AOSP developer says 5-month wait for ICS is “very reasonable”

April 27, 2012

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Meet Jean-Baptiste Queru. He's Google's lead technical developer for the Android Open Source Project, the open-source Android code that manufacturers and ROM developers use to create updated versions of Android. And he's not nearly as upset about the lackadaisical state of Android updates as we (and probably you) are. In a Google+ post yesterday, he broke down some of the reasons that Android updates in general and Ice Cream Sandwich updates in particular take so long.

Giving the recent example of Sony's ICS update for the Tablet S, Queruhad this to say:

This is actually a very reasonable time, since under the hood Ice Cream Sandwich is quite different from Honeycomb (and upgrades from Gingerbread are likely to take longer as those differences are huge).

He went on to praise Sony for their many contributions back to Android's open source code, something that's hard to deny. He notes that since Ice Cream Sandwich differs so greatly from Android in its previous incarnations, longer than usual updates aren't all that bad.

We've got a couple of points of contention with this approach. One, Sony took nearly six months to release an ICS update for its Tablet S, and there are still too many tablets and phones out there (like the Xperia S) that are still without ICS despite being launched months after the source code became available. If small teams of independent developers can create Android 4.0 ROMs from scratch in weeks, why does it take international companies months?

Queru also notes that it takes time for manufacturers and carriers to customize their own software for a new version of Android. That's absolutely true, but it doesn't mean it's a good reason for huge delays. If it takes 7-8 months for Samsung to release Ice Cream Sandwich for the Galaxy Note because they want to cram in some extras with their own software, maybe that software isn't worth the wait. Even on Verizon's Galaxy Nexus, which is supposed to be a developer device, stock users have been stuck on Android 4.0.2 for months while newer phones and ROMs are released.

Jean-Baptiste Queru posted his thoughts on his personal Google+ account, so his opinions shouldn't be taken as representative for Google itself. But if this is what one of the most important Android developers out there thinks, I can't help but be worried that Google is just fine with the status quo, while Android users wait for updates that are almost universally late or never come at all.

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  • turn_self_off

    About the launch issue, it is easier to keep going with the firmware one used during R&D and release a update later on than try to cram in a whole new firmware late in the ramp-up to production. Not everyone can get their factory to rouse whole shifts from the bed to change things within days of product launch.

  • Where did he say he was FINE with the nexus not being updated?.. Oh wait – he said ”
    The part that blows my mind is that some variants of the Google-engineered flagship devices still haven’t received Ice Cream Sandwich (or are stuck with older versions of Ice Cream Sandwich) because of delays introduced by operator approvals.”  – Maybe you should read this –

  • Casper

    Everyone is forgetting the one all mighty reason. The product has already sold. From the company that made the phone/parts to the carriers that swindled users to buy the phone and then actually sign a contact for 2 years. 95% of the.time if the user just bought the phone out right they would save much more over that two year period of time with lower plan rates and not being locked into.a contract. Tmobile has such plans. Anyway there’s no money for anyone in the line to “upgrade” from one version of an OS to another for our phones -GB to.Ice. Patches are not so bad since they are related to the same.OS version-2.5.4-to 2.3.6. Upgrading to say Icecream,this requires a new development team to be put together for that device. Testing every app etc and how that’s handled, etc. It’s also easy editor to say ya well there’s a leak of Icecream on Xda right now only took.a few days to make it happen. So let’s address this. We will take.the.SG2 -t989, true yes it was only days after a leak for a ATT skyrocket phone did we have a ROM for.the T989. The ROM booted but that was it, no phone, no WiFi etc, IF memory serves me right we had 4 or 5 people hard brick their $600 phones. However it was weeks before a lot of the bugs were ironed out and.the two that are still there are no WiFi calling and massive call echo with about 85% of people that load.the Icecream ROMs. still have it. Remember this is a leak.for.a different phone with a different kenal all together however our devs made it happen with.what they had to work with. Samsung on the other has to get it right the first time, no bricked phones,, a smooth upgrade like butter. Then after they spent all this time/resources on.a device they already sold then the carriers come into play with their bloatware like tmobile-tv, 411, tmobile-caller-ID etc that has to work cause that software is subscribtion based every month and is the carriers cash cow. This pushes the rollout even further.

    To me if we as an example your Ford mustang came with full upgrades to the next model line. So when you bought yours , you had. 6 speed stick on floor , the next year they came out with flappy paddle shifters on the steering wheel. This also included a new trasnmission and rear diff as well. So you take you car to the dealer to get everything switched over and Ford tells you be atleast 8 months to make parts etc so go drive it until then. Would you get pissed or would.u be like ok I understand cause my car wasn’t designed for those parts in the first place?…..

    You can use a dozen examples even M$ charges to go.from one OS to another and I think our phone making companies have found out why. The huge amount of resources these companies have had to pull together just to cover thier promised upgrade path from.GB Icecream will show.going.forward. I highly doubt we will see any of them promsing free free OS upgrades to jellybean. It just cost way to much money to do so.