Want the latest Android version on your phone?
It’s that time of the year again. Google announces the next version of Android with a host of new features, and gets everyone talking excitedly about it. The user breathlessly reads about the new features, and sweats with wondering wether he’ll get it on his brand-new phone. After all, it’s a two-year contract he has signed, so no wonder he will get it, right?
Wrong. There’s a very less chance that he will get it, and it’s not because he does not have the the very top-of-the line flagship model of the company he has bought it from. After Google announces a new version of it’s OS, it is made available after one or two months to the manufacturers so they can release it to their customers as soon as possible. So our user-in-question should get it as soon as after a month, right? But what happens actually? Why do manufactures delay so much in providing an update to their users? Why is it always that all Apple users get an update around the globe, wherever they are, leaving Android users leaving in fury and shame?
The Android diversity
Back in 2010, when Google announced its operating system, codenamed Android, there were not many oem’s who wanted to take the risk of trusting Google and making a phone based entirely off it. There was HTC, and then there were, well none. But Android began to grow at a very exponential rate, and now there are literally hundreds of oem’s making and selling Android devices. So how do the bug guys like Samsung, HTC, Sony, LG differentiate their products from others and make something that truely stands out?
These oem’s have no option but to skin what Google provides them and give their own user interface to it. This is the reason why,lets say, a Samsung phone and an HTC phone, both based on Ice Cream Sandwich, look complety different. If you have seen a nexus device, that’s how the original Android looked like before it landed to the manufacturers.
Skinning is hard
Making Android look how they want is not an easy thing. If you think it’s just a matter of copying a code and replacing it with what Google provides them, you’re entirely wrong. Skinning with their own UI is a tremendous task, and this takes months to complete. After that, they have to ensure that it is bug-free, so the user can actually enjoy instead of spending time solving the problem and cursing the manufacturer. If you are a Galaxy s3 user who recently upgraded to jelly bean, you know the problem of opening the app drawer from the homescreen- the smooth animation of ics is replaced with a hard, un-sophisticated animation if you open the app drawer after a long time. And make no mistake – the end user is not forgiving. Even small mistakes like this ruin the feel and aesthetics of the device for him, making him hate the oem more and more. So, giving Android their own UI and ensuring that it is bug free is a daunting task, which takes months.
The carrier problem
After months of hard work, when oem’s are actually ready with the update, they have to give it to the carriers(if you have a carrier based phone) to ‘pass certificates’. Carriers will never be fast. And there will be no one to blame except yourself to have bought a carrier based phone. Things begin to take an evil turn if the phone you bought isn’t a nexus phone.
The ‘worrying sick’ problem
What drives these manufacturers to go crazy in dealing with all this hard work, when the updates are free of cost, is that users are becoming aware of technology and knowing that their device isn’t up to date with the latest innovation. The moment Google announces a new OS, forums, threads, blogs get filled with the same thing – which phones will actually be able to upgrade to it. Users search like crazy and hope that their phone will make it to the list. And when their manufacturers declare that their phone wont be receiving an update, users get frustrated – and promise never ever to buy from that manufacturer again. People turn to the absolute last option they have – custom ROMs, and without proper researching, they end with a big paper bill.
The fact is that – no one can change all this. The one thing, however, that you can do about it is change how you think. You must understand that it is really tough for oems and carriers to co-operate with one another to finally bring up the update to you. Ask yourself this question – does my device serve the purpose for which it is bought for? If the answer is yes, then most probably you don’t need an update. Or if you are the one that must be at the top of the Android version, straight away buy a nexus device. You’ll be ensured a speedy delivery of the updates, delivered straight from Google.
What do you feel? Reply in the comments section below!