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Android Orphans: a Sad History of Platform Abandonment 770

MBCook writes "After seeing the announcement that Nexus One users won't get ICS, Michael Degusta made a chart to show how current the OS version on Android phones was over time... and the results are not encouraging."
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Android Orphans: a Sad History of Platform Abandonment

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  • Like PC's (Score:4, Insightful)

    by mehrotra.akash ( 1539473 ) on Thursday October 27, 2011 @10:40AM (#37855472)
    Why is it that unlike desktops and laptops, mobiles are locked down so tight
    I can install virtually any OS on my PC, why cant the same be done with mobiles?
    • by tepples ( 727027 ) <tepples@gm a i l . c om> on Thursday October 27, 2011 @10:44AM (#37855554) Homepage Journal
      The real reason: Because unlike Intel and IBM, ARM never managed to specify one standard boot process. Nearly x86 PC since the 1980s has supported BIOS, but every ARM platform has something different.
    • Re:Like PC's (Score:4, Informative)

      by BasilBrush ( 643681 ) on Thursday October 27, 2011 @10:45AM (#37855560)

      Because the PC was designed in the early days of micro-computers and IBM made a couple of mistakes.

      • Re:Like PC's (Score:4, Interesting)

        by Anonymous Coward on Thursday October 27, 2011 @11:51AM (#37856782)

        This is sad, but this is true.

        If you watch Triumph of the Nerds [], you'll have an idea, why PCs are so open: because IBM tried to rush the product out of the door and open interface and interchangeable parts from different manufactures was their only option. IIRC, Larry Ellison calls this decision to basically open everything "the huge business mistake" in this very movie too.

    • Ahem [].

      Mobiles are often locked down, similar to consoles. Both can be cracked. Of course, depending on the competence of the security and the competence of any crackers who want to open up the platform, not all will be.

    • Re:Like PC's (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Microlith ( 54737 ) on Thursday October 27, 2011 @10:47AM (#37855598)

      Because every ARM board is unique, and there is no universal means for an OS to determine hardware capabilities and peripherals.

      On the PC we have the BIOS, PCI, ACPI, and a number of other facilities that work well enough that the OS can automatically enumerate the hardware and configure itself to operate on the platform. With ARM devices, even between two boards with the same SoC you'll have peripherals connected via different GPIOs, interrupts on different pins, a wide array of voltage regulators (some more, some less, all connected differently.)

      And since everything is stored in a flash chip at a custom location, working with the kernel and bootloader is a lot like working with the BIOS on your pc- if you mess it up, your device is screwed (unless it can cold flash, has a hard ROM for flashing, or accessible JTAG, all of which are extremely rare on consumer level devices.)

      But even if you have all of the above taken care of, the complete lack of effort on behalf of Google and the hardware vendors to getting their changes upstream in the kernel generally means that porting newer versions of Android to older devices is a pain in the ass due to needing to rework or sometimes rewrite the drivers. Normally they would be updated and tested by people as the kernel moved forward, but instead they rot in tarballs and zip files out on vendor websites.

      Never mind Google's wacky reworking of the file system. I'm sure devices like the Nexus One have plenty of space to store ICS. But their broken layout and insistence on storing applications on that NAND instead of having a higher capacity internal NAND or only storing applications on the SD card is a large part of this problem as well.

      • by ajlitt ( 19055 )

        I think that storage is exactly the reason why this isn't being supported on the Nexus One. It has 256MB of NAND, which might sound like a lot. However, Android needs some amount of user writable storage on non-removeable media for user settings and applications. Even with Gingerbread, the Nexus One is already severely cramped in this respect.

        Newer phones that will supposedly support ICS have embedded MMC (eMMC) which comes in much larger capacities, making this a non-issue.

  • What? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by iONiUM ( 530420 ) on Thursday October 27, 2011 @10:40AM (#37855482) Journal

    I'm so confused. First of all, this doesn't list the Samsung Galaxy, which has stayed updated. Or the S2 for that matter. Did they specifically pick Android devices that are not being updated (there are many, I don't deny that)?

    Second of all, the original iPhone 2G, which I have, is definitely not supported by iOS5, or even iOS4 for that matter. What are they smoking?

    I can't help but think this is intentionally skewed for Apple...

    • It does seem a bit skewed towards Apple with the exclusion of the Samsung Galaxy.
      As for the iPhone 2G, the graph clearly does not indicate that it has current support updates. This is NOT a timeline, it is a bar graph, so read it appropriately. The support was terminated shortly after the second year, which was early 2010. It is now late 2011 - so support updates for it have been missing for over a year and a half.
      • It does seem a bit skewed towards Apple with the exclusion of the Samsung Galaxy.

        As for the iPhone 2G, the graph clearly does not indicate that it has current support updates. This is NOT a timeline, it is a bar graph, so read it appropriately. The support was terminated shortly after the second year, which was early 2010. It is now late 2011 - so support updates for it have been missing for over a year and a half.

        Given that the SGS and SGS2 represent a HUGE portion of the installbase, as well as the Droid 2, Droid X, (and other handsets too numerous to mention) this whole "expose" is basically ad advertisement for the Apple software update process, which to their credit is quite comprehensive (but to put it in perspective they have exactly 3 hardware builds for 3 years of sales.) What they don't mention is that every "wonderful new software update" by Apple came (until after the new iOS 5 release) in the form of a

    • Re:What? (Score:5, Informative)

      by benjymous ( 69893 ) on Thursday October 27, 2011 @10:53AM (#37855686) Homepage

      I think it should read "highest available version at that time" rather than "current major version" - i.e. for the first three years of the original iPhone's life, it was possible to run what was, at the time, the highest available version of iOS on it.

    • Re:What? (Score:5, Informative)

      by GauteL ( 29207 ) on Thursday October 27, 2011 @10:55AM (#37855732)

      "Second of all, the original iPhone 2G, which I have, is definitely not supported by iOS5, or even iOS4 for that matter. What are they smoking?"

      They are simply stating that the iPhone 2G was supported and up to date for the first three years of its life. This is true. Support was dropped with iOS 4.0 which came out nearly exactly three years after the original iPhone.

      The same goes for the iPhone 3G. Support and updates was dropped three years after it came out.

    • by iCEBaLM ( 34905 )

      The chart stops at June 2010 and it follows phones for the first three years of their life, so an IP2G had the latest OS three years after its release.

      Perhaps you should read the chart?

    • by MochaMan ( 30021 )

      Not to mention they don't cover the fact that while the 3G was updated, the updates (particularly iOS4) left it barely useable. Tap camera... wait 30s... shutter opens. Tap Maps... wait 1 min... maps crashes. Tap it again... another crash... phone starting to heat up now. At first I thought it was faulty hardware, but my wife's had essentially the same problems.

    • I smell Troll (article) just as you did. I did some quick research and one of the "worst" Android phones on the list, the HTC Hero, and checked Cyanogen Mod for compatibility, and guess what, it runs the current CM 7.1 just fine. While it is true that HTC and/or Sprint won't maintain it, doesn't mean it isn't supported. []

      Yes, you have to "root" your phone, yes it isn't "supported" by HTC or Sprint, but so freakin what.

      And if you HTC, Motorola or Sam

    • I'm so confused. First of all, this doesn't list the Samsung Galaxy, which has stayed updated.

      Looking for information on the Samsung Galaxy S, it doesn't seem to be that straight forward, according to Wikipedia. []

      Depending on what carrier your on, and what country you're in, it might arrive at different times, via different processes. And this is a phone only 18 months old. iPhone updates all arrive the same day of release, and carry on for at least 3 years.

    • My just-purchased Galaxy S 4G (T-Mobile) is a version behind (but only in N. America--Europe has apparently had 2.3 for months)

    • Re:What? (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Bocaj ( 84920 ) on Thursday October 27, 2011 @11:06AM (#37855990) Homepage
      From TFA:

      Why stop at June 2010?
      I’m not going to. I do think that having 15 months or so of history gives a good perspective on how a phone has been treated, but it’s also just a labor issue - it takes a while to dredge through the various sites to determine the history of each device. I plan to continue on and might also try to publish the underlying table with references. I also acknowledge that it’s possible I’ve missed something along the way.

    • I can't help but think this is intentionally skewed for Apple...

      You think? He actually include this point - I shit you not:
      Along similar lines, a very small but perhaps telling point: the price of every single Android phone I looked at ended with 99 cents - something Apple has never done (the iPhone is $199, not $199.99). It’s almost like a warning sign: you’re buying a platform that will nickel-and-dime you with ads and undeletable bloatware, and it starts with those 99 cents. And that dam
  • There are tons of good builds out there for almost every platform. [] is a prime spot to start looking. Heck, my phone started as a Windows Mobile 6.5 and I'm running Android on it. [] runs on a large number of platforms also. Who cares if the vendor continues to support it, most people wipe the stock image as soon as they get it home and put a better build on it. Nothing better than free support.
  • Silly fanboys. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by 0100010001010011 ( 652467 ) on Thursday October 27, 2011 @10:44AM (#37855556)

    Look at Apple just releasing new hardware to force you to update! You sheep. Android is a FREE and OPEN platform. Why would anyone be locked down by iOS is beyond me. Keep it up Android and Android hardware suppliers, eventually you'll overrun the dark walled garden that is Apple.
    (anything else I missed out on the typical Apple Bashing?)
    My Optimus V doesn't technically have the latest released for it but Cyanogenmod and a root (Mind you rooting it took much longer than jailbreaking my iPod Touch) took care of that. But not everyone is this tech savvy, my girlfriend is still waiting on her update. And this is why people buy iOS devices for themselves, friends or family.

    • by artor3 ( 1344997 )

      People buy iPhones because they don't want to wait for OS updates? Bullshit. Most people think ICS is something in their freezer. OS updates only matter to tech savvy users, and they can root and install a new version if it's really bothering them.

  • by johnlcallaway ( 165670 ) on Thursday October 27, 2011 @10:48AM (#37855628)
    My wife has never upgraded her HTC Aria to the current OS, while I have. Why hasn't she??? THERE WAS NO NEED TO. Jeez people, get over it. Why did I upgrade?? Because I'm a geek and wanted to. I also had a memory issue with the HTC email program, and I was hoping it would resolve it, which it did. My wife doesn't use her HTC for email. In fact, she hardly uses it for anything except text message, phone calls, and the odd games here and there. Why the hell would she want to upgrade???

    Now, if this guy weren't such an obvious Apple fanboy and decided to do some real work instead of just one that shows what he wants it to show, he would track down a sample population and find out how many actually give a fuck.
    • by Astatine ( 179864 ) on Thursday October 27, 2011 @11:00AM (#37855876)

      She might not want to upgrade, but she *needs* to upgrade, to fix security vulnerabilities.

      That's the #1 problem here.

    • by jo_ham ( 604554 )

      I'll just stick with XP with no service packs and IE6, then?

      No need to upgrade!

    • My wife has never upgraded her HTC Aria to the current OS, while I have. Why hasn't she??? THERE WAS NO NEED TO.

      On the individual basis there might not be a need to upgrade for a lot of people, but it's terrible if you're looking at Android from the standpoint of the developer. Want Fragments UI? Want low-latency audio? Want to integrate NFC beaming? Want to integrate with the calendar or visual vociemail? Or anything else? []

      If your app wants to merely use any of these, you'll have to maintain separate versions, builds, and perhaps even codebases. If your app would require any of these to do its magic, you're go

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by zlogic ( 892404 )

      Nexus One currently has tons of bugs:
      - Clock drift (as much as 5 minutes/week!)
      - WiFI/network switchover. When I leave home, I have to enter airplane mode and turn it back off, or else my 2G/3G data will not work simply because the phone liked my home WiFI so much.
      - Headphone jack sometimes goes nuts. If you get an incoming call while listening to music, there's no way of predicting if sound will go to headphones or the speaker. Once this resulted in all calls going to headphones, even when they were discon

  • Did he leave out all the phones that currently do run the most recent Android OS?
  • by hawguy ( 1600213 ) on Thursday October 27, 2011 @10:53AM (#37855690)

    I don't care about having the latest/greatest Android OS, but I wish the carriers were required to provide warranty support for the full 2 year term of your contract.

    My droid 1 stopped working 19 months into my contract. I had bought the WPP wireless protection plan and figured it would have me covered, but when I called Verizon, they said that it only covered accidental damage and that I wouldn't be covered. They did offer to sell me a refurb phone for $150 or something like that, and offered me an early upgrade with a new 2 year contract term. I thought about "accidentally" dropping the phone into the sink and then making a damage claim with WPP, but I found a used one on eBay for a bit less than the WPP deductable.

    If the carriers are going to lock me into a 2 year contract that I can't cancel, why aren't they required to make sure that the equipment they sold me works throughout the entire contract?

    At the very least, carriers should be required to let me drop the voice/data contract and pay only the phone subsidy ($15 - $20/mo?) if I want to end the contract.

  • by smash ( 1351 )
    ... android is open source though, port it yourself? this is why google is good and apple/IOS is bad - because with apple you're at the mercy of them making your handset obsolete.
  • An original iPhone with iOS4 was slow as hell. An original iPhone with iOS5? I don't even want to think about that.

    The Nexus One isn't getting Android 4, because the hardware is too slow for it. While I would love to have Android 4, I don't want it on my Nexus One. I would rather my Nexus One (while I still have it anyway) to actually be reasonably functional.

  • FTFA:

    apparently Android phone makers think they can get you to buy a new phone by making you really unhappy with your current one.

    Well I was fairly satisfied with my Motorola phone, which came with 2.1. They were very slow getting updates out, so when 2.2 was finally available I loaded it as part of the early "smoke test" group. Motorola and AT&T both included so much useless bloatware as part of the OS update (locked and unable to be removed, of course), that it essentially has no room left for any other apps. So their update left me even LESS happy with the phone, and just 9 months after purchase (and 15 until the contra

  • I know it's hard to get a meaningful metric, but this chart makes me wonder about the trustworthiness of the study. There are approximately two major Android releases per year whereas there is only one major iOS upgrade per year. Thus "two major releases behind" means an average of 15 months late for an Android device, whereas "one major release behind" means an average of 18 months late for an iOS device. Yet by the look of the legend, the first one is supposed to be worse than the second one.

  • by geekoid ( 135745 ) <<moc.oohay> <ta> <dnaltropnidad>> on Thursday October 27, 2011 @11:00AM (#37855854) Homepage Journal

    and a stupid one as well. It shows a fundamental lack of understanding Apple and Android.

    Android is an OS. Different compnais put it on different phones. Thnis means different capabilities and corporate plansd

    Apple is the entire chain.

    SO you can only compare phones running android individually, and not group them as 'Android'.

    The advantage of Androids hardware diversity is that competition can happen, and they aren't locked into a 'box' form 3 years ago.
    The advantage of Apple is that they will update it even if the update isn't needed for your phone.

    The fact that he marks out yellow sections between green sections shows his agenda.

    • SO you can only compare phones running android individually, and not group them as 'Android'.

      So iPhone does have the largest market share then?

    • The problem with this isn't Apple---you're right that they a) own the stack, and b) don't take shit from the carriers----it's Windows Phone. Microsoft has stated---and we'll more or less have to see---that the mess of updates/maybe/yes/no/depends that hurt BlackBerry, Symbian, Windows Mobile and (ostensibly) Android is not going to be a factor with Windows Phone. It's supposed to get OTA updates regardless of vendor or carrier.

      Now, the average end-user doesn't really care about the OS version and what it

    • The way I see it, updates include new features that users can take advantage of, and providing updates to users long after they purchased a device is a way of increasing the value of the product. While Android manufacturers are indeed separate from one another, the value of their products is directly related to how well they sell and how well they are perceived by their users. That not a single Android device is close to Apple's record of updates, despite the variety and number of manufacturers making Andro

    • by Quila ( 201335 ) on Thursday October 27, 2011 @03:08PM (#37859794)

      For a regular consumer a question is what will support be like if he buys an Android phone? What is this like vs. buying a phone with the competition's operating system, iOS?

      These are rational questions for a regular customer, and they are answered quite well. It even helps answer a third question: If I buy an Android phone, which brands have the best history of support?

  • The sad fact is that while of course, the iPhone 3G won't get iOS5, you can roughly expect at least 2 years of updates for an iPhone. Whereas some (but not all) Android devices are given up much quicker.

    Steve Ballmer's FUD is insofar correct in that if you want to update your Android-phone after the maker and/or carrier abandoned you, you indeed almost need a CS degree to update it on yourself.

    The update process is indeed quite well-done on WP7
  • by jimicus ( 737525 ) on Thursday October 27, 2011 @11:07AM (#37856000)

    A few have already noted that the original iPhone doesn't run iOS 5 - but queried why the bar is all green for that. There's a good reason - the graph shows whether or not the phone could run the latest OS up to three years after release, not whether or not it can run whatever the latest, greatest version is today. Each phone is following an independent timeline on that chart.

    So if we look at the original iPhone - released 29 June 2007 - that would qualify for a green bar all the way along provided it could run whatever the latest version was on 29 June 2010. iOS 4 - the first version to drop support for the original iPhone - was released on June 21, 2010. Meaning that strictly speaking there should be a very thin yellow line at the tail end of the bar representing the original iPhone to show that it was a week off being 3 years old when support was dropped.

    Similarly for the iPhone 3G - it's OK for the bar to be green all the way across as long as the iPhone 3G could run whatever the latest version was on 11 July 2011. The writing was on the wall for iOS 4 in July 2011 but iOS 5 was not released until 12 October.

    The OEM's support for most Android phones, OTOH, usually ends long before buyers are out of contract - and it's quite common to find that a phone is running an out-of-date version of Android from the day it's released. Considering the plethora of locked bootloaders on Android phones, this is much more significant than many make out. Yeah, install Cyanogen. Great. But most manufacturers that provide any sort of rescue mode build it into the bootloader rather than into hardware - which means that unlocking the bootloader is not without risk. Myself, I take the attitude that I don't want dick around with my phone like I had to dick around with my computer fifteen years ago. I have in my pocket my first Android phone, absent a dramatic raising of standards on the part of at least one Android phone manufacturer it will be my last.

  • by MaWeiTao ( 908546 ) on Thursday October 27, 2011 @11:37AM (#37856502)

    What does a new version of Android do that an older version couldn't? It's not like you're missing a whole lot with an older version of Android, especially considering that most apps out there aren't version specific. How often does Apple screw consumers with upgrades? Old apps cease working in newer versions of their OS's and very quickly new apps come along that wont run in older versions of the same OS. And from what I've seen people have generally encountered decreased performance by upgrading iOS.

    That said, I do agree that there are problems. Because Google is unwilling or unable to standardize the OS we're left to the whim of the hardware maker and, even worse, the carrier. Of course, the option to root the phone exists, but I think that's an unreasonable expectation for the average person. The iPhone is desirable enough that the carriers accepts sticking with a generation for a year or longer. With Android, however, the carriers and presumably hardware makers as well, seem fixated on offering new devices in quick succession. That pretty much ensures no legacy support because all they want to consumer to upgrade to a new phone.

    Still, unless you've got a fixation on having the latest and greatest, Android, even an older version of the system, easily offers a better experience than iOS.

  • by p51d007 ( 656414 ) on Thursday October 27, 2011 @11:38AM (#37856528)
    Never had an iphone, never wanted one, but, that being said, they have the OS update thingy correct! Control the OS update at the vendor level, NOT the carrier level. It just isn't in the "best" interest of the carriers to put the latest & greatest OS on the phones. Makes it much easier to talk sheep into extending their contract by saying the old phone doesn't have the new stuff, but this shiny new phone does. I wish google would take the apple approach to the OS updates and control it from THEIR end, not allowing the carriers to bloat it & cripple it, THEN, if you are lucky, release it.

How come financial advisors never seem to be as wealthy as they claim they'll make you?