Vic GunDotra of Android and Google

This is Vic Gundotra, vice president of engineering with Android. And he's about to say something you need to listen to. Something you all need to listen to. And when he's finished, go back and listen to it again. And when your ears are done steaming and you're through stomping your feet into the ground, listen to it again.

Carriers need time to organize and test software updates, people. Your phone is just one of many, and it needs to be done right. And Vic does an excellent job explaining why carriers need time to get out the latest and greatest version of Android.

All that said, we definitely feel your frustration at the wait, and there are some phones -- cough, Xperia X10 -- that take far longer to update than is practical for a consumer to consider. Anyhoo, check out the video after the break.


Reader comments

Why carriers need time to upgrade their Android versions [#io2010]


Microsoft Windows doesn't require every computer manufacturer to re-test every computer whenever there's an update. It *is* possible to develop an operating system that is compatible between releases.

You didn't actually reference Microsoft as the best way to deploy an OS did you? I would prefer my phone doesn't BSOD. You can take it back, it's ok.

If your computer is crashing every time you get an update, you have something wrong. And, regardless of any misgivings anyone has against Windows, we can at least say that updates are rolled out quickly across a wide range of hardware. Therefore, there are no excuses for Android.

With the exception that the available memory for android OS on phones is A LOT smaller than what you get on a computer, so the ability to build in multiple driver, display, and radio support isn't there.

Windows updates on everything because it is a HUGE os (size wise) it has so many redundancies built into it to compensate for every possible configuration that the os is really bloated. Android doesn't have that luxury.

It has to be custom built for EACH device (if this wasn't the case, then as soon as a 2.2 rom was rooted, it could be installed on every phone with no customization). And on top of that, phones share a stronger connection with their networks than a computer share's with it's ISP's or even the general internet. There are so many ways that this connection could mess up that carriers need to stress test it before releasing it to the public at large.

Makes sense. Thanks for clearing that up. I wonder what ever happened to one of the pre-IO announcements about how Froyo was supposed to allow certain components of the operating system to be download from the market in order to curb the "fragmentation" problem?

I think it might've been pushed back to Gingerbread.

The start of it is there in froyo (auto update from market) but maybe they couldn't make it stable in time? That or they are working with developers and carriers on it and want to have it glich free for the push.

thing i hate with this, chances are my phone (gsm hero) wont get froyo, and def wont get gingerbread. same with alot of phones, so this fix is only for new phones now =/ froyo was the last hope for alot of older phones.

Would work if all carriers have the same communication tech. Obviously, that's not the case (CDMA, GSM, TD-CDMA, WiMAX, etc..)

which annoys the hell out of me (uk), since we all get along and just use GSM =|

But yeah i bought my phone handset only so i could use the carrier i wanted. Google probably needs to somehow build the functionality that carriers need seperately, so phone companies can just roll the updates out the door with no worry, the carrier can just manage their settings seperately.

And as for windows BSOD, when did we go back to early 2000? you tried a later windows? and the critique of the analogy is un-necessary, because google will be able to do it better, especially because ms has already done these errors for all to see.

Android Central is completely missing the point. Stomping my feet? As if. Don't be so bloody minded and condescending.

As for the article, understand this: I DID NOT buy my phone from a carrier. I bought it from Google and paid full price for an unlocked phone, with no contract and no loyalty to any carrier. So, I don't give a toss what the carriers do or don't need to do, to modify the release to suit them and their whims.

I've got an AT&T compatible phone. Not because I'm on AT&T, I'm not, but simply because the carriers in my area use the same bands. So, I should wait patiently while AT&T decides if it's going to allow tethering, for example, and then have to root my phone to get around the restrictions that a carrier I don't even use puts on me?

If anyone is antsy, its because the T-Mobile version was partially released. Just to select tech bloggers. Those of us who are not tech bloggers or on T-Mobile want what we want- for Google to release a version that works for us. That's all.

So, do me a favor- hire an editor for crap posts like yours, or ask yourself each time you write something, "self, am I being a douche to my readers in this blog post?" If the answer is yes, don't publish it.

"Don't be so bloody minded and condescending."

That is typical of 90% of Phil Nickinson's posts. He's a blowhard who's posts you eventually get used to ignoring the shithead aspect and get to the small portion of relevant information.

Seriously? They just started OTA updates for the Nexus yesterday! Your case doesn't have anything to do with a carrier.

The article was about carrier delays. I don't understand what you are stomping about.

LOL, your entire post reminds me of a child having a temper tantrum... I think you proved his point. Point is this, whether you like it or not, you have to rely on your carrier for an update (in your case AT&T, as unfortunate as that is, since you don't use them). Carriers want your money and you need their services. They have their reasons for taking out certain features. So, unless you wanna launch a few satellites into orbit and build some radio towers, you've gotta play by their rules. And so you may have to root and mod your phone to get around them... Whats wrong with that? With the many guides out there, rooting is about a 10 minute process.

Until things change, if/when they do, you should save yourself some stress, take a deep breath, and stop crying.

I don't see him being a douche. He's anticipating ppl who are gonna hoot and holler about Vic's statement.

Congrats to you and others who have an unlocked, vanilla Android device. You all will get FroYo in short order.

Thanks for proving Phil's point. If that isn't feet stomping then I don't what is..

You and everyone else that acts like you, really need to get over yourselves.

He has 2.2 running on his ATT Nexus One already, everything in tact.

The Nexus One is NOT controlled by Carriers. Which is why tethering is enabled on BOTH the ATT and the Tmobile versions. The only thing that remains to be seen is HOW it handles the Data. If it just uses the phone itself to get online, you should be fine, if it acts only as a portal (meaning your computer is visible to the web) then att can block it.

I think you're missing the point here. The N1 update is out. It's the beta, and there is a version that works with the ATT phone. If you're rooted, you can get a ROOTED version of it through the Rom manager. If you're not rooted, go down a few posts and find the OTA version.

Google said it would be released in the coming weeks to ALL N1 users, most likely with stability fixes compared to the press release version.

Honestly, you go off on someone, calling them "bloody minded and condescending" when they were the ones who released the information above (at least on this site) and you patently ignored it.

Seriously dude, calm down. If you spent any time in a customer service position, you'd know just how annoying it is to hear the same question a thousand times a day, and have to give the same answer a thousand times a day. This being the internet, we can be blunt about it (and our frustration). If you dislike that, then get all your android information from official press releases and newspapers only.. then talk about being behind the curve and "having to wait"

i just want a nexus one on t-mobile, supported by t-mobile. i want to be able to walk into a t-mobile store, throw my G1 at the wall, pick up a nexus one and buy it with insurance. i dont care about updates anymore as i havent seen one on my G1 in like forever (first adopter) please t-mobile

You can get insurance on your Google-bought Nexus from T-Mobile. I have it on my account, it's $6 a month.

Why would you want to buy one of their carrier-locked versions? The more expensive, subsidized plans required for those cost more than the upfront cost of the Nexus over the contract, and ultimately that is for a locked phone. This is an honest question.

+++ slimdiggs

What about us poor saps that bought the original G1's that are still running 1.6 and haven't seen an update in a year ?

I'm stuck on contract with T-Mobile for another 6 months before I can upgrade to a supported version of Android hardware. That doesn't exactly motivate my brand loyalty instincts.

At least Apple supports their hardware for more than 6 months.

yeah, phone support seems to only be like 6 months ish for smartphones, but with 24 month contracts.. we had 7 android iterations in 18 months.. so you're phone will be 7 iterations out by the time you get a new one, thats a very fragmented user base. and although android has market share, its so split it means developing for many versions which people just wont.

so all in all you dont really get rewarded, though this is better than some smartphones. But i cant see myself upgrading my hero (gsm), because itll just get outdated, so id rather not care at all.

and yeah im annoyed, im getting 2.1 on my hero AFTER 2.2 is released =/

You got 1.6 on your phone correct? (you started with 1.5, correct?)

Cyanogen and other modders have been working since the 2.0/2.1 release to get a version working on the G1. They haven't been able to (at least not fully) not because of any carrier ill will, but because the phone itself doesn't have the memory needed for the Stock 2.1 update. Your phone is physically incapable of handling the update, even if Tmobile wanted to push it out.

If you're phone is rooted (and it should be.. especially since you only have 6 months to go) Cyanogen is releasing a version of his 2.1 rom (completely stable) very soon for your device. It is almost the complete update, but he had to shave some of the larger applications out to make it fit.

Does Tmobile offer 1 year contracts? Because if so, you should get that. (or buy unsubsidized). As they said on the podcast, if carriers had their way, there would never be updates. Apple gets away with it because they have ONE line of devices, and they break carriers arms when they sign distribution contracts. Google can't do that because they're not directly selling the phones to the carriers.

But if Google releases the NexusTwo, and it's compatible with my carrier? you can bet I'm buying one. The more people that buy phones that carriers CAN'T control, the more carriers will be willing to play nice with Google/HTC/Moto etc when it comes to updates.

With spRint if you have a $69 plan or more you get premiere status and get a new phone upgrade every 12 mnths!...and sprint is getting bettter...when i got on in 2008 best phone was htc touch which was pretty good for my first smartphone/pocket pc

Wrong comparison.

Apple makes the hardware. Apple makes the software. Apple is on one network. It's easy for them to do whatever they want, and the drones who buy their crap will do so because they have been instructed to do so.

Google is on almost every major carrier in every major country in the world. They have 60+ devices from a dozen different manufacturers. The fact that it takes a few months to calibrate a new OS with the manny's UI is not so absurd.

One more thing: People with a G1 or year-old device should not be expecting an upgrade. Hero owners should not be expecting 2.2 without rooting. Never blame Microsoft because your 2002 craptastic Acer couldn't manage Vista. Vista worked just fine with the right specs. FroYo requires a Snapdragon proc and minimum RAM/ROM which most 2008 and 2009 phones do not have. Welcome to the world of high-tech. Keep up or get out.

Of course it will. The Droid is a monster who eats "snapdragon required" labels for breakfast.

Disclaimer: I have a Droid, and I'm constantly amazed at what this phone can handle.

Actually the Droid can handle it just fine. It is certainly a beast of a phone. I have no buyer's remorse at all. I have not seen a phone since I bought my Droid in December that was so far ahead of it that I wanted to switch. I would be less arrogant in the future if I were you.

No it's not. I don't regret my phone choice. The only other android devices I'm remotely interested in are the N1 (which sadly never came to verizon) or the Droid2 (which is just vaporware atm)

The Incredible and Evo and great phones, but they're not stock android. I've played with sense. It's nice, but I prefer the modding community that stock android allows. The N1 was a great phone because it's frontline to get the updates and can't be locked down by carriers.

The Droid is a VERY solid piece of hardware. It accepted 2.1 without a hitch, it will take 2.2 just fine. No, it's not a snapdragon, but this is like the 90's were for computers. Processors are upgrading faster than the OS can support them.

I don't regret buying my droid (at full retail) at all. You'll find that most other Droid users (the ones that understand what they have anyway) will tell you the same.

As a new user for the Android OS I'm trying to understand the rules...If I DON'T release a new OS update quickly I'm the bad guy. If I DO release a new OS update quickly and many of my users experience serious unforeseen problems , I'm the bad guy. If, as a knowledgeable third party , I try to EXPLAIN the delays I'm the bad guy. If I routinely use Microsoft for any kind of technical reference, I'm the bad guy. Makes me wonder if I were to mention that I'm DELIGHTED with the FIRST Android OS (TMobile MyTouch 3G)and will quietly wait for a tested upgrade will I too be one of the bad guys?

Fast Freddie

Some People just need something to complain about. At update times, its how slow the updates take, or how much better the N1 is compared to the Incredible because it will get updates "months earlier". After updates, they go back to bitching about how Google is so ridiculous for not integrating BT voice dialing. After that comes, it will be interesting to see their vastly superior knowledge over Google on new topics! It's strange that Google/Android as well as all the carriers aren't out of business as so many people know how to do it better.

I don't have an issue with what he said. I understand that aspect of it. But, I just wish that they would be more open about the possibilities.

Like, I have an original Mytouch 3G, I don't have a clue whether it's getting 2.1, don't have a clue whether it's getting 2.2.

I understand that the operators have to do things to make it work, but, I would just like it if they were a bit more open about that process. Like, letting users know what the chances are that they see 2.1 and 2.2 on their phone. I'd like to know whether I can get Flash on my phone, that sort of thing.

I know it's not all Google's fault, but just wish they worked together better on that information.

Like a pRevious poster said phones are like pc,s in the 90's.....if you keep a phone more than a year itll be outdated and like old pc,s that cannot run vista win 7 you either have to pay or enjoy outdated hardware....thats why as much as ppl knock sprint i like the fact that my line gets yearly upgrades

The problem here is that everybody thinks their supposed to get the latest upgrade as soon as its mentioned. They could just not tell you anything about the features until they are rolled out. And why did anyone mention Microsoft. Didn't Windows users wait for years hearing about "Longhorn" before they got Vista?

Just sit back and relax folk. Is it killing you that somebody with a Nexus One has 2.2 while you have 2.1 on your phone? Lets wait and see when we all get it. And also its easy to forget but this is all business folk. Anyone thinking the G1 is going to get all these upgrades is crazy. G1 owners that bought the thing hot off the presses are up for their two year renewal this October I think it is. They are gonna want people to be interested in their latest phones. Just be thankful that they don't do much to shut down modding and you can root and keep the latest PLUS some on your phones. I'm a phone nut and will probably have a new phone every couple of years.

Let me also say something about Google. Google...get with one of the 6 month release distros like Ubuntu or Fedora or the Eclipse project (cuz I know you all use it) and study how they coordinate releases with all the projects they depend on like Gnome, KDE, Linux kernel etc. I do believe Google could put together a schedule and get builds to partners help them be ready to roll much quicker upon release. I could be wrong but I don't believe Google pushes any of their work into the source tree until its done. The OEM's shouldn't have to wait till release day to START testing and working on their customizations.

I can understand the frustration. I was feeling it with my wife's Samsung Moment. I finally broke down and rooted her phone and added 2.1 myself before sprint released it. To be honest it is so simple a caveman can do it. So after playing with different builds on 2.1 I can say I don't see the issue anymore. The average cell phone user doesn't have a clue about update's and rooting and such. So anyone reading these blogs anticipating the next build are the acception not the rule. That being said anyone who is in this category should accept the inevitable, resistance is futile. When you have so many different handsets on all the different carriers not every person on Android will be covered or be happy when it comes to updates. Some one someplace will always be missed. Learn how to root your phone so you can have the latest and greatest or buy an iPhone and let Steve Jobs dictate your life. Rest assured with the iPhone you will always get your updates :-) either way you must compromise one way or another. So if you want an Android phone just learn the work arounds and smile while you tether for the price of your current plan. I just made a call using skype on my iTouch tethered via WIFI off my wife's Moment. I don't care who you are, you have to agree that's cool. Oh and for the G1 crybabies here's your link root your phone I am sure they will have 2.2 up and running on it shortly in the mean time you can have 2.1 if you do the work.

One more for the G1 crowd.

Thanks for the links.

I bought the G1 18 months ago to develop a specific application for Android - it served its purpose, and since I've mainly just used the G1 as a phone. The rooting approach seems like a reasonable way to get more life out of the phone. What this discussion also suggests is to look more closely in the future at the matchup between contract length and hardware obsolescence. In any case, I'll probably switch to Verizon from T-Mobile when the contract ends because of differences in the coverage map.

Froyo had better bring a much better IM client than Meebo. Or @ least update that thing already. It's so unreliable.


Step away from the computer. Go outside. Exhale slowly. Whew. Your phone will be updated soon enough. Until then it will operate as well as it did when you bought. Ignore the iPhone fanboys who throw rocks at you at the bus stop. Go re-watch all 6 seasons of Lost. Feel better?

And just how long is long enough? 6 months? 12 months? 18 months? Never?

The Cliq and Behold 2 are still on 1.5, and these devices went on sale late last year. Is it acceptable that manufacturers are allowed to neglect devices that didn't sell well or will take extra effort to upgrade? (Personally, I'm sure the fact these devices have an ancient version of Android affected sales, and the extra effort was the manufacturer's doing.) At a certain point, doesn't Google and the carrier share some of the blame for causing fragmentation by allowing their "trusted partner" to neglect devices? Certainly we can agree that part of the cost of manufacturing a smartphone is taking the responsibility to keep it reasonably up-to-date.

The most maddening thing is the stonewalling by the manufacturers. They won't say if or when there will be an upgrade. In the absence of real information, people will make up their information. This is not desirable or ethical. (Unlike wine, bad news doesn't get better with age.)

Other than the tech heads who read this and other sites, most cel phone buyers barely know what Android is, let alone what version it has. No it's not drastically impacting sales, it's just irritating the crap out of people like us. My Devour has 1.6 and overall it does not bother me. The only thing that really does is that you can only add one Google account to the phone (a pre 2.0 limitation) but other than that it works fine and yes there area few apps that are not available, but not as many as you'd think.

The Apple analogies are not the best either. Plenty of people using their iPhones have not upgraded the software and plenty of people buy the iPhone 3g instead of the 3G S because it is cheaper, even knowing it is a much slower phone and that some 3.0 features don't work in it.