Guidelines group from Google

Rejoice! Google has announced that they are putting together a team of people from many of our favorite carriers and OEMs, to commit to bringing the latest Android updates to users devices. These new guidelines will be constructed by folks at Verizon, HTC, Samsung, Sprint, Sony Ericsson, LG, T-Mobile, Vodafone, Motorola, AT&T and, of course, Google. 

According to Google, new devices will receive the latest updates for 18 months after their release -- if the hardware allows. More to come. Be sure to follow our live blog here.


Reader comments

Google announces a team that will create guidelines for device updates


Is there anything in there about the fact that all the new phones are coming out with 2.2 on them when Gingerbread has been out for quite some time? Hopefully the requirement states that you have to release with the latest OS, that way the 'timely updates' aren't always one version behind, which is maddening.

Viva root!

Normally its 22 and most companies would want you to update as much as possible so they could make some money

Normally its 22 and most companies would want you to update as much as possible so they could make some money

Question: What follows the guidelines of "New Device" any of the new phones that have been already released or announced since january, i.e. HTC Thunderbolt Moto Atrix 4G, or do they mean new as in anything released after today???

For all anybody knows as of now, it may mean not until AFTER the guidelines have been established and put in place.

IMO, addressing "bloatware" is missing as part of the guidelines. city id, backup assistant, games, movies, etc., etc. those apps are providing a little kickback, which allows Verizon, etc., to reduce the pricing of the devices.

carriers need to take a cue from laptop suppliers.

I say, let them install all of the bloatware they want, but give the user an option as to what to do wtih it (such as uninstall) and reduce the price of the device itself.

I agree wholeheartedly. I recently bought a Dell Vostro, and was pleasantly surprised at the lack of stupid (IMHO) games, advertisements, etc. I understand that bloatware can significantly lower the cost of a computer, and the next guy might want the games and stuff I consider junk, but give me the choice to format and do a clean install please! Same goes with our smartphones.

What I want to know is that if I decide to pony up and buy a Transformer, Xoom, or Galaxy Tab, am I going to be left behind when Ice Cream Sandwich comes out?

I get the feeling that we'll see a new flagship device for ICS, probably a phone and a tablet. Do I spend my money now, or am I going to get burned like I did with my Hero?

When in doubt, wait. I've got a Xoom WiFi and it's kind of spiffy, but plagued with minor annoyances. It's not really a finished product, so you're paying to essentially be a beta tester.

See, this kills me. I'm all ready to buy a tablet. I want one, and I just got birthday money.

I was all excited to buy a Transformer yesterday, but it's sold out everywhere. Today I watch the keynote and they announce 3.1 coming out for the Xoom today and they give out free Galaxy Tabs... What is "the" device?

I'd be fine with it if I knew it would be supported in the future. What happens if we get ICS and the standard specs are twice that of the Xoom?

The advantage of Android is that no device is "the" device (like certain competing tablet manufacturers). I know what you're getting at, you want the latest and greatest honeycomb tablet available and you want all your Android updates in a timely fashion but you don't just want a test device...

Really, there are so few distinguishing features between these tablets right now that you should just go with your gut. If the idea of the keyboard on the Transformer sounds appealing, that's your "the" tablet. If you want something super thin and pretty, sound like you wait for the Galaxy. If you're impatient (like me) you get a wifi xoom, and then get really frustrated when google releases 3.1 for verizon xooms only.

The bigger question is how long after the Code is put in the AOSP directory must the update be released to the devices by the carriers/manufacturers?

I just hope that means that devices won't get dropped after 18 months. That would not be good. Google should have enforced standards that would have allowed phones be updated until the phone's hardware is outdated. But I guess I can take this right? (sorry for being in a negative mood today)

Too vague. What is the timeline for updates? Within how long of a release? New phones aren't even shipping with Gingerbread.

Sounds like a step in the right direction, but ...

I was wondering when this was coming up. Im streaming this live myself. This is fantastic news, I wonder though how long does it take these oems/carriers to update the phones. You forgot the fact they announced it will update for 18 months after the phone is released. But does the months it takes to update devices count towards that 18 months. Gingerbread has been out for 5 months and my HTC Evo 4G doesnt have it officially. Thats 5 months out what would be 18 months already

Don't get too excited. They weren't specific about anything

This is completely awesome, however, they definitely need to spell this out. I assume it is from release day, but if people buy an 8 month old phone, they may think they get it for the next 18 months, when in reality it will only be for the next 10 months.

Either way, great to see Google reigning in their partners a little.

that shouldn't matter as even an 8 month old phone will receive the same updates as a release-day phone. think about users who received the original DROID well after 2.1/2.2 hit, etc.

Those who buy an 8 month old phone probably could care less what it is running. Most people that care will buy the newest and greatest.

This is completely awesome, however, they definitely need to spell this out. I assume it is from release day, but if people buy an 8 month old phone, they may think they get it for the next 18 months, when in reality it will only be for the next 10 months.

Either way, great to see Google reigning in their partners a little.

I think this is great news. All of these companies are partnering so the update process is done in a timely fashion (and hopefully simultaneously). 18 months may not be perfect but at least it is now a known term.

Emotional vs rational responses. Let's take a step back and think about this.

Let's just remember that this is just an announcement. They are GOING TO put together this 'committee' to come up with 'guidelines', they're still putting the starting blocks into the track. Once the guidelines are agreed upon, unless there is no penalty for violating them, it will be interesting to see how closely everyone involved follows them.

As for the 18 month time and the fact that most contracts are 24, this is still a business to these folks and at the end of the day, they're out to make money, not just make us happy. That 18 months still gives you plenty of support but the remaining 6 is the teaser period of your contract, do I not wait and go out and get the newest and greatest with the next version? They've got to maintain the carrot to dangle in front of some of us to spend some extra coin.

Lastly, this sounds like the United Nations of Android. Let's hope it doesn't function as poorly as the real UN.

The carrot should be faster, better, sharper, brighter, more fragrant hardware. Software support should be mandatory for the life of the phone. What happens if your rocking a 19 month old phone with major software vulnerabilities discovered yesterday? Too bad, live with those vulnerabilities for the next 5 months?? I don't expect them to support it as long as MS has supported XP, but I'd think 3 years would be minimum.

I agree that the carrot should perform better, especially being a Dinc owner and seeing the Dinc2, I'll be holding on to what I have for now. I think the bigger picture of my comment is we still have to wait and see what comes out of this. Having worked (unfortunately) in a corporate environment for so long, I've seen similar committees formed, even across vendors, that turn out to be a bust. I'm excited to see them make a step towards a unified front, but I'll remain skeptical as there is always a North Korea in the mix or even worse, a neutral Swiss.

Question -- does this actually mean software will be pushed to all those OHA devices in a certain timeframe after official release by Google? Because if not, it just means new phones must be COMPATIBLE with the newest software for 18 months. It doesn't mean they have to update the phones. Just that they have to work with the newer software. Once that 18 month mark hits, *poof* no more support. My EVO supports Gingerbread, hardware-wise, but that doesn't mean it'll absolutely see it within 18 months of the phone's release. Also, 18 months is an absolute LIFETIME to allow for an update in phones. Shouldn't this be more like 9 months max allowed for phone updates, with 18 months of support (so two cycles of software updates)?

Any clarification on this? Also, does this mean the OHA will finally stop putting their skins on my phone and release them via the Android Market? (Yeah, wishful thinking, I know)

I'll shut up now. Sorry everyone.

Google could put in place a team like Cyanogenmod and after say 3 months of a phone not being updated offer a stock version of the newest android version and have that as an option to users who want the update and would be a good way to keep manufactures ready

"Alright we all agree, AT&T, you would like to add something?"
"Well, we feel as though the customers would prefer if non market apps were disabled"

Not any more! Starting with the Infuse that changed. Don't know if it will be retroactive

What about older devices that are plenty capable of running the new software? Quit f...... around & do this right Google. You are looking more & more like the Windows Mobile of this generation. Let the hardware vendors & carriers have their exclusives & different phones. But dammit get this software update mess lined up. A committee means one thing... A lot of talk about what WILL happen, if we all agree. Which never happens.

Samsung has no business on that team. It's like the CEO of GE, the company that paid no taxes in the US, being on Obama's Council on Jobs and Competitiveness.

Oh wait. Business as usual for consumers.

what does this mean for phones like the Atrix which have been out for less than 3 months. Do we still get updates for 18 months (or 15 months now)?

It doesn't mean anything right now. All Google was doing is announcing that there will be a committee sometime soon. They haven't formed that committee yet. So in essence it means you're Atrix probably won't be affected by this, unless Google specifically states that it will be. Don't get your hopes up too high though

My 2 cents tells me this "Team" will take a long while to come to any "guidelines", so any phones we have now probably wont be included. As guidelines go, I would think that they wouldn't be enforced as much as "strongly recommended". Any Company can still support a device after the 18 month period, as a good company would, these are just the minimum requirements, not maximums.
To me this is a good time for Google to make a standard on Hardware as Microsoft did with WP7.