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Why U.S. Galaxy S Phones run Android 2.1 (xda-developers.com)
284 points by spidaman on Jan 18, 2011 | hide | past | web | favorite | 94 comments

As an Android user (and promoter to my friends/family), I'm starting to get worried about Google's approach to the product. Not because of "fragmentation" (which to me is an argument that essentially says "Android isn't going to ever be successful because its too successful now"), but because of the lack of attention it seems to be getting from Google.

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.

> "at least Google has acknowledged those and is working on a fix"

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?

There's just one hole in your plan. The more bugs you have on your phone the more searches it generates :)

To be fair, Listen isn't an official google project, it's a 20% project, and the devs that started it probably just got bored with it, and/or busy.


I don't think that's relevant. Most Android users have no idea it's a 20% project. It's an app that's available on their phones.

Agreed! I hate it when people pull out this excuse. If google is going to offer a basic app/service on their phone, they should be behind it. Period.

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.]

Good point.

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.

This might be plausible, but it can't possibly be confirmed which makes it no better than speculation. I'm as frustrated as the next guy that my Captivate is still running Eclair, but stuff like this doesn't really get us any closer to a solution.

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.

Yes, everyone should be aware that not everything they read on the internet is true.

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.

> I'm as frustrated as the next guy that my Captivate is still running Eclair, but stuff like this doesn't really get us any closer to a solution.

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.

I'm no expert on flashing ROMs but bit the bullet this weekend. Flashed the latest Cognition ROM (3.02) to my Captivate. It was easy to do (for users of HN) and is quite an improvement over stock. I'd recommend owners of Captivates look into it. Take the standard precautions, read up, make backups, etc.

Everything I've read is that the UX on the custom roms isn't exactly breathtaking. Am I mistaken?

Forget the mods, you can download and flash any stock rom you like, leaked straight from samsung: http://forum.xda-developers.com/showthread.php?t=846913

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...

I'm not sure what you've read but you can have regular "stock" functionality (minus Sense, MotoBlur, TouchWiz in most cases) in a custom ROM. It's really up to whoever puts the ROM together what theme or differences it has. Some are good, some are bad.

In CyanogenMod's case, you can have the stock feel with more options.

Talking about Epic 4g specifically (which is a Galaxy S phone) - I updated to Sprint test release of 2.2 (DK28), converted to EXT4 from the absolutely horrific RFS and then updated to Quantum ROM. It is a lot better - lags gone, battery life improved a lot, and to your question - I also have the stock Epic UX with TouchWiz. If you want all the Sprint apps along with TW UX - There is another ROM that was recently updated - TrulyEpic 1.2.

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.

I have the Fission ROM for the Droid X and it looks completely stock. You can get certain parts from Gingerbread, such as the status bar and Launcher ( the Launcher app is basically the home screen ), or you can stick with the stock ones from Froyo.

I prefer the stock UI, which should be available for all phones. I don't have a Galaxy S phone, so I don't know if TouchWiz is available with any of the custom roms for them. Either way, that info should be on the xda-developers website.

I actually find Touchwiz to be a few steps above the default Android experience. The colors are nice...the icons are beautiful. My vanilla Droid 2 running Froyo looks dull comparison.

Summaries of Android upgrades by manufacturer and carrier:



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 for upgrades is a high-end HTC phone on Verizon.

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?

Surely your best bet is an unlocked phone running vanilla Android, rather than any carrier-customised variant? Every carrier customisation has to be ported to the new version each time the OS gets upgraded.

I agree. Though the only unlocked vanilla android phones I know of are the ones from Google. Good devices, but limited selection.

Regarding "It seems safe to say, then -- no big surprise -- that aside from considering a phone's manufacturer, going with a higher profile, top-of-the-line device will improve your odds of receiving regular OS upgrades..." The Epic 4g has been Sprint's flagship phone, still running Eclair. I'm regretting not going with the Evo at times.

I'm on Sprint with a Samsung Moment, forever stuck on 2.1. The Moment was officially dropped by Samsung 9 months from release with the only recent update being a fix* to the radio driver because the CDMA radio would die so badly it couldn't call out (including being unable to call 911...an FCC violation) and it required a reboot to fix.

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.

Those two links are absolutely fantastic!

Agreed - but a little transparency on the public front for both Samsung and AT&T would go a long way. I have been on the fence about installing a hacked 2.2 rom on my captivate, but never did because I just had a feeling that the update was coming 'next week'. That was 4 months ago.

Do it. My Galaxy S with 2.2 is so much better than with 2.1 that it seems like a different phone. It's faster, more stable, the battery lasts longer. I wish I'd done it sooner.

Agreed - even I upgraded my Galaxy S (Vibrant) to Gingerbread Clone (eb-productions) and have better battery life and an amazingly accurate battery life widget.

thx diego. game on.

> When both carrier and manufacturer neglect to offer explanation or consideration for their collective failure to deliver, they must collectively be held responsible.

No, you can only hold the organization that you have a business relationship with responsible.

Gee, I'd kind of liked Samsung because they seemed to focus on delivering good technology at a good price. I'd figured they perceived themselves as something of an underdog in the past (perhaps relative to the Japanese tech industry).

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.

In fairness to Samsung they do incur non-trivial cost doing this.

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.

The biggest downside I see is that it will shackle Google's ability to move the platform forward. For example 2.3 is reported to include some major improvements for low latency audio. As a game developer how do you handle this? Just ignore this 2.3-only feature and target 2.1? Or do you build a 2.1 and 2.3 version? 2.2? 3.0? 3.1? Unfortunately we're talking about these phones being around for another 2-3 years at minimum so realistically you might be asking a developer to support 2.1 3 years from now? That's going to be a really tough sell. The other issue is security. Leaving all those old versions out there with little or no post-release updating is just begging for trouble. (and let's not forget about bug fixes -- no one wants to suffer 2 years working around an annoying bug. They simply won't buy another Android phone after a bad experience like that)

I'd figured they perceived themselves as something of an underdog in the past

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.

Well if they're not careful they could end up being Sony minus the videogame and music business units.

Agreed. I like the Epic's form factor and slide-out keyboard (in fact I'm typing this on a Nokia N810, which is almost exactly the same size) and was excited when I saw it announced. I would probably have bought one by now if it had Froyo. But watching Samsung's behavior around this upgrade has turned me off completely.

Maybe with Swype on an Evo I wouldn't miss the physical keyboard.

It's interesting how this works in the Dutch market: the Galaxy S phones aren't carrier-branded here (they're all called Galaxy S). On phone sites, you can select the phone first, and then choose for a contract from any of the 3 main carriers. It also means that when Samsung ships an update, you can use that update for your phone, whichever carrier you're on.

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.

I've been planning to give up my iPhone for a 4G VZW Android, but it's easy to take a direct update channel for granted.

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.


This is rather heinous. A fee is definitely understandable but a per-device fee is really outrageous. I don't know how carriers were willing to agree in the first place. If they collectively bargained against this before even carrying the phone they probably would've had much more luck.

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

I own an Evo 4G (Android 2.2) and my wife owns an Epic 4G (2.1). I have noticed no difference in their usability at all, aside from a few hardware-specific quirks. I'm somewhat indifferent to the Android dot-releases, and am not seeing much in Gingerbread that I care too much about, either, aside from the improved task management.

This is a very unhealthy trend for Android. Development will be much more costly and difficult if the user base is split across many different API levels. This article contains some insight (if you can get past the bs title...): http://techcrunch.com/2011/01/17/ios-android-breakdown/

Impromptu poll: Who really thinks a diatribe like this from TechCrunch can make Google or their carriers do anything different?

Just bought a Vibrant last week. After all the reported issues...I'm on the fence on whether to return it. It's a beautiful phone and seems faster than my Droid 2...even running Eclair. Still, the GPS is weak to non-existent at times, and although I can upgrade the phone myself I'd rather have an official version. Ugh.

Some galaxy S handsets have Froyo (see http://pages.samsung.com/ca/froyo/English/?pid=ca_home_subba...) others don't, like my Epic 4g. Is it really politics or QA challenges; no official word has been forthcoming.

Your link is to the Canadian site for phones configured for Canadian carriers. Not to be pedantic, but the content of the link is specific to the business practices of US carriers.

You mean we are being screwed over LESS than the US for a cellphone?

Oh damn - here comes the apocalypse, lions lying down with lambs, rivers of blood, oceans of fire - Canadians getting good deals on a cellphone.

U.S. Cellular at least just announced it will be rolling out Froyo on a bunch of their phones: http://www.gizmocrunch.com/android/4707-android-froyo-htc-de...

Sadly, this doesn't explain why my Cliq XT (called Quench down here) will be forever stuck with 1.5.

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.

this seems to make very little sense. most of the custom ROMs out there are based on Samsung's leaked 2.2 ROMs. If Samsung really didn't want to send out official updates for 2.2 they could stop the leaks and would kill XDA updates.

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

If this turns out to be true Samsung just lost a customer for life. This is just plain stupid, short sighted thinking.

This doesn't bode well for my Galaxy Tab running Froyo, hoping for Gingerbread and Honeycomb one day.

Somewhat related: how/when do we get Gingerbread on Nexus One?

The conflicting interests issue is really a problem in the Android space. As has been shown time and time again, vendors really don't want the burden of keeping your handset up to date forever because there is nothing in it for them, aside from perhaps avoiding too much negative press.

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.

"As has been shown time and time again, vendors really don't want the burden of keeping your handset up to date forever because there is nothing in it for them, aside from perhaps avoiding too much negative press."

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 ... ?

Depressingly true, but there's a flip side:

- 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.

I have an iPhone 3GS already, and there's no incentive for me to upgrade to iPhone 4.

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.

I would argue that there is a reason why Samsung, LG, Motorola, et al cannot follow this model – Apple is a player in the high end of the mobile market. They come out with a new phone once a year, and it's hotly anticipated because in most (if not all) respects the new phone will be the most impressive phone on the market. Couple that with new OS features, and it creates quite a buzz.

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.

Okay, I'll backup my assumption.

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 ;)

I'm assuming you're an iPhone owner.

> ou can expect timely (even major) updates to your iPhone for quite some time after release.

2+1 (2 years full support — barring hardware limitations — and 1 year partial support: some new features, but not everything)

3 years for a phone is enough.

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?

True to a point, but they don't have the luxury of assuming that you'll buy from them. Not upgrading their devices works against a repeat consumer, really, so you're just as, if not more, likely to help the bottom line of one of their competitors if they leave you in the cold.

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.

The Nexus One may not match the hardware specs of some of the newer phones, but that doesn't mean it is out of the game. My Nexus One is still fast and powerful, and outside of that one Unreal Engine 3 game, has no problems with any app. So my point is that even though other devices have better hardware, rarely is the Nexus One outdated.

> 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.

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.

That would just be a different user-hostile incentive.

How so? It aligns interests in virtually every way.

You're assuming that there's a decent amount of people who both have a pressing need for an OS upgrade and wouldn't revolt at the manufacturer charging them to access what is primarily a free update from AOSP. Furthermore, once one person pays $30 for the upgrade, that image can be freely passed around the tinkering communities, so the manufacturer has an incentive for even stronger consumer-hostile DRM.

(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.)

I might pay $30 for a major update but simply going from 2.1 to 2.2 or 2.3? Absolutely not. There aren't enough new features to justify this. The idea of mostly paying for bug fixes is totally unacceptable to me. I'll throw my SmartPhone in the garbage and go back to whatever free-with-contract junk phone they offer before I get held hostage for security and bug fixes.

Perhaps future Android devices should have universal upgradeability, and all the carrier has to do is update a table enabling the upgrade for your device - at your own risk. I'd be willing to take it.

> As has been shown time and time again, vendors really don't want the burden of keeping your handset up to date forever because there is nothing in it for them, aside from perhaps avoiding too much negative press.

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
Isn't this a violation of the GPL?

Just developing GPL software for a certain part of an embedded system doesn't necessarily require all other hardware parts to be GPL'ed as well, just as your BIOS being proprietary doesn't violate the GPL if you're running Linux.

Would be great to see a fully open-source phone some day. I believe OpenMoko was striving for this goal, too.

Not if it's a driver.

You mean, not if it's a driver with a GPL-compatible shim (a la nVidia).

Good point.

Part of the problem is that they haven't shipped Froyo officially. But yes, manufacturers, even HTC, have been up to 6 months late delivering code as required via GPL.

If Samsung release full source to their Eclair port, the community would be happy to forward-port the drivers to Froyo. But without source they can't.

Are we missing even Eclair source? I know Froyo and GB have changed things enough with some of the drivers that forward porting has been harder than expected... but if Eclair's source is missing, it seems the proper response is some sort of campaign to get Samsung in gear. I do think that HTC responded to GPL complaints when they had held out so long on releasing their kernel mods.

As I said elsewhere in the thread, vendors don't have to release source for drivers (kernel modules); AFAIK every Android phone uses proprietary GPU drivers at least. So even if a vendor released all the source that they're required to release, that may not be enough to create a custom ROM with a future version of Android.

This story was the one that broke the camel's back for me, in terms of waiting for Samsung/T-Mobile to ship a 2.2 update for the Vibrant. I dug around and found "Eugene's Ginger Clone" 2.2 ROM and installed it yesterday. My Vibrant is noticeably snappier, battery is lasting longer, and it's now devoid of bloatware.

Latest release announcement here: http://eb-productions.proboards.com/index.cgi?board=samsungs...

Video overview here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sCKsiH0wWgg

Really? Does this howto (http://wiki.cyanogenmod.com/index.php?title=Compile_Cyanogen...) not get CM7 running on the Vibrant?


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.

Just as one aside on this, it's pretty clear by now that it isn't simply a matter of doing a source control get and the vendor's work is done.

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 wouldn't be surprised if the in-house development costs rivaled or exceeded..."

I wonder how much of those costs go into Sense, Motoblur, Touchwiz, etc. Shipping stock android is surely less labor-intensive.

I wouldn't be surprised if the in-house development costs rivaled or exceeded what something like Windows Mobile cost to license.

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.

Actually, this is not true.

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.

I have no idea how the Windows Phone 7 dev kit works, however with CE it literally was configuring some flags and resources, and that was it.

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.

All current Windows Phone 7 devices are restricted to the Qualcomm QSD8x50 platform, so there isn't much customization to be done as the hardware is nearly the same for every vendor.

As far as I understand it, Windows Phone 7's API is Silverlight with a few restrictions related to screen size and the like.

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.

Why was this downvoted?

It confused the SDK for application developers with the hardware dev kit for OEMs, and was thus off-topic.

I got an X10 for free with upgrade over the holidays and love it. It makes me wonder if all the talk about version upgrades is mere noise. I'm relieved not to be affected by the Android SMS bug in Froyo, so will happily wait until it is fixed. Even if my phone ever sees an upgrade to Eclair, I probably won't notice with AT&T's customizations, which I like quite a bit. It's funny to hear the X10 described as a loser when I like it more than the iPhone. Oh, well, I liked XP more than Vista, too.

Wait, didn't everyone like XP more than Vista? I know I used Windows from version 3.1 right up until my experiences with Vista convinced me that spending an extra $1000 to get a MacBook Pro instead of a Vista laptop was completely worth it...

I am talking purely from a market perspective. The X10 was hotly anticipated and was set to make waves...but then it was announced that it was coming with 1.6 and that balloon deflated almost instantly. It is a gorgeous device, but a simple software misstep seriously hobbled its adoption.

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.

Great info, but in the back of my mind I'm thinking that this sort of leak really puts the pressure on Samsung and is highly advantageous to the carriers.

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