting version stats by manufacturer alone is disingenuous in the first place and makes it appear that the manufacturer acts alone in updating the device. And as we all know, in the United States, that's simply not the case. Manufacturers and carriers work in tandem here. Sometimes it's the carrier that's the gatekeeper, other times it's the manufacturer. And carriers have long been known to delay updates for any number of reasons. Others have been known to release updates and then yank them within days (or even hours) because something was borked. And, moreover, it doesn't show which phones are intended to be updated.

Android Central Here's a point we've written about before, but needs to be reiterated here: Not every phone released with Froyo is going to get Gingerbread. They're not all worth the time and effort (and money) it takes to update. That's just the honest truth of how this little business works. Painful, yeah. But it's the way it is when you're dealing with this many devices on a single platform, and allow carriers to customize the crap out of them. (Anyone who thinks different must not have sat through years of Windows Mobile.) So when you lump everything together by manufacturer, you fail to take into account that not all Android smartphones are created equal, and not all carriers upgrade equally. That's something that needs to be understood.

No matter. We like looking ahead, not behind. And seeing as how you're threatening to buy an iPhone 4S, we can assume you're in the market. So let's look at how things stand today as far as your ability to buy a Gingerbread device. We took a look at the current carrier lineups -- as in, phones you can buy today. Let's see how "fragmented" things really are.

Sprint's current lineup, per its website, as of Oct. 15, 2011:

 
Launched with Upgraded to Gingerbread?
LG Optimus S
Froyo
Updated, but update pulled
HTC EVO 4G
Eclair
Updated
Nexus S 4G
Gingerbread
--
HTC EVO 3D
Gingerbread
--
Samsung Epic 4G Touch
Gingerbread
--
Samsung Replenish
Froyo
Doubtful
Motorola Photon 4G
Gingerbread
--
Samsung Epic 4G
Froyo
Expected
Samsung Conquer 4G
Gingerbread
--
Kyocera Milano
Gingerbread
--
Samsung Transform
Froyo
Doubtful
LG Marquee
Gingerbread
--
Motorola XPRT
Froyo
Expected
Motorola Titanium
Eclair
It's an iDEN phone. Don't expect it.

By our math, that's eight phones of the 14 on Sprint's website that are currently running Gingerbread, with the Optimus S and Epic 4G in the on-deck circle. (Albeit an extended on-deck circle.) Note that the Kyocera Echo, a Froyo device launched earlier in the year, is not listed anymore on Sprint's site.

AT&T's current lineup, per its website, as of Oct. 15, 2011

 
Launched with Upgraded to Gingerbread?
Pantech Crossover
Froyo
Expected
Sharp FX Plus
Froyo
Doubtful
Huawei Impulse 4G
Froyo
Expected
LG Phoenix
Froyo
Expected
Sony Ericsson Xperia Play
Gingerbread
--
HTC Status
Gingerbread
--
Samsung Captivate
Froyo
Expected
HTC Inspire 4G
Froyo
Updated
Samsung Infuse 4G
Froyo
Expected
LG Thrill 4G
Froyo
Possible
Motorola Atrix 4G
Froyo
Updated
Samsung Galaxy S II
Gingerbread
--

Couple of outliers here: The Samsung Nexus S is finally available on AT&T -- with Gingerbread, of course -- but not on AT&T's website. Conversely, refurbished Sony Ericsson Xperia X10s are available on AT&T's website. We'll call that a wash. But do remember that AT&T went out on a limb and announced that every postpaid Android smartphone released in 2011 would get Gingerbread. (And note that the Motorola Atrix 2, Pantech Pocket, Captivate Glide and ZTE Avail were just announced with Gingerbread; the Samsung DoubleTime was announced with Froyo. None is yet available.)

T-Mobile's current lineup, per its website, as of Oct. 15, 2011:

 
Launched with Upgraded to Gingerbread?
Samsung Gravity Smart
Froyo
Doubtful
HTC Wildfire S
Gingerbread
--
LG Optimus T
Froyo
Expected
Samsung Dart
Froyo
Doubtful
T-Mobile Comet (Huawei)
Froyo
Doubtful
Samsung Exhibit 4G
Gingerbread
--
LG Optimus T
Froyo
Expected
myTouch 3G Slide (HTC)
Eclair
Doubtful - did get Froyo
Sidekick 4G (Sharp)
Froyo
Doubtful
T-Mobile G2X (LG)
Froyo
Updated
Samsung Galaxy S 4G
Froyo
Doubtful
Motorola Cliq 2
Froyo
Doubtful
HTC Sensation 4G
Gingerbread
--
Samsung Galaxy S II
Gingerbread
--
HTC Amaze 4G
Gingerbread
--
myTouch Q (LG)
Gingerbread
--
myTouch (LG)
Gingerbread
--

Holy crap, T-Mobile's got a lot of phones left on its site. Really, nothing you wouldn't expect here. Some of the older phones like the Galaxy S 4G should have gotten Gingerbread, but for whatever reason are languishing. And T-Mobile appears to have more lower-end phones than the other carriers, and it's not surprising they're not being updated.

Verizon's current lineup, per its website, as of Oct. 15, 2011:

 
Launched with Upgraded to Gingerbread?
Samsung Stratosphere
Gingerbread
--
HTC Rhyme
Gingerbread
--
Motorola Droid Bionic
Gingerbread
--
Pantech Breakout
Gingerbread
--
LG Enlighten
Gingerbread
--
Motorola Droid 3
Gingerbread
--
Samsung Droid Charge
Froyo
Expected
LG Revolution
Froyo
Expected
Sony Ericsson Xperia Play
Gingerbread
--
Motorola Droid X2
Froyo
Updated
HTC Droid Incredible 2
Froyo
Updated
HTC ThunderBolt
Froyo
Updated, but update pulled
Casio G'zOne Commando
Froyo
Updated
Motorola Droid Pro
Froyo
Updated
Samsung Continuum
Froyo
Doubtful
LG Vortex
Froyo
Expected

Verizon's probably the most impressive carrier of the group here. We were a little surprised to see the Samsung Continuum still available, while the Fascinate (its original Galaxy S) is available online as a refurb only, and thus didn't make our list. But it has gotten its Gingerbread update.

The Android Update Alliance

This one's actually pretty easy. So back at Google IO in May 2011, the Android team announced the Android Update Alliance. Announced. They didn't say "We've totally got things rolling and look for changes ASAP." No, they announced a group of partners, and that was about it at the time.

Calling the Alliance out on the carpet in August -- just three months later -- and assuming, as the author of the flawed infographics did, that the newly formed Alliance had anything to do with upgrades that were rolling out at the time shows a pretty severe lack of understanding of the lifecycle and updating of a smartphone. Things just don't work that quickly.

In other words, the Android Update Alliance, announced in May, had nothing to do with updates between May and August. They were coming anyway. If it truly affects updates in 2012, we'd be pleasantly surprised. It's a long-term project, for future-generation devices. We're still only five months out of that announcement.

Worldwide, 84 percent of all Android devices are either Gingerbread or Froyo. And the scales are always tipping in favor of the newer versions. We certainly agree that the upgrade process takes carriers and manufacturers too long. Actually, let's flip that. Android is evolving faster than the manufacturers and carriers can keep up with.

Here's your real issue, Molly ...

Those are a whole lot of numbers. But they're not even the point. It really comes down to what kind of user you are. Do you have to have the latest and greatest Android operating system because you simply must have it? Hell, I write about Android for a living and travel quite a bit, living through these phones (and a laptop, of course), and the Froyo devices serve me just fine. But that's also the point. Froyo can still serve me just fine. Your needs might be different. Or maybe you just want the update because you think you have to have the latest update. That's fine. But it's also asking for heartburn.

Droid X Here's what really happened: You got a bum deal with the Droid X. You had to wait for Gingerbread -- never mind that that the phone was released months before Gingerbread was announced, and phones didn't really start seeing Gingerbread updates until the early spring anyway. (These things do take time.) And when you did get the update, it didn't behave well. Welcome to the wonderful world of Motoblur, folks. In fact, most of the issues you cite have to do with Motorola, not Android. And there's a big difference there. We believe a hard-reset is in order. Should cure what ails ya.

And if you really do want to stick with Android without the hassles, get a Nexus phone. Pure and simple.

Is Android fragmented? Yep. That tends to happen to embedded operating systems like this. But those numbers you see above aren't the true fragmentation. That crown goes to the likes of Barnes & Noble and Amazon, with their highly customized, outside-the-Google-ecosystem devices. And to the Motorolas and HTCs and Samsungs and other manufacturers who customize Android. That's not to say these customizations can't be great and useful. On the contrary. But they lock us into their upgrade cycle, with their headaches. That's not Android's fault. It's a side-effect, and it's avoidable. (See the previous paragraph, and the one after the video below.)

What you're referring to is what's referred to as "legacy," not fragmentation. There's a difference.


Youtube link for mobile viewing

If you need a phone that you know will have the latest and greatest updates, get a Nexus phone. It's a developer phone that will get the updates first. If you've got to go with a more mainstream phone but still want to be on the bleeding edge -- and are willing to accept the responsibility that goes with that -- then by all means, root and install a custom ROM. Want Android 2.3.7? (That's the latest version of Gingerbread.) There's only one way to get it at the time of this writing -- an AOSP build like CyanogenMod. Not the carriers. Not the manufacturers. But you know this. You've written this.

Google is constantly updating the Android code. Anyone can go get it. Problem is the smartphone ship, to use our favorite metaphor, is a big one to steer. Or, rather, it's dozens and dozens of little ships that have to be steered together. An Android flotilla, if you will. Google's got an interesting relationship with the carriers and manufacturers, that's for sure. We can't tell if it's an admiral, leading the fleet, or more of a coxswain, with the rowers too often working against each other, each trying to row fastest.

We love ya, Molly. But Android itself is not the problem here. It can, however, be the solution.

 
There are 97 comments

WallaceD says:

Well said, Phil. Nicely done.

frankiegth says:

I think CNET has gone wild lately...all they write is about I IFriggingPhone....that's why I had to remove the CNET app from my phone..this is couple of days before Molly's article...she has no fucking idea what she is talking about.....you can pick any phone on any size on Android and customize it the way you want...but looks like CNET is on Apples payroll...

mustangboy88 says:

Why isn't the iPhone 4S getting Siri not considered fragmentation from the original iPhone 4? Just because they both run iOS 5? That's BS! Same thing with any of the other updates that came out for iPhones or iPod Touchs that could get a partial update, while the slightly next step up got a fully integrated update. I remember when apps and games were coming out that my iPod Touch could no longer support because of lack of iOS update.

jakeroot says:

Mainly, it's performance that keeps it from being fully integrated, I would expect. That could likely be the main issue with fragmentation on Android as well. As for Siri? There has to be some reason to get the iPhone 4S. And I remember a video on Engadget of Siri running on a 4. The performance was shit. Then again, he uploaded another video of it running great. In either case, I must reiterate, there must be a reason to get a new phone, but me being like a bootloop in a way, that could also be the cause for Android fragmentation.

Lol, I love CNET and Molly Wood, and for that matter, Brian Cooley is freakin' hilarious, but sometimes they are a bit biased, ebing so close to Cupertino, that is...

evobb100 says:

WallaceD. I agree with you. I twitted them a lot of times. May be they are working for apple advertising
I hate their reviews and phone fighting comparison.
Hope they will stop smart phones comparisons

wbonnefond says:

Under the "what exactly do you want" you said swype when I think you meant skype. Just pointing it out.

Glorishan says:

No, he definitely meant swype. He was talking about keyboards, and swype/swiftkey do rule the land.

I only see Swype mentioned in the paragraph about keyboards?

http://www.swype.com/

Try it. It's a really cool approach. I just recently put it back on my Evo. I can't remember why I stopped using it before.

SoTacMatt says:

Wonderfully written! I was steaming when I read her article and all the arrogant reponses as well. So many "I just need it to work comments."

I've been with Android since the G1 came out. For me it has always worked, and with CyanogenMod, it just works better!

Again - well done Phil!!!

Wicell says:

I too have been with Android since the G1 and was absolutely flustered reading her article, you can actually see my comment under the same username if you scroll through her comments.

I actually haven't paid attention to CNET for a hile, but when an article comes out bashing Android based on - as Phil put it "civilian" - knowledge clearly lacking the right insight to Android... It's time to go to work and SAY IT WITH YO' CHEST.

I see some bugs every now and then, I may even hard reset every now and then. But that is NOT an absolute turn away from Android, that just means there is room for improvement and that improvement will come! And it sure doesn't take 16 months for it either.

p4trickh#IM says:

I sometimes listen to BOL (the show Molly is on) but lately it's really hard because her and a few others simply have no idea what they are talking about. They are more journalist than tech which to me is annoying because it usually leads to them talking out of their ass. It's crazy how many times I'll shake my head and think "WTF ARE THEY TALKING ABOUT???" because it's usually flat wrong.

dtshakuras says:

Yea I read her article on CNET last night, full of crap. She has a DX. I have a rooted DX and it is awesome. Certain things like Google Navigate and Wireless Tether (for rooted phones) are free and which Apple users wished they could have. I've also used it non rooted. I used Froyo for a long time before upgrading to GB and Froyo by itself was awesome. DX > Iphone 4. The DX is a old phone by Android standards since there is a constant release of newer Android phones and there are other Android phones besides the Galaxy SII that easily surpasses the iPhone 4S in overall value and performance. By the way, 'fragmentation' is a bunch of overblown bull. Why should it matter if other phone companies run different versions of Android as long as your version works well and do what you need it to do? At least Google isn't like Apple which intentionally nerfs their older phones with iOS updates to make people update. At the end of the day she's basically saying the grass is greener on the other side

I've listened to BOL and Molly for years, so naturally this article caught my eye. I understand and sympathize with Molly to an extent. But this very well written article reminded me that I'm in a relatively small percentage of Android users that want latest and greatest without having to root. With that in mind sticking to the Nexus line is the way to go. My wife has an older Android that is barely on Froyo...... And she could care less. It does exactly what she wants, albeit a little slower. I like to be a little more nerdtacular.

My one comment about the perceived fragmentation is with app development. Having a variety of Android versions and hardware options on the active field does produce a challenge with devs that seems to trickle down to users. It's not the devs fault, but in my opinion a more streamlined environment would help the end user experience with regard to application stability and performance.

Quasar says:

I'm like you. I always want to have the newest version of Android without rooting my phone. That's why I'm still happily using my N1 and hoping the new Nexus comes to T-Mobile or Sprint at the very least (Nexus S wasn't a big enough hardware upgrade.).

However, most people I know with an Android phone don't even know what version of Android they have. Even with the older versions of Android, their phone does more than what they use if for anyway. If they happen to be using a device with something newer like Gingerbread, I hear things like, "Oh wow, I didn't know it could do that!" after I show them what it can do. Even once they know, it hardly ever gets used because they don't need it from day to day. Over time, as more devices incorporate the features, that will probably change (cameras for video chat, NFC for payments and data transfer, HD connections to TVs...) but at this point in time, most people I know don't even notice fragmentation.

dchawk81 says:

She has some valid points though.

Johnly says:

"freedom" is "freedom." We all have that no matter the OS we rock. Freedom is used in the article, referring to apps. There is no referee at the gate. Anyone can freely place an app in the market. The term fragmentation applies to a subset of android devices. It is no doubt a mess, and plenty apps wont run on "ALL" devices.

I love android, and I won't spin it into a "controlled Eco-system" where everything is "optimized," because it isn't. From screens to hardware to skins to OS version. This also allows android into the hands of everyone. Free phone? Yes, with android there are plenty. Apple has a distinct advantage with "optimization." I think ICS will give Google some unity will the nexus brand, but the app gate is still wide opened.

ckalantzis says:

Its funny how no one talks about iPhone Fragmentation. The iPhone 4S has Siri, the iPhone 4 does not. The 3GS which will now be available for free on a new contract (from some carriers) will be missing even more features...(search Google for the missing features).

That sounds like fragmentation to me! And that's from just one company. Even their iPads have fragmentation. The iPad 2 has the new hand gestures and the iPad 1 does not.

I love Molly as much as the next tech enthusiast, and i used to listen to BOL all the time, but lets face it, when your blog is called "rants", your basically looking for things to complain about.

lpt2569 says:

She does have some valid points...Androis IS fragmented and buggy. And I feel the same way she does when she says "Motorola hardware fails fast and hard, although it's not quite as awful as the crapware-laden Samsung Fascinate Verizon foisted on me--the only phone I did root, just to escape having Bing as my default search." And Phil, since when did the Samsung Fascinate get Gingerbread? As far as I can tell, my Fassy will be on Froyo forever.

pug_ster says:

I have to agree with you even if most people don't. My first android phone is an cliq xt and I was extremely disappointed when this motoblured phone is stuck on 1.5. But thanks to cyanogenmod, it supports the latest cyanogenmod. My next phone, samsung vibrant fared a little better but it is stuck on 2.2 unless you use miui or cyanogenmod.

The thing is that phone manufacturers can do better, can help out the open source community to allow people to create their 3rd party firmware. The biggest offenders are motorola and samsung. One shining example of this about face principle is sony erisson. Their phones used to suck, but at least they provided their expertise and then more than 10 phones are supported by Cyanogen overnight.

I understand phone manufacturers probably stopped creating updates the phones 6 months after it is sold (and some even less) because they want to develop the next product. But google should start telling the phone manufacturers to release technical information about phones to geeks who wants to create 3rd party firmware for their phones because most people will be using the phones for more than than 6 months.

czeph says:

Very well written! It would be great if more than fans of Android read it. By the way - nerd and proud! Droid X with ICX and loving it!!!

soldierblade says:

I dearly hope Molly reads your post Phil, but I doubt it'll make much difference in her opinion. I've been listening to Buzz out Loud for a long time and have grown more and more frustrated with every episode where she goes on a rant about this or that being janky about android and sites her bummed out DX1 with its stock gingerblur as an example only to have Brian Tong (co-host of BOL & former Apple employee) push her farther into the Apple camp. As a DX user, I find myself yelling back to the podcast (rediculously) "just install CM7 damn it". I can sort of understand how someone could make the excuse that it "takes too much time" or "I don't understand how to do it", but of all the F'n android phones to have, how much quicker and easier to root and rom the damn thing does it need to be? One click root, install rom manager pro, set the 2nd init cwm recovery, and just wipe/flash the latest nightly. IT LITERALLY TAKES LESS THAN AN HOUR MOLLY. She's always been one of my favorite tech blogger/podcasters until all this crap, because she seemed to have an anti-apple fangirl attitude and she rocked the same phone as I did. Iirc, she even had the OG droid before the DX and so did I. Let's be honest here, practically NOBODY buys motorolla for their custom (philblur) framework. We all bought moto for the awesome hardware and build quality. Why not make the effort to just install CM and enjoy one of the great freedoms that having android affords, custom blazing fast and stable roms, while continuing to enjoy the hardware? Well in the latest BOL episode aparently even that isn't good enough. Molly makes some claim about her screen degrading and lambasts motorola build quality because of it. Excuse me, but what in the hell are you doing to your gorilla glass panel to make that shit degrade? Smells like someone is making irrational claims based on an already irrational disdain for a perfectly good device and OS that just has a messed up OEM built framework (yeah I said framework not skin, get that right). Maybe Molly should just follow on into the sheeple line with Mr. Tong holding her hand straight to the Apple store and get her iNerf. At least we still have Leo and half the Twit crew to champion our Android device love. Uncle Leo has a G2X with CM7 nightlies and gives the straight pros and cons of it all.

dchawk81 says:

It's easy for you because you figured out how to do it and I presume more than once. Flashing ROMs and rooting didn't become fast for me until after I had done it a couple times.

Obviously she doesn't want to go through all that, and quite frankly i don't blame her. I'm not getting an iPhone but I am OVER this whole flashing thing.

It was fun while it lasted but now I just want my phone to do what it's supposed to do. I don't want to mess with it anymore.

You shouldn't have to seek out and learn to flash a ROM to have a good phone.

That's kind of the whole point of the android vs. iOS debate.

I absolutely love android and I will be the first one to say that if you are lazy and complacent when it comes to technology, you really should just go get an iphone. The iphone is designed to be so simple to operate that even children and your technophobic mother can use it. It appeals to the lowest common denominator. As iphone fanboys like to say, "it just works."

That being said, if you actually use your phone as a tool and not just a device to play angry birds on, the customization and utility of the android operating system is unmatched. As someone put it to me the other day its the question of "do you want your phone to tell you how to use it or do you want to decide how you use your phone yourself?". Granted, this does not come without a little heartache. I've flashed some really crappy roms before. I have also flashed some truly amazing and innovative roms that have allowed me to do things with my phone that I never thought possible. Even if you don't want to root your phone, there are infinitely more ways to personalize your phone for utility or for fun than on an iOS product.

I'm sorry if this comes off as condescending towards iphone enthusiasts, but you really should consider how you use your own phone before talking smack about android? Do you want to live in a closed ecosystem ensuring safety but limiting innovation, or do you want to have the freedom, and more importantly the support, to push the limits of what a mobile device can do? I know my answer...

lpt2569 says:

Wrong. Your comments are totally condescending. I'm not lazy or complacent, I am rather tech savy, fairly intelligent, but I don't want to constantly wonder if my $200 plus device will work properly every day that costs me and my family nearly two grand a year for service. When I buy a laptop, I don't have to do anything with it other than allow updates to push to it, and it works perfectly. I paid $1500 for it a couple years ago, haven't done anything to it since, haven't paid another dime for it (other than internet service) and it works like a champ. Money speaks louder than anything else, and my money is dear to me, and if I (or anyone else) want to spend it on an iPhone, iPod, iPad, or any Android device, who are you to tell me I'm anything other than a smart consumer? Wouldn't you actually love to have an Android device that"just works", plus have the customization too? Why do the two have to be mutually exclusive?

bish0p34 says:

They're not. Android devices can "just work". My Samsung Captivate does. Ok, I'm rooted and running a custom ROM. But removing my carrier's junk has made the phone a whole new animal. That's a major advantage of iOS (in my opinion), is that they don't let the carrier pollute the functionality of the phone with their crap on it. So, if putting an hour of my time frees me of the burdens of iTunes...so be it. I'm crafty like that.

I should state though that I got my iPhone 4 on launch day. Just so I can't be accused of being a Phandroid. I find my Samsung to be a better performer (my i4 has already been replaced once). I love the iPhone just as much as I love the Samsung, they both have strengths and weaknesses. I find that an untainted Android runs as smoothly as iOS, and have an equal, if not more on the iPhone, amount of lag and crash experiences.

I like my Android rooted, and mYI jailbroken.

Also, when people ask me about what phone to get...I assess them, and steer less-motivated people who don't want to think towards Apple. Not that everyone who has one can't think, but I feel they really are aimed at the LCD. That's awesome too. That was Steve Job's real brilliance IMHO...a simple product that a simple person can use. And we'll charge a lot of money for it!

lpt2569 says:

Do you honestly think that Android/Google/Developers are not working as hard as they can to develop a better/more stable/highly customizable OS? Of course they are, that's why there is so much consumer anticipation for Ice Cream Sandwich. EVERYONE wants a better experience with their devices, and anyone who says they don't are full of crap. And why do you have to lower yourself to juvenile statements by calling some folks who decide to buy an iPhone people who "don't want to think"? So when you bought yours, were you an iSheep who can't think for himself? And rooted Android devices are not problem free...just spend a little time reading the forums here on AC, you'll find plenty of problems with rooted devices. I really don't understand why people hate so much when folks are making their own personal decisions about how to spend their own money on a piece of technology. It's all completely, 100% subjective, there is no right and wrong.

cooperblac says:

"It appeals to the lowest common denominator." F you and the horse you rode in on. If this is how you really see people who carry an iPhone.. you are truly a douche.

soup says:

"It appeals to the lowest common denominator." is not an insult. it means that it satisfies the needs of the largest user group. It is certainly not an insult to anybody who uses an iphone. The iphone is a very nice tool, my 7 year old daughter can use it, as well as my 72 year old father who struggles with anything tech. I, myself just prefer to use something which I have more options to control and modify.

cooperblac says:

I agree with you %100 percent. I don't plan on running out and grabbing an iPhone but I don't want or care to root my phone. It is what it is.

jaykingofgay says:

Part of the issue I see here is the information age we live in. Honestly, sometimes I go all week or even 2 weeks without reading anything about android. It's healthy.

But we live in a society that when the update is released NOW people want it NOW. They don't know, or even care what it can do, they just want it NOW because they know it's out NOW.

I get a windows update every month (sometimes it seems like every week) and the updates that actually fix anything (that I'm aware of) or add new features are very few and very far between.

These people that flip out of this tablet having Gingerbread (as opposed to Honeycomb)or this phone only having Froyo --I want to grab them, shake them very hard and yell in their face "DOES THE DEVICE WORK OR NOT???!"

Because if the device works, if it accomplishes the tasks they need it to accomplish, then it's just fine as it is. People need to calm the F*** down and stop being such spoiled brats. You do not have to be surrounded by new and shiny, that's the reason people go into debt. That's a symptom of our rampant, soul-crushing, materialism. "Must have new and shiny! Must!"

If the device does NOT do what they bought it to do, then yes, by all means, return it and get what works for you. But buying something with the expectation (unvoiced, of course) that they will receive as many updates as they want as soon as they want them is completely, childishly, unrealistic and impossible.

You're in a neat place, AC.com. You provide the information that fuels that hoarders-like panic for new and shiny, but if you didn't keep people up to date you wouldn't have a business. It's almost like you need to close every story that's about a new release of android with "and if you're phone doesn't get it, Jesus still loves you, and you're still a good person." Or something.

In all likelyhood, if these folks didn't keep up with when the updates were released, if they just went about their day, did their things, talked to their friends, went on dates, watched TV, and just lived their lives until the contract was up ---they'd be JUST FINE. They'd probably be much happier, and they'd definitely be pleased with their phones.
I'm not getting a new phone until next year. My Evo is just fine. By the time I'm eligible for an upgrade, jellybean, or kettlecorn, or lollypop will be the new thing everyone is foaming at the mouth about, and I'll worry about what kind of phone I want then. Probably the Nexus Omega Supreme.

Nirvana328 says:

"It's almost like you need to close every story that's about a new release of android with "and if you're phone doesn't get it, Jesus still loves you, and you're still a good person."

That's an interesting point that I want to add to. It's AC's job to report the news. How nerds, consumers, journalists and the public interpret that and react to it has nothing to do with them assuming they are objective and don't publish sensationalism/fud (like some online tech sites that shall remain nameless).

Luckily for us, AC are not only objective and thorough, they are nice enough to also address all the FUD, exaggeration, and fanboyism/hate with editorials and posts like this that not only report the news but help us interpret it in an objective light.

There will always be Molly Woods like "journalists" and fanyboys and haters, but luckily we have great sites like AC to cut through the bias and emotion to give us the real truth. Thanks AC, this is why you're the best site out there.

MattRussNC says:

Perhaps somebody can help me understand something. I am failing to comprehend the term fragmentation. If i understand correctly android is fragmented because they update the platform and the older devices sometimes do not get the update. Iphone is different how. I'm not criticizing apple here but in what way are they not in the exact same boat with fragmentation ?

Nirvana328 says:

"That crown goes to the likes of Barnes & Noble and Amazon, with their highly customized, outside-the-Google-ecosystem devices. And to the Motorolas and HTCs and Samsungs and other manufacturers who customize Android. That's not to say these customizations can't be great and useful. On the contrary. But they lock us into their upgrade cycle, with their headaches."

What you're referring to is legacy. Some devices are too old, or not high end enough (read: budget phones) for them to receive updates. The iPhone 3G is legacy since it's no longer receiving updates, but the 3GS and 4 will get updates since they are newer.

Fragmentation (like the paragraph above the video says in the quote) is when Amazon or Barnes and Nobles or Motorola or Samsung takes Android, customizes it, and then when Google releases an update, those devices from Amazon, B&N, etc don't get the updates because the software has been tweaked and the update from Google needs to be tweaked to fit their customized version of the OS. And like Phil said, it's not Google who's fragmenting Android, it's Amazon, Motorola, Samsung, and even the carriers who change the software and delay updates.

fantasma4 says:

I also have the Droid X.... It was actually released with Eclair... then got both the Froyo update and most recently Gingerbread. Besides having a front facing camera, not a deal breaker, it does everything I need it to and this phone has not gotten sluggish at all. In fact it is faster now than it ever was. I am a mix of civilian (I wait 2 years to update my phones) and average/nerd (root/rom)user, and the thought of switching over to IOS has never crossed my mind. First I am a guy with guy hands, and the smaller screen size would just never work for me. I am deeply rooted in the Google ecosystem, and the way everything ties in with each other is a huge Android plus. I have been the co-pilot using the driver's iphone a few times and their navigation compared to the navigation on Android is day and night. Lets just say if I were to be lost, I would rather have an Android with me.
Siri is a more polished version of what android has had for a long time. And voice actions/commands are rarely used, so it is just a cool gimmick.
You know the saying.... sell the sizzle not the steak... well android is the steak, ios is the sizzle.

crxssi says:

I agree with you and Phil on that. I have the Evo 3D and have not used the front-facing camera even once. Same thing with my previous phone, the Evo 4G. And same thing for my Xoom. Haven't used it once on ANY device. It is one of those things people just want to complain about if they don't have, and it really isn't a big deal when you do have it.

The 3D screen, the voice commands stuff- very similar. More gimmicky than generally useful. But, I guess it is a good thing to experiment with stuff, you never know what might end up being the "next big thing".

patfactorx says:

IOS is like DOS. Its fast, simple and clean but seriously!? Its DOS! What would you expect when its that simplified.

Android is complex but there is a lot of room to grow into. If you don't want to learn anything in the tech world then you can just use Windows XP.

Also, Touchwiz devices are pretty much iOS clones so don't even say that Apple has a better UX cuz most new smarthone buyers would say they are in the same family of devices. Android can do anything iOS can do and then some.

dually says:

Molly Wood is just not being a good android user.

That's my take.

DaEXfactoR says:

Great job Phil. Like I said before, "fragmentation" is not an issue for an "average" person walking into a store looking to purchase a phone, as evidenced by the numbers. I've never heard a customer ask what version of Android is it running, or when can the phone be expected to get updated. Personally, I had to unsubscribe from Buzz Out Loud, because I couldn't take all the ranting. I want to hear Tech news reported without opinion. If I'm listening to an Android specific podcast, I expect it to be partial to Android, iOS, partial to Apple, and so on and so forth. But if you claim to be reporting tech news, you have to be objective because technology is about 99.9% personal preference and way too subjective....especially when you are reporting off of rumor and speculation..whens the last time they broke a story...

engineer2001 says:

Yeah, that's exactly why I stopped visiting the BGR site. When the iOS before this most recent version (lion? leopard? whatever) came out, BGR specifically bashed on Android and listed the many ways iOS could never be matched by any other OS.

I expect objectivity from the tech bloggers who claim to be non-platform-specific. Otherwise, everything they say is tinged with bias and can't be trusted.

When I don't care about bias, I come to the Mobile Nations sites where it is expected. The platforms are right in the sites' names, and Phil loves Android, Rene loves iOS, Kevin loves BBs, etc.. You get the news from the fans, and they don't pretend to be unbiased when it comes to OS.

DaEXfactoR says:

other than security updates...updates should not be expected. I know we want em, hell, I know I made a gripe or two in the past myself. but the bottom line is these full version updates are not guaranteed. the fact that some Android devices have made the leap from Eclair to Gingerbread(HTC EVO 4G, Droid X) is remarkable. We are talking to full versions here. The more I listened to her the more convinced I was that she was on the wrong platform anyway...just saying...

FSRBIKER says:

Great article Phil. I have mentioned this on twitter and various forums that mfg should sell their phones with skins being able to be turned off/on. That way when Google updates the OS the update can be pushed quickly while the mfg works on upating their skin. When ready it can be pushed, thats a win for consumers and the mfg doesnt get bashed for never updating. Just my $.02

engineer2001 says:

I read Molly's article last night and agree with most of it. I am solidly in the civilian camp, and I just want my phone to work and be cool. I am afraid if I don't get gingerbread on my DInc that soon apps I want will hit the market that my froyo phone doesn't support. I think it is not outrageous for me to expect the phone I purchased 12 months ago to get the new OS. Gingerbread updates for the DInc started, failed because of bugs, and stopped being pushed out.

I understand Verizon is no longer selling my phone, so there is little incentive for them to update it. But if BB OS 7 or WP7 supported Flash in the browser and had native spoken turn by turn navigation, I would choose them for my next phone. My BB Tour was a great phone, and for the many months I had it, it always got the latest OS updates. Windows devices seem to get the same timely updates, based on what I read in WP7 forums. I bought my DInc with froyo, and a year later, that's what I still have. Not one update, and I still have the same minor bugs I have had all along. I am not impressed. However, I blame HTC more than Google or Verizon for my lack of updates. It seems most (including Molly) think that Android/Google are to blame? I guess in part they are for not partnering closely with OEMs and holding their hands while guiding them through upgrades for existing devices. I don't know.

What I do know is that Android is really neat, and right now I have a working phone with only minor bugs. I can live with that, but the lack of updates is making me look at other OSes a little harder for my next phone.

fria says:

I can't really blame Molly as she reflects the opinion of a lot of average Joe smart phone users, like myself. It can be frustrating to read about updates to a phone OS and wait without any idea of if or when you might be able to take advantage of them, especially when you are locked into a 2 year service contract.

At the same time, I feel you folks at Android Central are a little more forgiving of the carriers. Sure, it's a difficult process to develop and send updates to each carrier's line of smart phones. But that's not the users problem. If a carrier wants to gain market share in this very competitive market, it's in their interest to improve their products and the way they do business, including streamlining the delivery of their updates.

Asking someone to be understanding and to be more patient of the carriers rings a little hollow with me. This isn't the weather where I can complain all I want and it isn't going to change anything. The carriers, and Google too, need to work harder.

gattis07 says:

I've dabbed in the iOS and Android worlds for some time now, and they both have their place in the world. The only thing that I can view as "fragmented" (because Phil did a great job covering the other bases) is the thing we like to call "apps". When a game like Angry Birds was released, initially only on iOS, it worked in the iPhone 3G, 3GS AND the ORIGINAL iPhone. All 3 platforms, sans the 1G iPhone, ran the game beautifully and didn't have any performance issues. When Angry Birds was released on Android, it worked on superphones like the EVO 4G and the like, but failed to barely even load the basic terrain features on the $99 phones of Samsung and HTC like the Hero, at the time. The point I'm trying to make here, I guess, is that Android still has that problem, from an App perspective, SOLELY. Developer A wants to release an app into iOS, and it works with the past 3 generations of phones, because that developer knows EXACTLY how it will perform on the hardware it's going to be running on since there aren't that many iPhones. Say that same developer wants to release that same App into the Android Market. That developer has to accommodate the current crop of superphones, and try to select "individual devices" that will be compatible with the App, because the developer knows that say, 40% or so of the phones people still have on contract won't be capable of even loading the app. It's a slippery slope, and in my eyes, the only part of "fragmentation" that could even exist.

Cubfan says:

You seriously think you needed to respond to her dumb rant? "C'mon, Android... here's your chance to be more like the iPhone."

I say dumb because it's filled with contradictions. She doesn't want to see such fast iteration, but complains that new OS versions are late (gosh, ICS was delayed a whole week). Too many dumb points to mention. She obviously doesn't "get" Android.

She'll be buying the iPhone5. I promise you. Don't let the door hit you, Molly.

ongre10 says:

I am the 60%. Had to say it. Because I read these posts but do not consider myself a nerd. I have rooted my thunderbolt and enjoy it thoroughly. I use swiftkey and as much voice control as possible.
I usually recommend older people and Luddites get the iPhone because it is easier for them to use. I take everybody's opinion with a grain of salt, myself included.
Android central and their sister and brother sites have really good writers which I appreciate.

goldkear says:

*slow clap building into rousing applause*
i read the first paragraph here, then went to the rant and wanted to kill someone, thanks for putting everything (and a lot more) of what i wanted to say in a comment there in a sensible article.

nghthawk47 says:

Samsung Fascinate is still on Froyo. I would expect that an article ranting about another person's inaccurate rants, would in itself at least be accurate. Looks like Nick just assumed that since other carrier's Galaxy S' have been updated, Verizon did theirs. *fail*

lpt2569 says:

Right. It is rather ironic that Phil was too lazy to get his facts straight, then go on ranting about someone who can't get their facts straight.

Floss82 says:

Great story. But this is nothing we haven't heard already and I know its the manufacturer and then the carrier who needs to hurry up with the updates not android but they can push them to release it faster and somehow make it easier to be pushed out:D

Mes3 says:

If you're still rocking a Cliq 2, head over to modmymobile.com and download the leaked GB rom. It runs perfectly and has the same version of nonBlur as the Photon. Its quite surprising that Tmobile just doesn't release it officially.

jackdw says:

I have always liked Molly Wood, and I can tell she is very intelligent and tech-savvy, yet not a huge nerd like some of us (no matter how hard she tries to be). In many ways, she is just like most consumers - knowledgeable enough to know that there is a solution to her problems yet rightfully cautious enough to know that that solution can have many harmful side effects. In some ways, she is just another consumer (albeit one with much journalistic power), fed up with an awful update pushed out by Motorola. She is right to be angry.
That being said, when I read her article last night, I did not agree. I have written in to Buzz Out Loud (which needs to go back to being a daily show) to tell her that the issues with the Droid X Gingerbread update are solely from Motorola and Verizon, not Google. At least she is considering the Galaxy Nexus, because that looks like the phone that she and many of us (myself included), need. When I first saw the headline of this post, I did however hope that you would call out the out-of-date data that Molly used in her post, and include more recent data. I am not looking for a fight between my favorite woman in tech and my favorite Android news site, but I would like to see Molly retaliate to this post, just to see if she understands the mistakes she made.

mullrat#WN says:

Hey Phil relax bro. 500,000 android phones a day or whatever deceptive statistic that google likes to put out. Still is a crapload of phones. Android has won and the winner often is chided for various reasons. I love the guys on this site that want it both ways so to speak. Wake up android is the winner. You CAN'T be an underdog when you are the winner. Stop being defensive and develop more of a superiority complex that windows users have made famous. Your "RANT" was basically a we're the winners and deal with it post. Bad sportsmanship. Android is awesome and the world will have to deal with it. You guys on sites like this will have to face that android will be the boring, common but dominant os from this time forward. Stop raging against the machine. You've squashed it.

engineer2001 says:

The tabular data listed here is a little misleading too. Why do you only list currently-sold devices? Everyone I know is on a 2-year plan on devices that are months old if not years old. How is a device that we are stuck with for another year a "legacy" device that shouldn't be included in the list?

Your data only shows that a device you pick up today will get Gingerbread. How long ago was Gingerbread released?

tronthedon says:

I couldn't agree more with this post. As bad as Molly's article was, this article is just as bad. Way to be so biased as to only show new phones and not the phones everyone is stuck on. And even IF you only take new phones into account, since when is only 57% of phones on Sprint (or whatever percentage it is is other carriers) being updated a good thing? Until that number reaches 90+%, it's ridiculous to think this issue (notice I didn't say problem) is ok and we should deal with it.

If companies had to deal with a 43% return rate, they would NOT be happy. Well, Android fans shouldn't be happy with that rate either.

jaykingofgay says:

let's review something, people.

update does NOT equal "my phone is now broken because it does not have the update"

Repeat.

updated DOES NOT mean "phone without update is now broken"

Nobody ever brings up a specific problem, because the phone works JUST FINE. The "issue" is that new and shiny is out, and I don't have new and shiny. I have relatively less new and slightly less shiny. ME WANT NEW AND SHINY!!!

Seriously, people. since when is only 57% of phones on Sprint being updated a BAD thing?

Why is not yet receiving, or not scheduled to receive an update suddenly bad?

Why?

Seriously. List a logical, well thought out reason why Froyo suddenly became a POS the second Gingerbread got loaded onto a phone somewhere.

Seriously, explain WHY not having the latest version of the OS is bad?

engineer2001 says:

Well, in my case the OS update I never got was supposed to fix minor bugs along with the update to Gingerbread. I didn't get those fixes. My phone isn't broken to the point I can't use it or anything, and I never claimed it was. It is fine, and I can live with the bugs. However, when apps hit the market that aren't supported by Froyo, and my phone doesn't allow me to use those apps, I am going to be upset. My phone is only a year old, and I am now (when ICS lands) two major versions behind. If I don't get Gingerbread, I think obsolescence may occur before a standard 2-year contract period elapses. Don't you?

jaykingofgay says:

"However, when apps hit the market that aren't supported by Froyo, and my phone doesn't allow me to use those apps, I am going to be upset."

and you're upset with the app devs for not making it Froyo compatible, right? Because the power is in their hands to make it Froyo compatible. You do have the option of emailing them to ask why, and if enough people make the request, it's likely to be filled.

If supportability by app devs determines obsolete status, then Honeycomb is obsolete. I've got a Lenovo Honeycomb tablet and there are a lot of apps that either don't work, or, aren't optimized for honeycomb.

I'm not upset because I know that part of the issue is that there aren't enough tablets out there and tablet traffic to justify (for some developers) bothering with Honeycomb. With ICS right around the corner, some are probably waiting.

If my tablet never ever gets ICS.....guess what? It still works. It came preloaded with tons of apps, and I've added tons more. I've got everything I could possibly want or need as far as software goes. If it's not in an app, there's a website that works perfectly on my tablet. I'm set for, at least 3 to 5 years with this tablet.

As a tech owner, I know (and so should you) that the moment a device hits the shelves: it is already obsolete. There is already something better, newer, and shinier going through it's beta test somewhere. ICS is about to drop, but guess what? Jellybean is most likely in it's final stages, if not already through a few rounds of testing. That's how fast tech works nowadays. Google should throttle that, and I bet they will once ICS or Jellybean lands, I suspect once the ecosystem has the tools to equalize they'll slow down.

Small_law says:

I've never found the "fragmentation" issue to be as threatening as it's made out to be. If anything, different OEM modifications offer consumers more choices across more devices, all of which have Android underpinnings.

As for running the latest and greatest Android version, if that is your concern, get the latest Nexus phone. Considering she's a tech blogger, Molly should realize DX updates simply won't come as quickly due to OEM modifications and carrier requirements. That's the deal with every Sense/Motoblur/Touchwiz phone. I do wish consumers were more informed about it up front, but the pace of of phone releases indicates that yes, your brand new phone will likely hit the discount shelf in weeks.

I passed up the Nexus S because I wanted to try LTE, and it's mattered very little what version my TB has been running in the end. That's not to say TB owners' frustrations with the GB update aren't unjustified. We all want the best software and features and waiting for updates is annoying. But the Sense/Motorblur/Touchwiz features are the foremost concern and appeal of those phones, not the underlying Android version. That's exactly why I'm getting the next Nexus. I'd rather have the latest Android version than a bunch of Sense clock Widgets. I'm glad I tried out a Sense phone, but I know now I won't be happy with waiting on version updates.

tronthedon says:

So CNET, a tech media website, has people who know nothing about tech doing tech reviews? And then they wonder why they're the butt of all jokes on tech blogs.

scottyhifi says:

SLAM! nice job. you showed that giant tech site.

Wicket says:

this is one of the reasons AndroidCentral is the best Android site! Well said and the hard truth of the situation. I'm to the point where when discussing Android with my iPhone friends that I no longer compare the iPhone to anything but the Nexus line because that's the only real comparison between "Android" and iOS.. everything else is Sense/Blur/TouchWiz vs. iOS

jlschulz says:

Cnet (read Inet) aside, the greatest advantage of Android over Apple IS it's so called fragmentation. It simply means we have a choice. Unlike Apple users who have to be satisfied with what apple dishes out as being what big brother wants them to have, we can choose a specific set of hardware and software options to fit our individual needs. If I want to buy the latest and greatest processor on the market, I can get it. I don't have to wait for Papa Smurf to tell me when I want it or if I want it. I enjoy actually thinking for myself and make my decisions based on MY wants and desires instead of just buying a label because I can't understand or don't wish to understand my choices. Now if only the sales people at Best Buy can be educated in something other than Applespeak we might see some potential Apple suckers make educated choices as well.

scottyhifi says:

You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.

lpt2569 says:

Inconceivable!

Mikey47 says:

Phil, great article, but please let's take the high road. If they have to feel good about their platform by bashing others, what does that say about them? (their platforms and those speaking on behalf of it)?

There are more androidians than iosians out there. We know the truth and aren't swayed by obvious vitriolic drivel that people have to spew to feel good about themselves.

scottyhifi says:

"vitriolic drivel"? way to take the high road.

Orion78 says:

First of all I haven't paid attention to anything cnet for over a year. Secondly, who in the blue hell is this Molly character. She sounds like a cartoon.

scottyhifi says:

press the microphone button on your google search widget and say "molly wood". that should help.

Orion78 says:

No shit lol. I just don't think she's worth the search.

Current IPhone user next Phone will be android.

I want windows style android
Any manufacturer can build hardware,
Any manufacturer can add their apps/programs and "skins"
When Microsoft sends out an update all devices can update to the newest as long as they meet minimum system req.
Customer/user chooses if they want to update.
User chooses which manufacturer
User chooses which "skin" they prefer

Let the new software (icecream) be available to all phones that meet the minimum requirements
Let some "brand new" features be available only to latest hardware.

It's much more complicated I understand but this system makes me feel like a pawn.
A pawn to the carriers
A pawn to the hardware manufacturers
It makes me feel like they just wanna make money off the consumer
Without providing service
"open" should drive competition in the capitalism world but not at the expense of the consumer
No model survives long enough if they don't treat customer as king
Here android "ecosystem" makes customers pawns so everyone except google abuses the customer

Google developed a great software and I love what I can do with it as a user
My galaxy tab is awesome the software update depends on google and Samsung
And I hope to get timely updates

Google created a monster and now it's loose,
Neither google, the manufacturers nor carriers can control it
Google needs to step up and take this monster by its horns and make carriers and manufactures fall into line

I love android
I don't like being told its complicated and deal with it attitude

I want change
As per the new Bollywood movie "rockstar". saadha hak atthe rakh
Give me rights their rightful place

Down with the carriers and manufacturers
Long live android

Commodus says:

A lot of people here are saying "it's not Google's fault, it's Motorola's and Verizon's." So who does Molly buy a phone from, then?

That's the issue. You can claim a variety of devices and that updating is just fine, but it rings hollow if those devices and updates suck. For Molly, Motorola is entirely out: it's still using Blur and doesn't have a good history of problem-free updates. Some don't like HTC and Samsung, either, and until that coalition (we'll see if it pans out) they were often slow with updates, even if they usually did a good job. It's almost impossible to get just a straight-up Android phone that isn't a Nexus device; some of those customized phones are just dandy (I love the Galaxy S II), but others you can tell would have been better if the OEM had just left the OS alone.

As such, Google has some responsibility simply for letting partners wreck the experience. Apple did that once, with the iPhone 3G's iOS 4 update, and it clearly doesn't want to do that again; I've tried the iPhone 3GS with iOS 5, and it's actually faster. Diversity is part of what makes Android good, but at a certain point you have to encourage better-quality updates. It's somewhat telling that Eric Schmidt admitted that Google had bought Motorola partly for the hardware... perhaps an admission that there needs to be a baseline for quality and software that isn't limited to just one or two phones.

scottyhifi says:

She makes some very valid points. I like the platform despite it's flaws. iPhone, Windows Phone 7 and (obviously!) blackberry have their flaws...and fan boys. The problem is no one listens to the fan boys except the fan boys.

Why so many trash-talking nerds attacking her opinion?

duke82722009 says:

You tell her Phil!

deV14nt says:

Calling ordinary people "civilians"? What are the geeks the military now? Did I miss the joke? "Civilians" is a military term.... And in that sense, all of us are civilians. Unless you happen to be involved in a war right now...

Swype stated to be the best keyboard, without any comment about it all being up to someone's preferences? Stupid. Swype isn't even the most popular anyway. Most people have never even heard of SwiftKey. I got it from Amazon's free app-of-the-day. It's not even worth free.

Suggesting everyone get a Nexus? WTF. Nexus S is really old hardware. Even something like the Samsung Infuse, running Froyo, is better than the Nexus S for most people. They'd be happier with the much better screen, better graphics, and better processor in a thinner form factor. They probably wouldn't even be able to tell the difference between Froyo and Gingerbread.

The great thing about the Nexus Prime is that it will finally combine the latest hardware and the latest software. None of the other Nexus phones do that. The bad thing is it's on that carrier known to charge $300 for every phone that comes along... many of which aren't very good.

elking says:

And now we know why BOL was moved from every day to once a week.

Maybe if Molly stopped thinking she's a witty person and laughing at her own jokes she might be able to pull a decent commentary out of her ass. It's amazing she used the same BS logic when she discussed her using a Windows Phone 7 unit: "She just needs it to work." Really? I've been on Android since the beginning and my son sports a Windows phone, and you know what? They both "just work".

molly wood is beyond horrid. she and the rest of her minions like brian kulick (sp) have been drunk on the apple kool-aid since the jump.

scottyhifi says:

She is actually an equal opportunity critic. She left the iPhone for Android. Android is not the only platform with issues. To ignore the issues is a problem that the community needs to face at some point.

But let's just throw the whole "anyone that likes apple is drunk on the kool-aid" comment in there to show em who the real fan boys are.

I really wish the word fragmentation would stop being thrown around so loosely.

Google is not to blame for their being different skins of their OS. Google releases the same version of Android to all of the OEMs. Once they get the paws on the OS, the add their own customized UI to it, whether it be Sense, TouchWiz, Blur, etc. And if these UIs don't work well with the latest version of Android, the update is delayed in getting to the carriers. From there, the carriers add their bloatware to the phones. Again, if the carrier's bloatware has any issues, then the OS update is finally delayed to the user.

So it's not Google's fault, Android 2.3.7 has already been released. From 2.3 to 2.3.7 is 8 updates in what 10 months? Let's see iOS try that.

If you want to compare apples(iOS) to apples(Android), then compare an iPhone and a Nexus device. Google chooses the OEM and there's no custom UI or carrier bloatware. And OS updates are as they should be.

The ones that complain about not having timely updates are those that choose not to flash roms. Flashing roms is what makes Android so great. Once the source codes are released by Google, the android development community really gets going. The devs have done very impressive work from just leaks.

I choose Android because I want to choose have I want my phone to work and look. It's democracy at work. iOS is more on the lines of Communism. They feel that their way is the best way for the good of everyone.

With Android, you are free to choose your carrier and each carrier the freedom to choose your OEM. Freedom of choice comes at a price. In the sense, the price is delayed updates.

scottyhifi says:

You just made her argument..."you just have to...". Why doesn't it just work, update or satisfy my needs? Why do we need to flash roms? Why doesn't everyone want to void their warranty to put the OS that should have been loaded on their phone in the first place? Stupid humans!

GensBB says:

Fantastic article Phil!! I read Molly's article this morning and it sounded like a whiny baby getting upset that the phone she choose to buy was getting left out of the update that she is longing to get. As you said Phil, this is the carrier and the manufacturers fault, and yet she thinks it is the fault of the OS. I was rolling my eyes as I read her moaning and groaning. I forced myself to read all of her article though as it amazes me how the "professional bloggers" DO NOT research a damn thing before they spew their hate.

Again...fantastic response Phil. Would love to actually see her respond to your article and try to defend her useless dribble.

Cnet is not apple biased, they rag them as much as anyone. Just cause one person there wrote an opinion piece don't condemn the whole organization. Its just her opinion. People take cell phones way too seriously....

Ekachu says:

You're missing at least two phones as part of T-Mo's list: They still have the myTouch 4G (launched with Froyo, updated to Gingerbread) and the myTouch 4G Slide (launched with Gingerbread) listed, JSYK.

She's an idiot anyway Phil, don't waste your breath unless you're bored.

"To be honest, fragmentation alone is plenty reason to abandon the platform--I'm not buying a new phone every year just to keep up, and I'm tired of the guessing game and bullet lists about what's coming when and to whom, and what apps support what version of the OS, down to the second decimal place. If only that were the end of the tale, though."

Then don't buy an iPhone Molly! The fact that the ONE year old iPhone 4 can't handle the new software upgrade (Siri) is pathetic and a weak excuse to fleece Apple lemmings into spending $500+ for an off-contract new iPhone 4S. At least in previous iterations Apple's hardware was good for 2 or more years with the latest OS.

Good response though.

This was my response to Molly's blog post.

"Molly, you sound like a spoiled brat. I hope for your future or current kids sake that they were born on time so as not to feel your wrath. If my Sprint phone didn't give me Gingerbread, then gave me Gingerbread that broke my phone, then gave me a different phone that also sucked and never gave me good service...I would leave Sprint. All your complaints are about Verizon's ****** service and lack of GB updates. HTC EVO for Sprint...GB a few months after release...in fact one of the first phones to get it. That's not HTC, that's Sprint; as you so (poignantly) pointed out that the (Verizon) HTC Incredible lacks GB. Android can't pay your overpriced Verizon contract either, does that mean it (Android) sucks? Is it their fault that you choose to pay more for the same exact service in 95% of the country? Sprint and TMO are giving the best "Android" experience by putting the least bloatware on and not making me use Bing. Try a different carrier and quit blaming Android for your lack of common sense."

If one buys an Android phone (that is not a nexus) a few months before a new version of Android is to be released and then complains about not getting updates, then that person is an idiot.
And since this complaint box is an idiot, he can't root his phone and install a custom ROM.
That is a vicious cycle.

From a business point of view however, manufacturers need to cater to these idiots because they are a large chunk. Manufacturers need to have a department working on the latest version of Android and need to push the latest OS to all the phones they produce at around the same time. This will bring uniformity.
For eg. If Android Jellybean is to be launched in June 2012, Samsung should start work on the OS asap, build the OS according their customizations and push the update to ALL their phones by say September 2012.

jaykingofgay says:

I think honestly android should announce the next OS upgrade ONLY when they've got at least one manufacturer/carrier releasing the update that day. You know how people are. It's announced by google today, they want it today. They don't care about blah blah blah time, blah blah development, they're greedy, whiny, children, and they want their ice cream now.

InvaderDJ says:

Phil I agree with your end conclusion (buy a Nexus) but not the rest of it. Not sure if you've listened to BOL, but this all started with the craptactular Gingerbread update for the DROID X. It is a well documented issue, one that has had multiple supposed fixes but is still broken in a lot of ways. And Google is unable to do anything about it.

The problem is that MotoBLUR sucks. Or Motorola sucks at software development. It is a sad state of affairs when a ROM made by unpaid volunteers in their free time (Cyanogenmod) is updated more quickly, has less bugs, and more support than the ROM made by the people who made the phone that you pay.

Her rant about fragmentation is not the real issue of course, I think that is just frustration and lack of understanding about FOSS (when Ubuntu has an issue for instance Linus and the Linux foundation don't fix it, Canonical does since they make Ubuntu) but the point is solid.

Hopefully once Motorola is bought by Google, Google can smack the Motorola developers and ban them from making software and to instead focus on hardware.

Also on a semi-related note while I love that Android Central focuses on reasoned responses and moderation instead of overwrought ranting I think you do Android a disservice. Don't excuse Motorola or just say "It's open" or "Buy a Nexus", point out the flaws and don't excuse them. It is inexcusable that it takes so long for Android to be updated on the majority of phones. Again, I point to Cyanogenmod. There is absolutely no reason for it except companies not wanting to cannibalize their own new product. It is inexcusable to release buggy updates after all that time.

I love Android, I really do but these are issues that need to be fixed to keep Android for being a software ghetto, inferior to more polished software (iOS) for normal people. Hopefully ICS fixes this, hopefully Google can rein in the update times, hopefully the Nexus will be available on every carrier subsidized so that everyone can have a decent, no compromise experience you don't have to constantly fiddle with and troubleshoot but I'm not convinced that they can.

dan4patriots says:

nice ac, delete my previous comment

Phil, the Continuum came with 2.1 Eclair and is still there to this day! (I would know, I have one. Me and 7 other people.) Also, the Fascinate is still on 2.2 Froyo (Had one before continuum, it never worked and Verizon Customer Support is pretty bad, they said they would send me a DINC 2, I got a continuum in the mail because apparently the DINC 2 is prohibited). Just pointing those things out! Other than that, Great article Phil! Please correct these errors to prevent confusion of customer and not force them into Smartphone Heck.
(in other words, make sure they know it is eclair to prevent them from buying any piece of poo.
*cough*Samsung*Cough*)

RoninX says:

Good article.

The one thing that's missing is that Google's purchase of Motorola can be a forcing factor to reduce fragmentation and improve update timeliness on all manufacturers.

Google can tell Moto to only release Nexus-like vanilla Android phones that receive updates as soon as they're available. This isn't an unfair advantage. Any other manufacturer can also choose to release vanilla Android phones and grab upgrades as soon as Google releases them. But if they don't, then there's a clear advantage to buying a Motorola vanilla Android phone.

kiawia32 says:

Just a note: the sammy continuum on vzw was launched with, and still officially on, eclair. I just rooted last month, and I've had this since thanksgiving.
I guess I fall into the would-be-nerd category with that news.

TenshiNo says:

I know I'm going to enrage some of the Samsung GS/GS2 lovers out there, but most of the time when people are complaining to me about how buggy Android is, it turns out they're using a Galaxy S phone. Don't know much about the G2 yet, since it's so new, but it seems like with the Galaxy S you either got a great phone or a total piece of steaming dog crap. Not sure why that is.

I have one particular pair of friends (a married couple) who both ran out and got the Captivate. His works great. Hers... well between the audio just randomly not working (to the point that it won't ring) constant freezes that require a battery pull and (of course) her GPS constantly telling her she's in Florida instead of Texas.... you get the idea.

The sheer amount of "choice" you get from Android is both the best and worst thing about Android. Plus you get a bunch of people who go buy these Huawei phones and then don't understand why they seem so slow. They don't realize they're buying an "entry-level" phone.

The Android faithful out there (I'm using this term tongue-in-cheek here) need to try and educate people like Molly just like this article attempts to do. Thanks, Phil.

When talking about samsung, I agree on every single level. Samsung is poo. Android=:) Samsung+Android=:(

If your planning on android go HTC, Motorola,... Wait! I have a better idea! Get a Nexus (one, S, Prime(or galaxy nexus (I dont think so though) or droid Prime (whatever it will be)))

mediocreman says:

I am an former Android user that left for iOS. I had the misfortune of buying an Eris when it was released. And that phone was BROKEN with well documented bugs that should have never made it through QA/QI. And I did nerd it up; when I finally updated to an iPhone 4 my little Eris was running a verison of Cyanogen mod 7. And it was terrible.

My issue with that was I should have never have had to do that. Telling someone to root or to just buy a Nexus phone is not an answer to complaints. And if that is the only answer, don't get all huffy when someone says, "Ok, I don't want to do that so I'm jumping ship".

Android is a geek phone system. Normals or "civialins" just don't like it in my experience. Of all the Android users I know only two are upgrading to another Android phone; they're geeks who've rooted and installed custom OSs. Everyone else hates their phone and is jumping ship to iOS when their upgrade comes around. Which is good for me cause it means I can drop my texting plan now that everyone is going to have iMessage. :-p

drt054 says:

So effing sick of waiting for GB. LG Revolution user here!!! My phone comes from LG with unlocked bootloaders, with busybox FACTORY INSTALLED and yes we rooted Android 2.2.1 but got an update with improved radio and other programs (still Froyo) but we can't root the frickin thing!!! Luckily my peeps at XDA extracted the improved apps and system improvements but unable to get the radio and boot.img. Also CM7 development came to a grinding halt because we "heard" we would be getting GB soon and only 1 developer (TheCubed) was working on it but couldn't get the libsensors to work right. MTMichaelson got a system dump from the LG Esteem that came with GB and it is rooted, just has to make it work for the Revolution. So after all of this freakin time all I have to say is HA!! HA I say!!! We will get GB when me shit turns purple and smells like rainbow sherbet. Thanks for letting me vent!! :)

xgunther says:

The Samsung Fascinate, contrary to what the article states, is on Froyo, not Gingerbread.

The thing that pisses me off about fragmentation is that you have all of these brilliant developers working for the OEMs spending all of their time developing the latest and greatest, while leaving yesterday's latest-and-greatest behind in the dust. I simply can't fathom what is making it so hard for them to push out updates faster! You have *unpaid* devs on XDA doing it a million times faster and more reliably. Perhaps if they would stop crapping out phones left-and-right and focus more on providing reliable and efficient support, we could all end this fragmentation argument. But they just won't slow down! It's become such a disgusting competition frenzy between the manufactures, that they are ultimately crapping on their customers.

I almost always agree with you Phil. However, I think it's rather foolish to downplay *the* most negative aspect of the Android platform.