Google Updates AT&T Android Phones, Fights Fragmentation

Google started rolling out Android 2.3, dubbed “Gingerbread,” to AT&T’s Android phones released in 2011, as the company looks end the fragmentation created by different versions of its operating system.

The devices include the HTC Inspire 4G, Pantech Crossover, Motorola Atrix 4G, Samsung Infuse 4G and Captivate and LG Phoenix.

Prior to the update, the only AT&T phone running Gingerbread had been the HTC Status, an entry-level Android device. The update gives AT&T top-tier devices the latest Android software, something Sprint, Verizon and T-Mobile already had.

Google faces a fragmentation problem because it has several different versions of its operating system running across several different devices made by different manufacturers. The software giant first tried to market its different versions of the Android OS as a positive feature for the company’s devices rather than a flaw. Google said it didn’t see multiple mobile operating systems on phones as a one-size-fits-all scenario.

But customers’ growing complaints about not having the newest software and developers’ problems with incompatibility issues forced Google to reconsider. In May, after facing resistance from hardware companies like LG and Samsung, the company announced its plan to fix Android fragmentation.

Google now has partnerships with handset makers and carriers that ensure Android phones receive the latest version of Android for at least 18 months after their release, and the AT&T rollout is the first sign the company is following through on this promise.

Google’s plan will likely help AT&T stack up better against rival Apple. The Cupertino, Calif.-based company has always pushed through its updates to every iPhone at once, as long as the hardware allows. A smooth operating system allows for no compatibility issues.

Google’s show of good faith will likely make Android customers very happy. Google’s latest update to its Android OS, dubbed “Ice Cream Sandwich,” is expected to hit later this year. If the company continues to follow through with its plan, the same customers who soon receive the Gingerbread update will be upgrading their phones again in the near future.

This post originally appeared at Mobiledia.

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