One among few complaints common among Android community is the rate at which software updates arrive or never arrives. Even the newly launched flagship phones sometimes suffer from the lack of latest update like in the case of Verizon Galaxy Nexus, the Android flagship phone which got its Android 4.2 update just a few days ago.
This problem is not new as users are waiting to get this fixed from years. So why haven’t Android developers had sorted out something to resolve this drawback till now. I researched a lot about Android carrier manufactures, android developers and google’s policies to find out what the hold-up was.
Requirements for a software update
After launching of an update to the time it is configured for your phone, three steps are to be followed by the Android developers and your carrier manufacturer.
Firstly the code development phase in which phone’s hardware is made capable of communicating with the Operating System is done by the chip makers. Unlike other mobile operating systems the Android has numerous chip makers and developers due to diversity of Android devices(Qualcomm, Texas Instruments, Nvidia, Samsung,etc.), even a single company makes multiple chips(eg. Qualcomm’s Snapdragon S3, S4,),on an average it costs valuable two months of the chip makers in developing codes for the chips .
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In the next phase the software is moved to the manufacturers where the phone maker customize the software update for their each and every phone and tablet as each and every device is made with slightly different components. In addition each and every hardware of every device have their specific software requirements. Handset manufacturers also need to customize the handset in terms of their third-party user interfaces. After receiving the updates from Google it takes 45 -60 days for the manufacturer to when it can send it to the carrier.
The next and last phase takes us to the thrilling world of carrier testing. The carrier manufacturers have to test the new software not only for each and every phone they are going to offer in near future but also to the devices they are already offering or had guaranteed to bring up an updated version.
The testing departments have limited resources, time, people and equipment’s to do their enormous always underrated task. The have to test all the versions of a phone compatible for different networks i.e CDMA, GSM, LTE and the new favorite in Europe the VoLTE with multiple band widths issues dependent on the regions where the carrier needed to be sold.
A validation team does everything from tests for the hardware to standard tests against performance metrics of the phone. The check for each and every problem that can arise due to some lack of software enhancement and then test the reason for the slowdown through their automated systems.
Before getting the Technical Acceptance they had made sure that they are maintain their standards .
Why are iOS updates so fast?
One of the greatest myth surrounding the smart phone arena is that Apple updates are comparably faster than Android updates. Whenever apple announces an update you can download it on the same day or in next two days. So, how did Apple administer to bounce these exhaustive carrier-testing that everyone else had to go through? Actually it didn’t. They had gone through all exhausting carrier testing before the announcement.
Actually when Google announces a software update they are launching it at the platform-level only, and after they allow OEMs access to it so that they can build network integration layer for the software. It seems that Android process takes much longer time. It doesn’t. Google just do the half work, and then it’s up to the manufacturer and carriers to take it the rest of the way so that it will work on a network.
Apple have the advantage here as it not only develops the OS but also manufactures the hardware. The less device components that are used for adapting the OS to the existing hardware (all of which is done in-house) is a faster, more seamless process.
A lot of Android theorists have come to the wrapping up about updates is that manufacturers and/or carriers deliberately delay software upgrades to older devices in order to may way for the sale of the new devices.
How Can Android Updates Can Get Better?
There are two methods for resolving this situation. On the commercial end, manufacturers can extent the launching time of devices. By limiting their device profiles, HTC and Motorola are able to focus on phones that will survive in the long game. Then, in theory, since they have less devices, their resources won’t get distributed for several devices when working on upgrades.
Consumers aren’t totally toothless, though. Every android phone today on the market today can be rooted. One of the best reasons to root your Android phone is that you can almost always download the latest updates weeks before they are officially released. There is some risk involved however in rooting your android device as you may be putting software on your phone that isn’t entirely ready for primetime. The best you can do is know your sources and read reviews for the build you’re putting on .