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Android Cellphones Handhelds Operating Systems Upgrades

For Android Users, 2012 Is Still the Year of Gingerbread 257

First time accepted submitter brocket66 writes with this excerpt from BGR: "Three major revisions of Google's Android operating system have launched since the company released Android 2.3 more than 21 months ago in December 2010, but Gingerbread is still the most widely used version of Android by a wide margin. A study conducted early this year by graphic designer Chris Sauve projected that based on Android adoption trends up to that point, Android 2.3 Gingerbread would be the dominant version of Android in 2012 despite the fact that Android 3.0 Honeycomb and Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich had already been released. Now, as the fourth quarter of 2012 approaches, data from Google's Android version distribution tracker confirms once again that those projections were accurate."
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For Android Users, 2012 Is Still the Year of Gingerbread

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  • Sorry guys (Score:5, Insightful)

    by OrangeTide ( 124937 ) on Saturday September 08, 2012 @12:51AM (#41270957) Homepage Journal

    But I paid hard earned money for my phone. I'm not ready to buy a new one yet. Now maybe if more Android phones were upgradeable to newer operating systems, I might run some newer software on my phone.

  • by flyingfsck ( 986395 ) on Saturday September 08, 2012 @12:58AM (#41270991)
    Why mess with a good thing? Most users do not need or want to upgrade. If the phone works, then an upgrade presents real danger of making it worse, not better.
  • by Linsaran ( 728833 ) on Saturday September 08, 2012 @01:17AM (#41271065) Homepage

    On the consumer side, 90% of smart phone customers don't use even 15% of what their devices are capable of doing. For most consumers, the questions, "Can it go online?", "Can it make phone calls and send texts?", "Does it have some stupid little games I can put on it to pass the time when I'm bored?", and "Does it work reasonably well without being too confusing for me to figure out" are all they care about. That functionality has been available long before android 2.3 even hit the scene, never mind 4.0.

    The average consumer doesn't understand nor care about the differences between OS versions on really anything, computers, smartphones, whatever. As long as it does that one thing(s) that they want, most are satisfied. Now if they're exposed to a new feature from a new version they might grow to like it and use it, but chances are unless they're already a techie and looking into that sort of thing, most users won't care about it until there's some game/app/thing they want to do with their current device/OS and can't. Plus, unless they happen to be fairly tech savvy and aren't afraid of voiding warranties and what not the consumer is at the whim of their device manufacturers and carriers to get them updated software. So it's no surprise most people just stick with what they have if it works 'good enough'

    From a manufacturer point of view they've already sold the product, maintaining updates costs them money, so they're disinclined to spend money on a product that's already sold. There's some work done on flagship products, and maybe a little bit just to earn enough goodwill with their customers that they'll keep coming back, but like all corporations they balance expenses for 'customer service' very carefully. For most corporations, customer service isn't about doing what's right for the customer, it's about doing enough to keep most of the customers happy, but not cost the company a fortune.

    There's a little more incentive on the carrier's end to keep things updated, since their customers are paying for a service, not for hardware, and I'm sure that there's some push from the carriers to get their devices updated. But even then that costs money, so it's really only going to be their most popular devices that get attention, and less popular ones will fall by the wayside.

    Tl;dr most people figure if it ain't broke, don't fix it

  • Re:So? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by fm6 ( 162816 ) on Saturday September 08, 2012 @01:29AM (#41271107) Homepage Journal

    Speak for yourself. I like a having a hackable smartphone or tablet that lives outside the Apple walled garden. I do not like that developers are being forced to code to an API that Google froze as obsolete almost two years ago. Nor do I like the fact that a few braver developers are writing cool apps for the current API, but IU can't run them because phones I can afford are stuck on Gingerbread.

    Android phone sales may be fine now, but technology is a grow-or-die marketplace. No matter how well it's doing now, Android doesn't have a future if it's stuck like this.

  • by dutchwhizzman ( 817898 ) on Saturday September 08, 2012 @01:34AM (#41271123)

    Cyanogenmod is available for maybe 25% of android devices sold in models, probably less than 10% in number. For my android device, there are severe trouble with the phone/wifi firmware (wifi sometimes doesn't work when you have a SIM inserted) and camera (not supported by native camera app). There is no support for that from the CM team since it's an unofficial port and obviously, the hardware vendor and telco don't support it either.

    Apple supports firmware updates including full hardware support for about 3 years at least. You may not always get all new features, but at least you get the security updates. Google does not mandate any such term from their vendors, they are fine with "fire and forget". In practice, this makes devices with the same quality and features in hardware less worth if they're not running iOS. You may not want to spend iOS money on a device, but if you have to add in the security risk and frustration about the lack of support and McGyvering you will probably be subjected to, the price difference may suddenly not be that big anymore.

    Android vendors get away with putting on their own "improved" UI, which usually isn't that much of an improvement, but makes it harder for people to switch phone because the UI is different. There's no signature "it works this way and looks that way" OS on Android phones, making it harder to market them.

    If Google wants to really get ahead, for Android 5 they should mandate 3 years upgrade support from vendors and telco's (within 1 month after general release) and no customization apart from optional addons that can be switched off by the user. People that spend a lot of money on a device or a "sponsored" telco deal should be able to enjoy their device a whole lot better and marketing the devices would be a lot easier as well, making it more justifiable to pay top dollar for such a device.

  • Re:So? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by hairyfeet ( 841228 ) <bassbeast1968@gm[ ].com ['ail' in gap]> on Saturday September 08, 2012 @01:55AM (#41271197) Journal

    If these devs are coding for obsolete systems that is their own damned fault, since if you'll look at any eTailer like Amazon or Tigerdirect the ones being sold with 2.x are the CCC (Cheapo Chinese Crap) that frankly won't run anything heavier thanks to low end CPUs and pathetic amounts of RAM!

    If the devs are really giving a shit about 2.x they may as well go write for Symbian feature phones, because THAT is who all these CCC pads and phones are marketed towards. I have no doubt I'll be picking one of those up for my dad, he just wants to try out the pad form factor and see how it fits him before getting a Transformer. Seeing as how the transformer is $500 with keyboard dock it'd be stupid to shell that out if it turns out he can't get used to the touch way of doing things so picking up some $89-$99 CCC makes sense, then if he likes the FF he can get the Transformer and hand the CCC to his GF who does nothing but FB all day anyway.

    So I don't see what the problem is, most devs I'm sure are writing apps that won't run on the low end ARM chips the CCC units running 2.x have anyway, so targeting that version would just be retarded. IIRC the first dual core units all ran 3.2, so I'd target that as a baseline and if they are running something so junky that it can't even run 3.2 then they really should get something that isn't CCC.

  • Re:So? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by AuMatar ( 183847 ) on Saturday September 08, 2012 @01:57AM (#41271209)

    It's a combination of problems.

    1)Too many versions too quickly. 2 major releases (3.0 and 4.0) in too short a timespan

    2)Not enough work on backwards compatibility. If I use the 4.0 features, there's no good fallback. Java doesn't help them here- in C++ I could #define in 2.x and 4.x blocks, Java requires lots of reflection aware code because there is no conditional compilation. Or you need to set up special stuff with antenna and the like, which is hard to get working nicely with all the tools.

    2a)The backwards compatibility they do have is pretty broken. Unless the support library improved, it couldn't do simple stuff like make PreferenceFragments work like PreferenceActivities in 2.x very well. So as a dev I can't code to 4.0 and use libraries to emulate features.

    3)The ratio is still out of whack with more 2.x phones sold than 4.0. This is due to so few phones being upgradeable

    4)For whatever reason, I don't see a lot of open source stepping in to help this. On the PC, there's be open source libraries galore to step into the gap. On mobiles, not so much. I think the idea of easy monetization via ads (regardless of how much you actually make) has helped to kill the open source movement on mobile phones. Plenty of free help out there, but not much in the way of quality libraries. But these are the people who generally would be jumping on new features. Without them, its mostly commercial devs and they just want to target the mass market.

  • Re:So? (Score:0, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday September 08, 2012 @02:00AM (#41271221)

    Yes, but in reality this techie nonsense about API versions is irrelevant. What is relevant is that Samsung is shitting on the face of every other Android seller and is almost the only vendor actually profiting from the platform.

    PeeCee Dweebs naively assumed that the Android market was exactly like the PC, except with an open sauce OS. No, because the company who plays the role of Intel and assembles most of the CPU/chipsets also happens to be the the dominant player in the retail market -- Samsung.

    So this Android 2.x thing is not just companies temporarily being retarded with the OS deployments, but actually the result of Samsung ass-reaming them all the way to the bank. The endgame is obvious. Samsung and Google/Motorola will be the two big players fighting Apple and maybe MS/Noikia. Everyone else is building 21st century dumbphones.

  • by stephanruby ( 542433 ) on Saturday September 08, 2012 @02:05AM (#41271245)

    "Three major revisions of Google's Android operating system have launched..."

    Really? I thought it was just one major revision.

    "Android 3.0" was for tablets only. Perhaps, they should just have called it "Android 2.0 Tablet edition", which was really what it was. Take "Windows XP 32bit" users for example, it's not like they complained when "Windows XP for Netbook" came out, or when "Windows XP 64bit" came out.

    And Jellybeans is just Android 4.1. That's not a major revision, that's a just minor one, hence the ".1" and the minor number of changes compared to Ice Cream Sandwich version - Android 4.0.

  • Re:So? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by symbolset ( 646467 ) on Saturday September 08, 2012 @02:19AM (#41271313) Journal

    Last Christmas it was only 700,000 units per day - and it was the holidays. June was but 3 months ago, and it was only 900,000 then. Now it's the off season and 1.3 million per day. With a ramp to holiday volumes we could see a 3x year over year increase. I would say that Android is still seeing considerable growth.

    Just Android's increase in sales per day over the last three months is the entire market for the wildly successful iPhone. Nearly 100% increase in just nine months, from an immense base. This sort of growth is supposed to not even be possible. At some point sheer volume dominance kicks in, and the thing becomes hard (but not impossible) to displace.

    I don't know what you think good growth is, but if this ain't it everybody else in the smartphone industry is toast.

    I like ICS just fine on my Transformer I bought on launch day, but Gingerbread works just fine on my 2 year old phone. At renewal time I'll get a phone with JellyBean. In the meantime, all the apps I like work great on both.

  • Re:So? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by fm6 ( 162816 ) on Saturday September 08, 2012 @03:19AM (#41271533) Homepage Journal

    Most developers are using a API that was supposed to be phased out 2 years ago, and most new phones still have that same 2-year-old API? How is that not stuck?

  • Re:So? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by MagusSlurpy ( 592575 ) on Saturday September 08, 2012 @06:58AM (#41272175) Homepage

    There's no real problem, this is just clickbait hype. Phones are lasting longer than 2 years, and normal people don't upgrade their OS. That's being spun as an issue.

    No, the issue is that the manufacturers and carriers aren't upgrading the software. I bought my phone in January, it was released last October, eleven months ago, and the manufacturer (HTC) says it won't push ICS, and my carrier has been mum. I could install the alpha build of CM9 on it, and give up video recording and get "wonky" camera operation (according to the single dev on the project) - but I like having a camera on my person all the time.

    THAT'S the damn problem.

  • by Hadlock ( 143607 ) on Saturday September 08, 2012 @09:43AM (#41272965) Homepage Journal

    I would buy an Android powered Blackberry curve in a second. I loved my Blackberry to death, but using it made me feel like I had an Apple II in my pocket, when everyone else had a sparcstation. Dat keyboard.... to this day I'm still slower (even with Swype, Swiftkey, etc... I've tried them all) on a touchscreen than I ever was on my physical keyboard blackberry. Sadly the only android phones that come with a physical keyboard are marketed towards teenagers and thus manufactured as one grade up from trash.

  • Re:So? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by DJRumpy ( 1345787 ) on Saturday September 08, 2012 @09:54AM (#41273049)

    It's also not the developers fault that they target the dominant version of the OS. Google dropped the ball. They should have made an upgrade path easily available to their users (and by users I mean end users, not handset manufacturers).

    Apple got this one right. It takes no skill to click an 'update' button. Hell it even prompts you that an update is available. Plug it in and your phone is updated in 15 minutes with a single click.

    The current method of relying on handset vendors to provide updates to Android handsets where there is no profit margin for them to do so is broken. Why provide updates when you can get this shiny new phone with a newer (yet obsolete) version of Android? The technical folk can upgrade but the masses are stuck with obsolete and potentially vulnerable versions due to neglect.

  • Re:So? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by SomePgmr ( 2021234 ) on Saturday September 08, 2012 @11:35AM (#41273627) Homepage

    Absolutely agree. Developers just go where the people are. People are largely at the mercy of manufacturers and carriers who can take years to release a single update. And even when they do, there's often no notification to the end user that a new version is out.

    And you're absolutely right about Apple having this part nailed. iTunes handles all that quite nicely. Of course Apple only has to deal with 4 or 5 models. I expect Google knew they couldn't manage safe rollouts on an infinite variety of devices, which is a fair assumption.

    End result is Android phones in general just don't get updates. Not in any meaningful way that you can count on. People all have to go buy new phones before you can change your minimum target API.

Nothing succeeds like the appearance of success. -- Christopher Lascl