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HTC One X and One X+ will not receive KitKat; stuck on Android 4.2 forever (arstechnica.com)
25 points by derpenxyne 1287 days ago | hide | past | web | 47 comments | favorite

By coincidence HTC haven't received a penny from me other than my very first Android phone on which they took almost a year to upgrade to 2.3. I wouldn't consider another phone from them until they have a sustained track record of updates.

Perhaps the most striking turnabout in the Android space is Sony. Outside they have a reputation for being proprietary, crappy software, quick on the legal guns etc. Within the Android space they are exemplary. XDA love them, and Sony keeps stepping up with specs and software releases.


You completely misses the point.

Imagine you buy a computer from DELL with an nvidia card. And it came pre-installed with linux or windows. whatever version of those.

And you can't upgrade to the next kernel or UI, because nvidia won't release the drivers for that board. You have to wait until DELL asks nvidia for a binary blob driver for the new kernel, and then release it as a new linux update that will touch all the software you have.

This is exactly what happens on android.

My old phone is still on 2.3 simply because I can't drive the display and camera and radio on any other version. damn binary blobs. people have used 4.2 on this phone with a convoluted chain of translators for the 2.3 interfaces those binary drivers expect to the recent ones... but it is extremely buggy and messy (wrong memory writes all over the place)

So, the manufacturer's fault here is just not dealing with their providers to grantee drivers update, but ultimately, all of the current manufacturers are crappy in that aspect. you are just choosing one that provides you two versions, which is still dumb. less dumb than restricting yourself to one version, but still not the best way to go.

And it is not like they are defending any super secret information. It is just knee jerk reaction from some lawyers or some sales people trying to make the same margin twice.

...but everyone keep upgrading phones every year, so i think it is fine for everyone and the only sucker is me.

Yup. Whoever is in charge of the Xperia platform needs to start making notebooks.

> Within the Android space they are exemplary

You will often see this with someone coming into a new space. HTC used to be like this, very consumer friendly, then when they start to do well they change and become assholes.

They're not that bad with Playstations either. Especially recently, much of it is based on open source code recently (FreeBSD, GCC, curl, Mono, etc.) and publishing is pretty easy.

I was thinking about getting am HTC One to replace my nexus 4 since my contract is up. one thing I was worried about was updates. so this helped me decided not to make the switch.

Can't get the Nexus 5?

I am an ios user but have considered more and more switching to android - but stuff like this scares me away. I have heard many stories about phones not being updated or taking a very long time to update, including phones that were expected to be able to. How can you know which phone to pick that should get updates for at least 2 years if not longer?

It's really a non event. So much of what you need is no longer at the OS level but at the "Google Play" level if you will. iOS trains you to equate "great new stuff == OS upgrades" but Google has taken a very different route to ensure customers get the latest and greatest without worrying about OS fragmentation.

It isn't a non-event; you may not get some (or any) security fixes because the vendor didn't provide the latest Android update.

Given how much many people depend on their phones and how much information they usually have on them, I think security is pretty important.

That's why I got a Nexus 5; I'm confident I'll continue to see updates for some time.

This is the really important point. We've been protected so far by the fast evolution of phone hardware and the mass migration of people to smart phones. It's hard to perceive it but the game is now changing: we're into an iteration of phones now that the masses are purchasing that they may well hold onto for 5 years+. If security updates stop after 1.5 years, that's a terrifying mass of insecure phones holding everything from email accounts to bank details. Google can update a lot of things via the Play Store, but they can't patch kernel vulnerabilities or driver exploits.

Google really needs to include in their play store agreement some kind of requirement to ship critical security updates within a defined period of time. Yes, that's going to hurt - the maintenance burden of shipping an Android phone is going to rise dramatically if you inherit a burden of 5 years of updates. But then, critical security updates should be extremely incremental updates that rarely involve any functional changes to the user.

I'm not sure how the Android ecosystem is sustainable without something like this. At some point there will be an Android security apocalypse: an exploit that can't be fixed without a kernel update that affects hundreds of millions of legacy phones that have been abandoned by their makers.

I don't know why you feel confident, the old Nexuses stop getting updates too. They get them slightly longer than the average Android phone, but not by a lot.

Isn't Google Play only for Google's own software? It sounds like this strategy ensures that only Google can deliver the "latest and greatest," by limiting new capabilities to Google software and not making them available to any app developers.

Well the Google services are the "Core" services that you care about. Email, Browser, Google Now (all of the alert/notifications piece etc) Maps etc. So on an Android device once a month it seems like one of your major core apps is getting a meaningful overhaul. vs the Apple model where once a year or so you get a deluge of new goodies. And naturally other apps are always updating.

Then I guess there's been a big shift in Android's philosophy. Then Open Handset Alliance still says that "Android does not differentiate between the phone’s core applications and third-party applications." [1] But now it sounds like core applications get special treatment.

1: http://www.openhandsetalliance.com/android_overview.html

Android, the operating system, doesn't care at all if you replace the dialler, or the home screen app, or any other app.

What did happen about a year ago is google moved some of the communication framework stuff from android proper, and rolled it into 'google play services' so that it can be updated independently of the version of android on your phone.

As a result, apps like hangouts, plus, maps, the dialer and others which rely on those frameworks can be updated to use the newest version of the framework without worrying about the whether your population of phones have been updated to android x.y, any phone that has the play store installed and updated should be running a recent version of play services.

I believe what they mean is 3rd-party apps have the same access to the phone that our (Google's) apps do. The core apps aren't getting special treatment, Google is just deciding to update them more often than some of the 3rd-party apps out there.

But this is only for google services, what if it's a big security hole on a OS level or if you are not using the google services?

What's the end-result of that patchwork replacement in terms of stability and design consistency?

Ultimately? Nobody. Google has established that they just don't care that much about hardware-backwards-compatiblity with Android. They don't have the incentive to do so, for one thing - Apple has to think about the millions of iPhone 4 users when they push out a new version.

Google has to deal with a million different devices that are the same age as the iPhone 4, and their only "blessed" one, the GNex, doesn't exactly represent a large portion of their market... so they can't code up special tweaks and hacks for the OS to make it play nice on those the way Apple can do with the iPhone 4.

Until the break-neck pace of mobile development slows down or Google gets real traction with a Nexus phone, I don't expect this to change.

If 2 years of OS-level upgrades isn't enough, then Android isn't for you.

Like everyone did before the iPhone came into scene, switch mobile when it is time to renew the contract or switch operator.

OEMs and network operators are just playing the same music they used to play with their proprietary mobile OSs.

Apple managed to work around that, but I doubt any other will be able to.

> How can you know which phone to pick that should get updates for at least 2 years if not longer?

Pretty much impossible to predict. The safest bet is to either buy a Nexus phone (Nexus 4, 5, etc.) or maybe the GPE of a phone (S3, One, Moto X). Google stopped supporting the Galaxy Nexus so people were a bit miffed about that.

The good thing with Android is that even if your manufacturer/carrier decides to stop supporting your phone, you still have the opportunity to flash an updated ROM via third-party developers. Granted the performance probably won't be the best but at least you still have the option as opposed to iOS.

I have a Galaxy S, first generation and CyanogenMod works really well on it.

Unfortunately it only has like 384 MB of RAM or something like that, so many apps are problematic on it (e.g. I've had problems with the mobile versions of Firefox and Chrome, which need at least 512 MB). I do understand why Samsung stopped supporting it after Android 2.3 though. The phone's specs just can't keep up. I can say the same thing about an iPhone 3GS that I've got lying around.

Now I have a Nexus 4 and I can say that the best Android to get is always the latest Nexus - good hardware specs at a good price and it's the reference. Even if Google stops supporting it, heck, if CyanogenMod still supports the first-gen Galaxy S, then you can bet that it will work on a reference Nexus phone for a long time.

In a world where you replace your phone every two years, and you may get only one OS update in those two years for even a well supported phone, it's surprising how much people care about this. For tablets, I think it matters a bit more, since I think they'll have longer lifetimes.

I think you're right, but it's disappointing that that's the case; I think we've been at the "good enough" point for longer than we've realized. I recently dusted off my Galaxy Nexus and installed a Cyanogen build of 4.4 on it. After using it again, I prefer it to my prior Nexus 4 and Galaxy S3 and it isn't even close.

I cannot for the life of me understand why the Huawei Ascend P1 is faster than the newer Nexus 4. As soon as I upgrade Android to 4.4(Which was a huge hassle) the phone is perfect, it's thin and light and OLD and I just want to toss my stupid Nexus 4 away.

It has something to do with the screen latency and bunch of other factors.

The only ones I think you can bet on these days are the Google Play edition phones or even more so the Nexus line.

I've been using android for a while now but with the need for everyone to have their own UI on android and the lack of carrier updates I think if I can't get a Nexus phone for my next phone (would be a carrier issue) then I would probably go back to iOS.

I know it's become a trope to suggest Nexus devices for people worrying about OS upgrades, but any Google Play Edition phone should prevent you from having to worry about that. The issue is that most customers don't really care about OS upgrades, and until that changes, companies will have no reason to change.

What should really scare you is the pathetic performance of Android. Apps like chrome and acrobat reader are a joke! Stay with iOS or do as myself and get a Surface 2, it's much better in performance than any Android tablet, including the overrated and buggy Nexus 7 2013.

I switched from iOS to android and I haven't really found any issues over the last year.

the only thing I'm pretty certain of is that phones from Google will be supported longer and you'll get the updates before any other manufacturer.

Wondering about the same.

HTC has been letting customers down since the days they failed to bring Android 2.3 to the Desire.

They lost me there.

The article claims "The HTC One X and One X+ are dead!"

The thing to understand about HTC is that from a strategic perspective, they're trying to stand over a rift that only gets wider every month. On the one side, they can't afford to develop an operating system, runtime, and ecosystem on their own. On one other side, they need to somehow "add value" to the Android experience, either through software (i.e. "extras" or "rethinks") or through hardware (in which they have plenty of competition) or, at best, finding overlooked combinations of the two that they can provide (e.g. a power button that's also an IR remote for your TV.)

They don't have a truly stable platform on which to add these improvements. In many cases the platform will beat them to whatever it is they want to add, and they won't have anything "new" to promote as their own.

As (or if) Android matures gets closer to the point where each new version matters less than the last, then they'll eventually have something like a stable platform to further focus their efforts on making the smartphone they want to make. It all depends on how much their users care about new Android.

I don't have any armchair advice this decision, but it's interesting to consider the trade-offs they're making.

Disclosure: I used to work for HTC.

>As (or if) Android matures gets closer to the point where each new version matters less than the last,

Android will never get to that point. Technology, hardware as well as tastes and expectations change, and Android will always need to stay current. Some releases will be small, others will have huge rewrites, or additions.

In your estimation, how much would it cost for them to do the KitKat update?

I've no idea. I'm just saying it's a trade-off, and possibly not aligned with their desired strategy.

The HTC One S (released at the same time as the One X) didn't get anything past Android 4.1 Jelly Bean. I've taken my money elsewhere.

Where this hurts HTC is now people will avoid buying the HTC One because it probably won't get 4.5 (or whatever the next Android upgrade is).

Although by "people" I mean "tech-savvy people attuned to the existence and importance of OEM upgrade support"

Sad news for the android community and for the environment. What is the safest handset choice for android and how does it compare to the iPhone when it comes to updates after it has been discontinued ?

I previously thought that was the Nexus series, but my Galaxy Nexus isn't getting KitKat either, so even Google's own flagship phone series doesn't even get their own updates. They made some excuse about TI not being able to provide new OMAP drivers since they sold off that business...

Hmmm, that's just a lame excuse! Should take it for granted that was covered by the SLA they have with TI.

FWIW, CyanogenMod Android 4.4 runs awesome on the Galaxy Nexus. I had to give back my work hardware when I left my last company and the Galaxy Nexus was the last phone I'd personally bought. Put 4.4 on it and I have been happy as a clam. I was going to buy a Moto X or a Nexus 5, but I'm completely satisfied with the perf of this--and the battery life is way better than any Android phone I've owned since.

Safest choices would be the Nexus and Motorola (if only because Google wants Moto to set a good example of what support OEMs should provide, and it would provide a de facto lowest bar, as every other OEM said "well if even Google's own OEM won't update their phone to $latest_Android then why should I?")

If current momentum is any guide, Sony may be good in the future. But that's just conjecture and wishful thinking because I am soooo buying an Xperia Z1 Compact.

Consider this an inbound marketing opportunity for Cyanogenmod...

Sounds like a battle over camera software

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