I think Android has come a long way and is starting to be a serious competitor to Apple’s iOS. Looks likes the new “Jelly Bean” Android OS with the “Butter” project has addressed one of my other major issues, which is the lack of responsiveness. I currently have on my Samsung Galaxy S 4G running Gingerbread, which has this issue. And yes, that is the latest Android OS available for that phone. I have also seen this issue on other android devices, including tablets. So I really do hope that I do get to run Jelly Bean on my Galaxy S 4G. However, it doesn’t sound like I will ever get to. Which leads me to my next and biggest issue with Android devices.

Upgrades?!! You don’t need no stinkin’ upgrades!
It seems that if you buy an android device, you have to be OK with maybe or maybe not getting new versions of the Android OS. I’m sure not! Most people will only upgrade phones after their contract expires, which is usually two years. So, that means you could buy a phone and have two new releases of Android OS come out, before you get to upgrade. Those releases, again, you may or may not be able have. All those cool new features you read about in the news, aaah maybe, someday. Even if you do, you don’t get to have is pushed out to your phone in a supported way, for at least 6 months. That is, unless, you have one of the “google” phones. These reference design phones will always get the new OS releases first. So, those are the most popular models, because you know there are no manufacturers coming in between you and google getting you that latest and greatest stuff. The exception here seems to be the Samsung Tab 10.1, of which, 5,000 were given to developers to kick off the push for Android tablet app development. These were GIVEN to developers! However, the Ice Cream Sandwich release, which came out on October 19, 2011, is still not available for the Samsung Tab 10.1. The date I’m writing this is 7/17/2012, which is almost 10 months later, and the Jelly Bean OS, the release after Ice Cream Sandwich is already out. I know is possible to load it, but again, not in a supported way. So it seems that even if you by the Google reference device, you may go a very long time from announcement of a release to the world, to being able to use.

No upgrades for new iOS for my 3 year old iPhone! Are you crazy!
Now, imagine if Apple tried this. They announce iOS6 for this fall along with a new iPhone. You can get those new features today, if only if you buy the new model. What about the phone you just bought? You will be able to get iOS6 for that phone soon. Then, that soon turned out to be 10 months later. Do you think people would be pissed? Heck, they’d be pissed because the model before one you have doesn’t get to run it at all.

Maybe I’m over estimating the need for upgrades. However, i think as users start get smarting about their phones, this is going to matter more. When they see their friends with iPhones get some cool new feature they like in the update iOS, which just showed up on their phone after plugging it in one day, they are going to notice this. Especially if they’ve been stuck with the same android phone and android OS for the last two years. When it’s time to get a new phone, they are seriously going to prefer an iPhone, especially if it available from their current carrier.

I know hackers love the android devices, and I get that. If I wasn’t busier in life, and 10 years younger, I would totally be using the android phone and hacking it. The little hacking I do these days, is on laptops/desktops/servers/networks/virtualization. That’s where I keep my geek side happy, and I get paid for it. (I love that) For me, my phone is my everything device. I really don’t want to debug it or have to figure out what process is eating up the CPU and battery life on my freakin’ PHONE. I just want it to work and really, do everything for me. I do a lot on my phone, but hacking is not one of them.

So what’s the solution? I’m not really sure. I think Google’s moves to tighten up the hardware standards is a good step in the right direction. However, I think on top of that, they need to work out a deal where users will get upgrades far at least X number of new versions. Or they could do it like other parts of the business world. Any new updates for your phone that is released within 1 or 2 years after you get your phone, will be pushed out to your phone within 2 months of any new releases. Or to simply things a little, they could use the release date of that model, instead of the purchase date.

I know that Apple has no hardware manufacturers to worry about and they have different deals with the carriers. I don’t really care. When I buy something that is a portable computer, I want software upgrades too.

Again, maybe I’m putting to much importance on keeping current with the latest, greatest and theoretically, more stable releases on my phone.
What are your thoughts?

Just to re-emphasis that Google not a good customer facing company yet, checkout the unboxing of the Nexus 7 montage video. Did no one at Google try unboxing the new packaging?