It's the hardware, silly, not the skins!: Motorola exec explains the delays in updating to Android ICS

It's the hardware, silly, not the skins!: Motorola exec explains the delays in updating to Android ICS
A Motorola executive explained in detail why it takes so long to update handsets to the newest version of Android, after Google releases it. She was talking about Ice Cream Sandwich, but we've heard similar arguments from other companies about the ICS update as well.

First off, she dismissed the popular notion that manufacturer's skin overlays on top of Android's stock interface are the reason for the delays. The main culprit is apparently hardware - the more chipsets and baseband radios for different carriers or countries a manufacturer uses, the more complicated it gets to adjust the code for each and every one.

She said it's very simple to update Windows Phones, for example, as there is only one standardized chassis, or even Sony's smartphones, since they only use Qualcomm chipsets. For Moto, however, it is more complicated, because the company uses a number of chipsets and radios from different manufacturers, and it takes time to tailor and troubleshoot them all.

Only afterwards comes the layering of the custom software on top of the stock UI, which seems to actually be the shortest part, and the phone has to be recertified by the carriers, which again takes more time than people would like, especially in a well-regulated market like the US. Moreover, it's up to the carriers to decide if they want the update at all for all devices, or just some of the horses in the stable.

Nothing we haven't heard already from Sony, for example, which came to similar conclusions in their own explanations what's taking so long for Android updates to reach our handsets, but it's nice to have a confirmation. Despite all these hassles, Motorola's exec said that the company has been pretty quick with updates so far, and has often been the first out of the door with the newest Android version for some of its gear.

source: PCMag

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9 Comments

1. deacz

Posts: 162; Member since: Nov 02, 2011

"and has often been the first out of the door with the newest Android version for some of its gear." wutlol?

3. Jimstar

Posts: 259; Member since: Oct 24, 2011

its true, the Droid X was the first device to be updated to gingerbread(the Nexus S shipped with it), there are other examples that I've forgotten and are too lazy to find.

5. Sniggly

Posts: 7305; Member since: Dec 05, 2009

It is actually pretty true. I don't remember any phones which got Group before the DROID X or 2. The X was also the very first non Nexus device to get Gingerbread. The ATRIX was the first device on AT&T to get Gingerbread as well. The XOOM is the very first device to get ICS outside of the Galaxy Nexus/Nexus S. Motorola may be dysfunctional, but tell you what, they do get their updates out pretty damn fast. I'm just pissed that they can't even tell us which devices are getting ICS besides the Bionic, Razr, and XOOM.

7. remixfa

Posts: 14605; Member since: Dec 19, 2008

they get their updates to a handset or 2 really fast. when it comes to anything that isnt a flagship droid or xoom, the record starts to get pretty bad pretty fast. that said, all the manufacturers suck when it comes to updates, and we know the carriers are at least partly to blame. The update for 2.3 for the SGS1 has been available for more than 6 months now, and the carriers have been holding it back.

2. windowsRocks

Posts: 155; Member since: Oct 28, 2011

No one can beat windows when it comes to "updating the existing system".

4. Sniggly

Posts: 7305; Member since: Dec 05, 2009

Oh come on, Motorola. You can do better than that; at least TELL us which devices the update is planned for!

6. kshell1

Posts: 1143; Member since: Oct 05, 2011

i hope HTC releases ics for mytouch 4g slide.....if they dont ill find a damn rom >.> i dont like rooting but if it means ics i will

8. McLTE

Posts: 922; Member since: Oct 18, 2011

You would think Google could structure the code to have the integration with baseband radios and other key components be somewhat more compartementalized. Have those components be sort of plug and play modules that would allow the overall Android OS to implement the different radios more easily. I don't know much about the architecture though, so I could be out in the weeds here. I, along with countless others, would also like to see the overlays be separate Apps available for your phone in the Market. And.. Carriers shouldn't be able to dictate which phones get the updates, these should be available through Google, independent of the carrier.

9. gallitoking

Posts: 4721; Member since: May 17, 2011

that's why if I ever go back to Android.. it will be a Moto. device...

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