It isn't just the OS itself-- several of Google's own apps are getting buggier and buggier. Voice worked fine when I first got my Droid a year or so ago, but has had a lot of bugs-- including dialing random numbers instead of the one I wanted. (Just yesterday, I tried to send a text message to XXX-XXXX and it truncated the last digit of the first group and complained that it couldn't send a text to XX-XXXX. Nothing I did could stop it from doing this except using the web-based version). Google Listen has stopped refreshing for huge numbers of people, and my wife's new Galaxy S won't even accept subscriptions. Not a word from Google on either issue, even though both show up in searches for the problem.
I had to install Launcher Pro to get any kind of performance out of my Droid, and even then it occasionally locks up on the home screen. Sometimes calls come in and the touch interface freezes, which means that I can't answer the phone. The Droid also will occasionally decide that there is no data connection when it has full 3G service according to the indicators.
I don't use it, but the stock SMS app has apparently has its own problems too-- at least Google has acknowledged those and is working on a fix, but as a whole, Android has gone from less technologically interesting (no wi-fi hotspots, etc) and stable to exciting and really buggy. Combine that with this kind of politicking, and I'm getting less and less enthusiastic about Android every day.
That's of little comfort. The bug report was dismissed and deprioritized for a long time before pressure from the public/internet forced Google to prioritize it and ship a fix.
If Google can't even prioritize and fix critical bugs like this without the blogosphere getting all up in their business... what hope does Android have?
I ended up buy DoggCatcher and I'm pretty happy with it. The UI is a little clunky and confusing at times, but it gets the job done and has the features I need. And, it works in all the areas that it should. It was $6.99 and I can say it was the best purchase for my phone.
[I am not affiliated with them in any way.]
I think Listen's bugginess would only be mildly irritating if more critical (and official) Google apps like Voice didn't have almost-dealbreakers cropping up so often.
When both carrier and manufacturer neglect to offer explanation or consideration for their collective failure to deliver, they must collectively be held responsible. This means switching carriers when possible and buying from different handset manufacturers. This approach has teeth, but only in large numbers. That's why it's so important to set this silliness aside and focus on real and tangible things the average consumer can do. Focusing on fantastical stories of employees clandestinely posting anonomyous accounts of shady contract terms makes for great drama, but still leaves us without resolution. And quite honestly if it took this story to urge you to action then you weren't all that disappointed in AT&T and Samsung's failure in the first place.
As a consumer, this is very useful even without confirmation. If it's true: it explains why some carrier-shipped phones aren't updated. If it's entirely made-up and speculative ... it still might suggest a business reason why carrier-shipped phones aren't updated.
Reminds me of this quote by Thomas Kean:
I remember going over a whole report the FBI gave me, 300 pages, "Classified" stamps all over it. I read the whole thing, 300 pages, with an FBI guy looking over my shoulder. After I was finished I turned to him, [and] I said: "I've read all this in the press! Why is it classified?" And he looked at me and said, "But you didn't know it was true." That was his answer.
Maybe you already know, but you can get an unofficial Froyo rom from xda-developers. And before people jump on me about how it won't work for their mom or next-door neighbor - this is just a tip for fellow HNers, in case they didn't know already.
You're right, the mods are all pretty disastrous IMO.
Also if you're worried about those leaked 'stock' roms, theyre just TAR files afaik, people on that forum regularly pull them apart and diff the binaries against those compiled from samsung's official source code which you can get here: http://opensource.samsung.com/reception/reception_main.do?me...
In CyanogenMod's case, you can have the stock feel with more options.
But Samsung sucks - I am not going to buy anything they sell - even ignoring all of the rumors they have badly botched up by not updating to 2.2 for all of their US Galaxy phones for so long.
tl;dr, Your best bet for upgrades is a high-end HTC phone on Verizon. If you go with Samsung or AT&T, you're out of luck.
Your best bet is a phone that's designed to be rootable. Why put something like that in the hands of the user-hostile carriers?
Sprint has been known to replace it for free with an HTC Hero if you throw enough tantrums and demand enough replacements of the same model, but really, Samsung is to blame here. I will never own another Samsung phone and have prevented others from buying them as well. I've personally given up hopes of the problem ever being rectified, but I'm switching my family to Verizon/iPhones at the end of my contract.
* It didn't really fix anything. The radio still dies randomly, just slightly less often.
No, you can only hold the organization that you have a business relationship with responsible.
This makes it seem like they're hiring Marketers and MBAs who think the best plan is to try to squeeze as much as they can out of their contract customers (the cell carriers) rather than put as much Samsung awesomeness as possible into the hands of actual happy users. Short-term thinking never gets old.
Maybe it's time to look at HTC.
Imagine this situation Verizon says, "Our Samsung Galaxy S phone must get 2.2" while Sprint says, "No need". Should Sprint have to pay for what Verizon is getting?
The issue is that you're going to pay, whether its Samsung or HTC. Some companies will build the price into the phone, others will price it in some other way (or some companies could eat the cost -- but that's probably not sustainable).
Charging directly to the end user seems like the best way to do it. If I want 2.2, then I should pay for it, and if I'm happy with 2.1 why should I pay for other people to get 2.2? But short of that, charging the carriers makes sense.
They don't. Samsung is an 800lb Gorilla in the CE space. They are the biggest seller of HDTV's in the US (though Vizio is closing fast) and the second largest manufacturer of cell phones worldwide.
Samsung is also starting to throw its weight around a lot.
Maybe with Swype on an Evo I wouldn't miss the physical keyboard.
Samsung released Froyo in November, and you can install it on any Galaxy S phone bought here. The update isn't over the air though; you have to connect your phone to your pc, and which auto-updates it. In any case, the carriers have nothing to do with this update so any delays are purely Samsung's fault.
So, iOS 4 has 90 percent share amongst iOS device owners. What about Android 2.3? 0.4 percent, as of a couple weeks ago. Yes, that’s zero point four percent.
But for the sake of this being slightly more fair, let’s compare iOS 4 to Android 2.2 — an OS which came out well before iOS 4. The adoption rate there? 51.8 percent. That’s still pretty pathetic.
Although I'm sure Samsung has every right to charge however much they want, perhaps Google could step in and remind them that if they Samsung wants to be greedy they can always use Bada
Oh damn - here comes the apocalypse, lions lying down with lambs, rivers of blood, oceans of fire - Canadians getting good deals on a cellphone.
At least until I decide to crack it and do the upgrade myself. As soon as I find a 1.6+ or 2.x image that pleases me.
Also judging by the updates trickling in, there is still a lot of work being put in by Samsung to makes these ROMs stable. Almost every leaked ROM has issues. lag fixes and gps fixes on XDA seem to be the norm to work around them
Naturally people are going to compare it to iOS, where updates are free and rapidly disseminated. The difference there is that there definitely is something in it for Apple -- they're getting a cut of every app you buy, every song you download, etc. They're a middleman, so it's just a cost of doing business.
I wish we could get to a point where Android updates cost money. I would happily pay $30 or whatever for each major update if it motivated the vendor to have an interest in keeping it up to date.
The reality is a lot more depressing; the vendors actually want you to buy a new phone.
If your current phone can run the latest version of Android - why would you bother ... ?
- Brand loyalty. Apple's fans are die-hard partly because Apple doesn't (often) screw their users. You can expect timely (even major) updates to your iPhone for quite some time after release. When's the last time someone reported that they won't buy anything but LG/Samsung/Motorola?
- Apple also loves having you on the upgrade cycle. The difference is that these have been largely driven with hardware changes. Retina display, new styling, front-facing camera, GPS unit, 3G connectivity... etc.
There's no reason why Samsung, LG, Motorola et al cannot follow this model.
Which is pretty cool, considering that many people buy these iPhones with a 2 year contract. There's nothing more depressing than having to pay monthly rates for a deprecated product.
Which is why I think Apple's fine with a 2-3 years upgrade cycle, as long as you keep being an iPhone user.
If Samsung (for example) just made one phone a year, they'd lose market share because it would only be 'the latest thing' for a few weeks until someone else came out with an Android phone. Even if Samsung's product life cycle comes in one-year intervals, the rest of the Android community is much faster, and carriers will be glad to push the latest new phone with the latest whiz-bang features.
In order for Samsung to really compete, they would have to make a high-end, cutting-edge phone, comparable in build quality, features, and software to the iPhone. It would have to stand head and shoulders above the sea of mediocre Android handsets, and stay there for quite a while. It would need to be different enough from the rest that it was a clear winner, the Android phone to own this year. This would have to be said about the hardware and the software.
There are two problems here. Samsung isn't a software company, so their modifications to Android are superficial at best and mostly take the form of different UIs, as well as the bundled carrier apps that they have to agree to in order to get a carrier's full support. Samsung can't make a truly great smartphone because they're shipping the same thing everyone else is shipping – the latest Android build, with a different coat of paint.
There's also the hardware end. Apple knows that they're going to sell massive numbers of phones (according to the earnings call today, they're selling them as fast as they're making them, which I believe). They can pre-buy billions of dollars worth of components ahead of time to get preferential pricing and treatment. Their competitors can't match them because they simply cannot get the same hardware for the same price, and so their margins end up slimmer and they have to sell more units to recoup their costs.
Amusingly, Samsung is one of the companies Apple has preferential deals with (for Flash memory), and if I recall correctly, LG is another one (for LCD panels, not likely for mobile though).
So in order for Samsung to make the exact same hardware as Apple, they would have to sell it for more, in larger volumes, with lower margins, which would require betting big on one new product and impressing everyone. It would also require doing something new and innovative with Android, which is difficult because Google and Apple are both doing new and innovative things with their respective OSes so it would be difficult for Samsung to get ahead of either one.
Even assuming they did all that, they're still up against iOS's established mind share. Everyone's heard of the iPhone, and a lot of people want it. They want the apps, the TV shows, the movies, the music. Each step Apple has taken has built upon the successes of the last - first iTunes, then the iPod, then the iTunes Store, then movies and TV shows, then the iPhone, then the app store, and then the iPad. Samsung can't duplicate the entire stack, and they can't piece it together from existing offerings in a way that other providers (or end users) couldn't do. Even if they did manage that, they wouldn't be taking nearly as much of the profits from all of those services as Apple does with its own stack.
There's no way for Samsung (or the other providers) to differentiate themselves significantly. In consumers' minds, there's 'Blackberry', 'iPhone' and 'neither', and establishing a totally new category just for one phone based off of the same software as most of the smartphones in the 'neither' category isn't feasible; supporting it for two years afterward is impossible.
It's much more practical for Samsung to ship a new, slightly-better-than-the-rest phone every six months and just catch their share of the little fish, instead of trying to catch the big fish and risk getting hurt.
The reason I called you out as an iPhone owner, was that your summary of the situation seems to be quite polarised (TL:DR: Apple makes the best, the rest can't compete).
The reason why these other companies can't follow this model is more complex.
In many ways Apple is re-running the battle it fought in the 80s and 90s with regard to the personal desktop computing.
Where Google (via Android) - together with its group of handset manufacturers - is taking the place of Microsoft and the associated group of PC-compatible hardware manufacturers.
The situation comes down to compliments and commodities. The hardware is commoditised - this drives the price of hardware down - because so many companies can produce hardware for the Android OS, each is forced to become as competitive as it can. Android OS then takes a place as a necessary compliment.
In Apple's 80s/90s war, they did their best to stamp out any Mac-compatible machines. I remember in the early 90s there were quite a few manufacturers who tried to produce hardware that would be compatible with MacOS and they were stopped dead in their tracks.
In comparison, Microsoft's rights agreement with IBM spawned the birth of the 'PC Compatible'. Of course, the machine was arguably worse that the Apple Macintosh - but the fact that an ecosystem of hardware manufacturers was able to develop and create a life of its own, meant that Microsoft could produce software to compliment this commoditised hardware.
Microsoft won the war.
In my mind, due to Apple's philosophy - Android will most probably 'win' this war too. Unfortunately, shear force in numbers will generally trump beauty and intelligence.
I think the most amazing thing about Apple, is the absolute, total and utter control its able to exert on the way it's perceived. The word 'marketing' almost doesn't do it justice. Every owner becomes written in as a 'supporter' - there's a culture brought about through ownership that supports its main brand messages. It's superbly clever - and if Apple does win out, I'm sure this will be a large part of the reason behind its success.
The problem I have with your analysis, is that you don't allow for the possibility that one of these manufacturers could step up to produce a phone that can compete with the iPhone's quality.
Android OS is creating a hardware ecosystem, in much the same way that the lack of licensing restriction allowed a PC hardware ecosystem to form.
From the past (and the development of the PC compatible platform), we can see that many different classes of hardware emerged - from bargain basement offerings to very expensive, luxury machines.
I can't see any reason why the same won't happen for Android OS. In fact many reviews have already reported that some of the newer Android phones are strong contenders for the iPhone's crown.
So, once again .. I'm led to believe that you might be an iPhone owner ;)
2+1 (2 years full support — barring hardware limitations — and 1 year partial support: some new features, but not everything)
What I like about Apple is that I could get iOS 3.1.3 installed on a first generation iPod Touch. Doesn't run well, but it works, and I could get the games I play installed on it and running; most apps still run on iOS 3.x.
I also have an iPhone 3GS, with iOS 4.2 on it: there's no incentive for me to buy an iPhone 4, so I'll wait for iPhone 5 or even 6. Apple is still happy because I keep being an iPhone user.
This story about Android is pretty sad, as I was considering getting a Galaxy S. Now that Apple phones are sold by each of the 3 GSM/3G operators in my country (and for reasonable prices) ... what incentive do I have to buy an Android which I cannot upgrade myself?
And of course there's the march of progress, and the nexus one of one year ago is now outmatched by almost all devices with better screens, dual cameras, coming dual core processors and much better GPUs, etc.
That would just be a different user-hostile incentive. The path forward is for Android to actually become consumer open source (GPL3). Let device manufacturers concentrate on shipping hardware and adding any new device drivers to a public repository. Updates can then be directly applied by eager users, or eventually pushed out by carriers with minimal integration effort. Proprietary "value adds" like SenseUI can still be done through the package system.
How so? It aligns interests in virtually every way.
(Yes, integration takes work, but that's exactly why manufacturers need to push their modified code upstream so it can be tested/changed along with the rest of AOSP. A carrier-blessed release should take QA and some minor bugfixes instead of a horrifically large merge-and-debug.)
Then stop locking the bootloader and let me put the latest version of CM on my phone. I'm not going to buy Motorola and I'm not going to buy Samsung. Samsung won't release their kernel modifications for Froyo which are needed by the CM team to get CM7 running on the Galaxy S devices... Motorola is keeping the bootloader (and thus kernel) on their phones restricted. They're also not even close to timely on their updates. My D1 is running Gingerbread fairly stably, especially considering it's ONE maintainer disappeared two weeks ago due to personal financial concerns. OTOH, only one device is running GB from the manufacturer/carrier and that is Google's own phone.
Let me use my damn phone, I'll take care of the updates. I don't know how much simpler we can make installing CM7 and I know there are some/many/random-number people who have gone CM just to get the latest Android version.
> Samsung won't release their kernel modifications for
> Froyo which are needed by the CM team to get CM7 running
> on the Galaxy S devices
Would be great to see a fully open-source phone some day. I believe OpenMoko was striving for this goal, too.
Latest release announcement here: http://eb-productions.proboards.com/index.cgi?board=samsungs...
Video overview here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sCKsiH0wWgg
But yes, I think someone is hacking on the Vibrant, but last I asked in #cyanogen or #koush, I was told that no one wanted to work on the S-G-S phones until more source was released by Samsung.
Also, that guide follows the same template as all their other build guides. If it works, I'm impressed, but I suspect it is a preliminary copy/paste job waiting to be filled in or expanded upon.
Aside from simply having technical insight into the individual ROMs, you needn't look further than the disaster that has been Sony Erricson and Dell's Android entrants to see the truth in this -- those vendors came out with devices running dated Android versions, turning possible winners into catastrophic losers, eviscerating sales of the Streak and X10.
If they could have just done a merge and they were done, obviously they would have.
So now we're getting to the point where it seems that makers like Motorola and HTC have started to build up a significant Android talent pool, and that bodes well. Despite the constant incantations that Android is free, I wouldn't be surprised if the in-house development costs rivaled or exceeded what something like Windows Mobile cost to license.
I wonder how much of those costs go into Sense, Motoblur, Touchwiz, etc. Shipping stock android is surely less labor-intensive.
That implies that Windows Mobile doesn't require similar in-house effort, on top of the OEM license fees. Windows phones still require the same hardware driver development effort, and WM7 is already starting to receive the carrier-bastardization treatment. I'd say Android's licensing being free is the only difference.
Android OEMs have to develop their own drivers to get the various components (screen, GPS, WiFi, Bluetooth, 3G radio, accelerometer, etc.) working whereas with WP7, Microsoft will provide all the device drivers. Part of this can be attributed to the fact that Android devices have a much wider range of hardware options, so it's a lot more difficult to have an uniform set of drivers.
Microsoft did a tonne of heavy lifting to make it so. There were boxed in drivers for virtually everything, and customization was absolutely minimal.
And when you bought a MotoQ, it was stock CE.
I haven't coded anything for Windows CE, but making a Silverlight app for Windows Phone 7 is about a difficult as making a WCF app for Windows, or an ASP.Net app for the web.
Dell has suffered the same outcome for its entrants into the Android field. Clearly they were trying to enter the market on the cheap and it hurt them.