Opinion: Google, You have failed again!

Opinion: Google, You have failed again!At 5.30pm on Wednesday night I settled myself down to watch the keynote speech at Google I/o – Google’s developers conference (their very own version of WWDC.) There had been plenty of rumours about an upcoming OS release, a new tablet and Google TV.

I watched as Android Jellybean was announced, Project Butter was trumpeted, a new Nexus 7 tablet was launched, The Nexus Q was demonstrated and then a massive finale showing off the amazing technology that is Google Glasses (Project Glass).

Now it was a very good show and there were comments circulating on Twitter such as “trump that Apple!” and “Tim Cook must be racking his brains to try to better that show” and so on. Away from the Apple baiting there was some excitement about the improvements in Jellybean and the new Nexus Tablet.  Very little was mentioned about the Nexus Q and people were amazed by the Glasses demonstration.

Undoubtedly there was a lot of good that came out of the keynote but for me there was one major thing missing.

Opinion: Google, You have failed again!I have written before on the subject of Android Updates but yet again Google have missed an opportunity and are plodding along as before letting manufacturers implement the update if and when they please.

My day to day handset is a Nexus S. It’s now rather old and due to be upgraded rather soon. It is however a nice handset that does pretty much everything that I need but there are better available on the market with bigger screens, better processors and so on.

So why haven’t I upgraded? Well, my little Nexus S runs Android 4.0.4 (Ice Cream Sandwich). It has done almost since the launch of the SDK last year. In a couple of weeks time (maybe sooner) it will be running Jellybean.

How many owners of a non Nexus Samsung, HTC, Motorola, Sony or LG handset can say the same? Of 400 million Android handsets currently in circulation only around 28.4 million have ICS. That’s 7.1% – and they are Google’s official figures.

The biggest selling Android  handset to date is the Samsung Galaxy SII and it has only just recieved the latest OS update in the last month or so. The SIII shipped with ICS but with a lead time of around 8 months, how long before it too is updated and gets Jellybean?

If it really is another 8 months, guess what? Google will probably have released another update (rumoured to be Key Lime Pie) and all handsets will be behind once more (except the Nexus devices of course!).

The same goes for other manufacturers. HTC have released dates of availability for their updates, Sony have released ICS for their 2011 Xperia range but actively urged caution in updating, Motorola are in the process of upgrading their RAZR range as we speak.  So realistically, the manufacturers are one step behind all the time.

The issue is a complex one.  There are not just handset manufacturers to contend with but the carriers too.  Here in the UK the carriers have branded software on their handsets all of which has to be customised before the OS can be released.  This after the manufacturer has weaved their magic which all adds to the delays.

Many different solutions to the problems have been touted from adding a Virtual layer into Android to making the OEM’s own interfaces work as apps instead of integrating them into the OS to .

Google is a mult-billion dollar company with near infinite resources with which to address the issue.  People want the latest and greatest and consumers are getting more tech savvy, they want the newest.

It is one of the many reasons that Apple is so popular.  If you buy an iPhone today you know that in 6 months time it won’t be out of date with a last generation OS.

Windows Phone 8 is due for release soon and a new iPhone is on the way.  iPhones will be on iOS6 and Windows Phones will be running 7.8 or 8 depending on age but Microsoft have been honest and said “Old handsets won’t run the new version”.

Android users are stuck in a “Will we, Won’t we” limbo and are usually left waiting for nearly a year for an update.  It could all be so much better – Google, you have the power, when are you going to use it and get a better experience for ALL of your customers, not just those that opt for a Nexus?.

Do you agree, are Google failing with their update process?  Discuss and add your comments on our forums.

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  • Keith

    You guys are just recycling discussions from your podcast into opinion posts now?

    • I wasn’t on the podcast either and haven’t had a chance to listen to it either so all opinions here are purely my own….

    • Anonymous

      Simon wasn’t on the podcast this week (or any episode for that matter) so he didn’t have a chance to voice his opinion. Some content here may be the same but thats purely because the subject matter is the same. We do genuinely appreciate the feedback though.

  • Reply left on the forum, because it was rather long for here.

    By the way, I wasn’t involved in the podcast, so this is a good chance to air my personal opinion, as it is for people who haven’t listened to it.

  • Android Fragmentation, how very original. Made yourself looks like an iPhone sheep and discredited everything else you’ve ever written.

  • Supreme Chicken

    Is there a way to block articles like this? I would hate to lose even more of my life by clicking on tired old subject matter. Cant I just upgrade myself to Cyanogen or something if I want to?

  • Adam Treier

    In my humble opinion, anyone who *really* cares about having Froyo, Ginerbread, or Ice Cream Sandwhich either buys a Nexus device so they don’t have to worry about it or takes matters into thier own hands.

  • Clay Ginn

    When I saw the title on this was was getting fired up. but I always read with an open mind. I have to totally agree. this was a fail and I think will fail for a few more years. Apple has done it as they are the maker of the device and due to popularity put the carriers in there place. Google has done it but only with their handset. Samsung just did it with the GS3 with the carriers. So it has been baby steps. With Android this is going to stop with the manufactures because of it being open source. The only way Google takes this over is if they again restrict Android (not going to happen) or they restrict the Play Store to only handset they update. I don’t think they want to do that but MOTO is the dark horse in all this. If all the handset they make get update to then next OS with in weeks (not months) of release then the tide will turn again and they manufacture will have no choice but to follow. I look for changes in the next year or two on this but again it is baby steps and we have to deal with the delays until then.

  • rover

    Only geeks care, 90% of smartphone owners couldn’t tell you what version they’re running, the 10% of geeks are rooted and running custom roms anyway.

  • Moo Moo Head

    How is it Googles fault if manufacturers spend months putting a skin on top their OS? Would you rather it is locked down like WP and iOS then have all manufacturers using the same standard Android version, I thought that was what the Galaxy Nexus was for, but wait, how come then sooooo many people buy the Galaxy SII and SIII and not loads of people instead buying the Galaxy Nexus?
    Maybe instead you could do some research to find out how easy it is for manufacturers to upgrade their OS skins from 4.0 to 4.1, because I am guessing it is a lot easier then upgrading from 2.3 to 4.0.

  • ItemSize

    Utter garbage. Gears, get this tripe off your site.