The head of Google’s Android Open Source Project took to his Google+ page yesterday to congratulate Sony on its recent tablet update to the latest version of Android. That version of Android is called Ice Cream Sandwich, and it was released more than five months ago.
It took Sony only about 5 months to ship this after I released the code in the Android Open Source Project at the very end of last year. 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).
That’s a ridiculous assertion.
In the tech world, five months is a very, very long time to wait for a software update. Most Android smartphones still don’t run Ice Cream Sandwich. Instead, they’re stuck on a version of Android called Gingerbread that’s more than a year and half old.
We saw this same problem last year with Gingerbread. That version was released in late 2010, but it wasn’t until mid-2011 that most smartphones started to get the update.
Today, we’re still waiting on Motorola, HTC, Samsung, and others to update its existing smartphones to Ice Cream Sandwich. Luckily, the new crop of phones from those manufacturers are starting to ship with Ice Cream Sandwich installed.
Meanwhile, Windows Phones and iPhones are able to get software updates as soon as they’re available. Even though Windows Phones are made by a bunch of different manufacturers, Microsoft makes them adhere to strict standards so every phone will be compatible with updates. Since Apple makes both the hardware and software for iPhones, you don’t have to wait at all for the update.
If the Googlers behind Android think five months is a reasonable time to make customers wait for a software update, where’s the incentive to buy an Android phone that will be out of date in just a few months?
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