I’ve Officially Lost Faith in Android

What has been whispered about for quite some time finally bubbled to the service today in comments made by both AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson and Google in response to Android updates and how they arrive on Android devices.

The story goes like this. Stephenson made some remarks at the Milken Institute’s Global Conference inferring that it was Google and not AT&T that “determines what platform gets the newest releases and when.”

He also went on to say that when it comes to Android updates, it’s often “a negotiated arrangement and that’s something we work at hard. We know that’s important to our customers. That’s kind of an ambiguous answer because I can’t give you a direct answer in this setting.”

You can watch Stephenson make said remarks during his talk in the video below.

Read: Why I’ll Always Think Twice About Buying an Android Phone.

The statements were odd, because as 9to5Google points out, we had thought we had the process narrowed down. Google releases the open source. Manufacturers get to work getting the update ready for their specific devices. Carriers get the updates, make sure everything is in order, get them certified, and the software is then pushed to users.

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Motorola has explained this process before, specifically in regards to the latest Android update, Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich.

So, it was a little odd to hear Stephenson make those remarks and it seems Google felt the same way as it responded to the CEO with a statement.

“Mr. Stephenson’s carefully worded quote caught our attention and frankly we don’t understand what he is referring to. Google does not have any agreements in place that require a negotiation before a handset launches.  Google has always made the latest release of Android available as open source at source.android.com as soon as the first device based on it has launched. This way, we know the software runs error-free on hardware that has been accepted and approved by manufacturers, operators and regulatory agencies such as the FCC. We then release it to the world.”

Clearly, Stephenson is confused and I expect AT&T to issue some sort of statement that tries to sooth things over. However,  that’s not what has me irked here.

Instead, it’s the mess.

The mess that is Android which has culminated in Google calling out both AT&T and Verizon in the past few weeks. Just a few short weeks ago, a well-known Android engineer called out Verizon, not by name, for being slow to getting the Galaxy Nexus updated with new versions of Android.

And now, Google has called out AT&T for being ridiculous. Great, only, I wish that these companies were working together to fix the problem rather than taking shots at each other.

I've Officially Lost Faith in Android

I'd like a lot more of this on my Android phone.

I mean, why on earth would I ever buy an Android smartphone when the company that releases the operating system is at odds with the carriers that host the operating system on their devices?

There is obviously quite a bit of tension between Google and the carriers that use Android and a lot of that can likely be attributed to frustrated customers, like myself who are tired of waiting for updates.

Read: Verizon Dropped the Ball with the Galaxy Nexus.

I’m not talking about major Android updates either. I’m talking about bug fix updates that improve my device and make it more secure. More stable.

I mean, my iPhone 3GS, a phone that is nearly three years old, got a bug fix update yesterday. My Galaxy Nexus, an Android phone that I bought in December, has yet to receive a single update from Verizon.

That makes about as much sense as Randall Stephenson.

Anyone else feeling the same way?

  

Comments

  1. Michael says

    What is more disheartening is the experience I got:

    I experience daily several of the critical bugs that are known issues. These problems fill the Verizon forums. Yet whenever I call tech support or go into a Verizon store, they all act like they have no idea what I’m talking about and say there is no known problem. They have no idea about an OS update, much less when it will be released. After 5 months, Verizon still pushes this phone as a top tier, flagship device. I really regret buying this phone. Verizon will not swap it for another device, such as the Droid Razr. They will only replace it with a refurbished handset of the same model – which will have the same problems. If I root and flash with the leaked version, they’ll void my warranty. And they have me locked in another 2 year agreement. In my opinion, Verizon has seriously tarnished their reputation with me and I will be looking elsewhere once my contract ends and I know I’m not alone. Shame on them. We’ll see where JD Power and Assoc ranks them next year with regards to customer service. They certainly do NOT deserve another Nexus device! Google – take note!

  2. Fuzzy Midget says

    I see nothing written here that should warrant one to “officially lose faith in Android”. If anything you should be losing faith in your carrier. While they’ve not been perfect, Google has consistently seen to it that updates to Android, large or small, were readily available for EVERYONE at the same time. Every single manufacturer/carrier is well aware of this. In fact, they ALL obtain the updates as soon as they’re released. Google is exactly right in calling the carriers out on this since the carriers have a history of passing the buck and dodging the blame at every turn when it comes to this issue. They’ve done absolutely everything short of physically installing the updates on all the carrier’s customer phones for them, which is completely unreasonable. It is absolutely the fault of the carriers that so many Android devices are not kept up with the most current updates. You’re way out of line to expect Google to solve the internal problems that keep the carriers updating at slower than a snail’s pace.

    • ChrisRS says

      It does not really matter where the problem lies. If your carrrier is Verizon, AT&T or T-Mobile update delays are aweful. Manufacturer customization causes delays as well. There is no reasonable expectation that Android phones will be updatewd in a reasonable time frame.

      It does not matter what the source of the delay is. If you want a cell phone , you need a carrier. If you want a smart phone, you need to pick a platform and carrier. Currently it does not seem to mmatter waht carrier yiu pick for Android – UPDATES WILL NPT OCCUR IN A REASONABLE TIME FRAME.

      If you can get better service on a difernt smart phone using the current carriers, you might as well give up on Android. It does not matter if the carrirers are sabotaging (SP) Android. It is what it is.

      • Eric says

        This logic is incorrect- it only applies if you choose a device subsidized by your carrier.

        Lets consider Android as an onion –

        Layer 1 – Pure Nexus Phones purchased from Google. Updates will come on a timely basis directly from google.

        Layer 2 – Unlocked Third party device – you’ll get updates after the manufacturer tweaks it for their customizations.

        Layer 3 – Locked phones from a major carrier – you’ll get updates after the manufacturer tweaks it, and after the carrier tweaks that(and because carriers are concerned about you finishing your 2 year contract, all bets are off once the majority of people with a certain phone are out of warranty since a small % of phones will encounter issues during the update no matter how much testing has been done)

        So if updates are a priority, consider these options when you purchase your phone.

  3. Alexander Garcia says

    I probably would feel that way if I was always wanting and needing the latest and greatest updàte from Google. The truth is that the Google Nexus project has always been and will always be a beta project. That’s why the newest OS updates always come with bugs up the waazoo. If you bought a Nexus device, you are basically Google’s beta tester. I chose to get the RAZR Maxx for many reasons besides the monstrous battery. I also got it because it runs the most refined and most polished version of Gingerbread out there. Period. Like an iPhone user would say. I bought the RAZR Maxx simply because it works and it works well. Cheers.

  4. Yeah Right says

    Adam, so somehow you think the carriers _like_ Apple? I mention Apple because they are the competition to Android and the carriers don’t really like Apple, they just want to sell the iPhone more than they dislike Apple. And on the sales topic, all carriers worldwide are selling Android pretty well so I think you conclusions are, in my opinion, unfounded.

    The carriers don’t like Apple distributing iOS without their bloatware, so I think there is enough carrier dislike to go around.

  5. Justin says

    Fragmentation at its finest I say
    New android phones seem to come out every week
    How many android phones have AT&T released over the past 2 years??
    And you actually think AT&T wants to screw with approving updates for 2 year old phones when they are pushing a new android device every month??? Customers complain but still purchase..

    Only way to solve this problem is for google to be a carrier and cut the red tape

  6. Emils Ozols says

    Just wondering here. Couldn’t Google take maters into their own hands and start pushing updates to the devices themselves by ignoring the carriers? Apps get updated right when the update is live, without the help of carrier testing (as far as I know). So why couldn’t the OS do the same? I realize there`s legal matters, but still, something has to be changed, because the system of how updates can reach a consumer needs to change to improve.

    • Joel McLaughlin says

      That’s what needs to happen. The carriers need to get off the tangent of controlling every single detail of every single item on the network. They CAN have a stable network with out being so controlling.

  7. Joel McLaughlin says

    Jean Baptiste-Queru nailed it. The problem lies with the carriers. Stephenson obviously has no idea, from a technical standpoint, what is going on. At least I finally got a Verizon rep to tell me that Google sends the Nexus update out. :-)

    There’s nothing to lose faith in with Android. If you want to point the finger, point it at the dictatorships that we have to live with called the carriers.

  8. John says

    I don’t see why you guys are so impatient. Verizon is obviously figuring out how to disable 90% of the update and then how to charge us extra for the 10% of the update that they don’t see fit to disable. That’s a big job and it’s going to take time.

  9. RN_Student says

    Thank you so much for posting this! That was such a great video! I’m a Nursing student that is looking to work on wireless mobile healthcare. You just made me realize that ATT may be a good idea to seek out for a job or area of focus for what I want to do with my future.

  10. Zool says

    Lol. First rolling out a OS update is a little bit more demanding than updating an app. Remenber there are 10 gazillion different devices running Android each with their own specific specs. Its not because Android releases the latest source code that it wont to be reworked extensively by the carrier’s developers to be commercializable on their product line. Here’s to one more critical flaw of the Android’s open source nature: no incentives for carriers to roll out updates. Seriously pple get an iPhone.

  11. Zeuxidamas says

    I have grown more than a little weary of this debate. We are only a few years removed from when you never got an update to a smartphone. You ran the OS that came installed on your device for the full 2-year contract. Are we entitled to updates on our smartphones? I do not know, I can only say that I do not think it is promised. The morass of the relationship between Google, the manufacturers, and the carriers is well-known, well-publicized, and not new. If someone wants to avoid the potential risk of their device not getting an update, they should not buy an Android device. They should buy an iPhone or a Windows Phone. People who choose to buy an Android device should realize they are accepting one of two risks: that their phone will not get an update, and in the event that occurs, that they are willing to accept the further risk of installing a custom ROM. That is not a tech-snob statement; I do not install custom ROMs on my smartphones. But I accept the fact that there is a risk that my phone will not be updated, and that if it is not, that I am stuck with it for 2 years, or I can pay the full price to upgrade off-contract before my two years is up. For that matter, there is no guarantee that a Windows Phone will see an update in a 2 year cycle either, although all devices with few exceptions, have been supported to-date. These are the models. Google is not going to go to a Windows Phone model. That model already exists and is offered on the market. I for one do not need to see the same model offered on Android.

    Whether or not my device is supported drives whether I buy the next generation of that device, buy any other Android devices from that manufacturer, or even remain on the same carrier. But it does not cause me to demand a change in the technology and business model that has built the adoption rate of Android devices as it stands today.

  12. Stan S says

    1. firmware updates have been available for many GSM phones for years. Even cheap flip phones had firmware updates to correct bugs and add/remove features. US customers seldom knew about them because of the locked state of the vast majority of the phones.

    2. Carriers should rely on the PTCRB certifications for firmware and allow any firmware that has been certified to pass. They can PAY the OEMs to customize the firmware to add their bloatware. But once it’s passed PTCRB, it’s released. Either that or they can push the apks to the customers or have customers visit the ‘store’ to find the latest versions of whatever app they’re pushing.

    3. What carriers fear is customer support questions when dramatic visual changes like the screen lock happen on Android. They also have greater fear of bricked phones and the support calls that go along with it. Does Apple support their phones directly when they send updates? HTC/Samsung/LC etc probably don’t.

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