Your new Android device doesn’t have Ice Cream Sandwich because the OS’s code is proving difficult to support on different hardware. That’s the word from senior vice president and general manager of Motorola’s Enterprise Business Unit, Christy Wyatt. Fingers are typically pointed toward manufacturers’ software customizations, but that just simply doesn’t tell the whole story.
When Google does a release of the software … they do a version of the software for whatever phone they just shipped, Wyatt said. Google’s latest flagship handset is, of course, the Galaxy Nexus. The rest of the ecosystem doesn’t see it until you see it. Hardware is by far the long pole in the tent, with multiple chipsets and multiple radio bands for multiple countries. It’s a big machine to churn.
To push updates out, manufacturers face a number of obstacles before it even gets certified for mass consumption. Once hardware support is figured out, custom software is overlaid for differentiation purposes, and then the devices must get re-certified by carriers. For anxious Android fans, that could mean months of waiting.
Compounding the issue even further is the sheer amount of Android handsets currently on the market. In Motorola’s case, it doesn’t just need to code for its Droid Razr, but its Droid Razr Maxx as well. The company also recently released two Xyboard tablet offerings for Verizon. Other manufacturers like HTC, Samsung, Sony and LG face the same complications as well. But handset makers are beginning to acknowledge the quantity vs. quality debate and, in HTC’s case, have expressed the desire to release fewer devices in 2012.
The issue of fragmentation has been one of Android’s biggest drawbacks, and while Wyatt’s words won’t make the upgrade process any smoother, they give a small behind the scenes look at why the newest OS takes so long to arrive. Hopefully as Google’s OS continues to mature, more handsets will get the latest and greatest Android has to offer faster.