Feeds

back to article HTC: Shipping Android updates is harder than you think – here's why

If you're wondering why your HTC smartphone hasn't been updated with the latest version of Android yet, the struggling smartphone vendor wants you to know it's not its fault – at least, not entirely. While Apple likes to brag about how quickly its iPhone and iPad devices receive updates to the latest iOS version, Android devices …

COMMENTS

This topic is closed for new posts.

Page:

Bronze badge

Harsh

They gave the timeframe for 4.4 on the HTC One and they're sticking to it. They gave dates for the Developer Edition and Google Play Edition and stuck to those so calling it out as though it's lagging behind on 4.4 seems harsh. In fact they're pushing harder than they ever have to update 2013 devices to 4.4 and while I don't own one it's encouraging to see them finally tackle the updates faster. Unfortunately as an owner of the 2012 flagship One X I'm not likely to even see 4.3 and that still saddens me.

Conclusion? I'm all for calling them out on abandoning phones too soon or lagging behind on updates but in this instance it isn't justified. What phones other than the Nexus 4 and Nexus 5 have 4.4 currently? (Rhetorical question)

6
0

phones other than the Nexus 4 and Nexus 5 have 4.4 ?

Moto X and even cheap as chips Moto G

0
0
Anonymous Coward

Re: Hence

I went over to he iDarkside.

7
10
Bronze badge

Re: phones other than the Nexus 4 and Nexus 5 have 4.4 ?

Those slipped my mind but given they're made by Google owned Motorola I think you can almost throw them in with the Nexus line. It sums up what I was getting at though. Very few devices outside of the Nexus line currently have 4.4 available and it felt like a cheap shot.

6
1

Re: the Moto G

My Moto G (SIM-free from phones4u) is still on 4.3.

4.4 has allegedly been promised for January, though.

2
0
Silver badge

Re: Hence

That's the trade off with Apple. They release an upgrade and it's usually compatible with most of their phones (although sometimes not all features will work with all phones) but to be fair this is at the expense of choice. Apple only needs to test it against a few phones and several steps are in house for Apple that aren't for Android phone makers. I'm not suggesting either approach is better, it's just a choice between pretty much guaranteed updates for a couple off years (by which point you will probably upgrade) or having more choice over the specification of your phone. I would not be shocked to find that Samsung released more phone variants in 2013 than Apple have released in total.

13
1

This post has been deleted by its author

Re: the Moto G

4.4.2 being rolled out for 10 days already

1
1

Re: phones other than the Nexus 4 and Nexus 5 have 4.4 ?

"stop talking crap DrainB the moto x is to get kitkat on the 9th of jan if all is ready"

Well, sucks to be you as my Moto G got it on 21st of December. Call it karma.

Who owns Motorola is irrelevant, Motorola devices are not Nexus devices.

1
5
Anonymous Coward

Re: Harsh but consider

Samsung may now consider a propriety operating system that incorporates android apps.

0
0

Re: Harsh but consider

They would have to provide copies of all the Google Apps as well though which would be difficult..

Although Android itself is open source if any manufacturer tries to break away with a fork then there is a lot of 'lock in' making the transition very difficult and expensive...Thats why Google has been moving a lot of the added functionality out of the core OS into Play Apps

1
0
Anonymous Coward

Re: Harsh

BUT there is a bigger timeline that they need to stick to: 18 months, according to Google:

https://support.google.com/nexus/answer/3468085?hl=en

0
0
Bronze badge

Re: Harsh

" What phones other than the Nexus 4 and Nexus 5 have 4.4 currently? (Rhetorical question)"

I'll answer anyway!

I have a Galaxy Note running KitKat Omni thanks to the efforts of the community developers and ROM builders. This for me is the joy of Android

3
0

Re: Harsh

I am running 4.4.2 on my S3. Thanks to those over at XDA Developers.

2
0
Slx

The biggest hold up for my HTC One seems to have been carrier requirements.

Every time there's been an update, other Irish networks have had their software months before Three!

I would love to know what carrier-specific updating actually needs to be done. Aren't all carriers just using GSM/UMTS/LTE networks that conform to GSM Association / ETSI / ITU standards?

It strikes me as a bit like testing appliances for each power company's electricity. It's all the same stuff.

11
2
Silver badge
Big Brother

Some Irish networks are faster than others to insert their spy software that forwards your call/text history information to GCHQ, in case us silly yanks let our guard down and some guy escapes with documents that prove that Google has been cooperating with the NSA and that the NSA has also been hacking them as a backup plan to that.

In that case the backup plan to the backup plan, the carrier back door that lets GCHQ and the NSA at your data, needs to take over, until they can come to a new secret arrangement with Google and hack them in a new way as a backup plan.

11
2
Slx

I'd say it's more a case of getting their bloody start-up logo animation in!

14
0
Anonymous Coward

Certainly T-Mobile were totally useless when it came to shipping updates.

Mind you Samsung are pretty crap at it too - two goes at 4.3 both of which are broken.

1
2
Silver badge

"Mind you Samsung are pretty crap at it too - two goes at 4.3 both of which are broken."

4.3 is working fine on my S3 and the missus' S4 and we've never had problems with updates on them or our old Galaxy Ss. But then if you were posting anything other than a cheap shot you would have specified a model and carrier that you were having issues with.

4
1
Anonymous Coward

Suggest you look at Samsung Mobile UK's Facebook page ( https://www.facebook.com/SamsungMobileUK ) and look at the posts made by others - you'll see its not a cheap shot. They aborted one 4.3 roll out ( http://www.theregister.co.uk/2013/11/19/samsung_s3_upgrade_pulled/ ) and the second one is causing a lot of pain as well.

No carrier involved in a lot of cases - lots of stock S3 and S4 models having problems and Samsung's default answer of "Do a factory reset" doesn't fix the issues.

2
1

The real biggest holdup

I don't care what device you have, someone will decide they want to build the new version at home. The real problem is chip manufacturers deciding that you have to be in their special club to get the datasheet for a device you bloody own.

This nonsense of commercial non disclosure agreements for how to operate your own hardware strikes me as adding costs to absolutely everybody involved.

10
0
Bronze badge

I'd say it's more a case of getting their bloody start-up logo animation in

That and all the other bits of c*** software that are glued into Android devices whether you want them or not ( or indeed even know what they're for).

2
0
FAIL

Lmfao. Are you seriously still holding onto this urban legend ? That was disproven ages ago. Even Samsung admitted they only release one update and one upgrade for a device. It's in rare situations a device will get further updates. They want you buying a new phone.

Carriers are the last step. Read the article. The longest part happens way before the carriers are even involved. The real issue is they limit their off shored development until they get to the certified release. Their slowness would be reduced if they actually paid more for development.

1
4

Re: The real biggest holdup

How I wish I could upvote that 100 times. Closed hardware is the biggest barrier to Android updates and alternative "ROM"s - look at devices like the Galaxy Y S5360 with the Broadcom BCM21553 chipset - which doesn't have an updated BLOB so no chance of Cyangenmod running on it - even if it did have enough memory.

1
1
Silver badge

Re: love to know what carrier-specific updating actually needs to be done.

If I were a betting man I'd put half a month's salary on there not being much. However,...

The carrier probably still needs to do the testing for purposes of liability insurance(s). At that point both Samsung and the punter are at the mercy of the resource allocation from the carrier.

0
0
Anonymous Coward

HTC - Hardware Technology Challenging

I was pleasantly surprised when my HTC One XL upgraded itself from Android 4.0.1 to 4.3 recently, as most handset makers don't seem to bother, and just use the newer OS as a carrot to persuade customers to buy a new phone. So kudos to HTC.

The only thing I would say to them is get rid of those awful adverts with Robert Downey Jnr and try sell the phone on its own merits instead.

4
2

Re: HTC - Hardware Technology Challenging

Heh, I am actively resisting the update on my HTC One X.

I got a Samsung Galaxy III, but it didn't work with my car's bluetooth handsfree (which had worked with the previous 6 phones), so I changed it for the One X, which also didn't work with the handsfree. A couple of months later, the One X got an OTA update and now half works ( You have to switch it on, wait to pair, switch it off, switch it on again and it pairs on the second try ) with the handsfree.

I daren't let it update again as it might stop working again.

Serves me right for paying good money for non-Free technology.

1
1

Re: HTC - Hardware Technology Challenging

The issue is probably with the car kit.

2
0
kbb

What's missing...

...is a timeline. How long, for example, does it takes to incorporate Sense™ vs. the other steps?

5
0
Bronze badge
Stop

Thats pretty much what I expected.

I have no horse in this race, but given androids ubiquity, if the public percieves HTC to be lagging with it's updates I'd assume that's because they're comparing it with other manufacturers handsets on their chosen carrier rather than that they're a moany old lot that don't understand how many steps are involved.

This is the second 'eating out of the hand that feeds us' article I've read today btw, the other one was Microsoft pulling Nokia maps from their competitor because 'mumble UI mumble degraded mumble' and certianly not for any other reason.

Please don't let this become a trend.

Yours sincerely,

Jubs

5
0
Bronze badge

blame linux?

Don't get me wrong I've been a linux user for about 16 years now, and linux on the desktop for at least 12 of those.. but I suspect a decent part of the problem is changing(breaking) the driver interfaces in the kernels as they come out significantly increasing the amount of work required to support a new android, instead of just dropping the older binary code on top of the newer kernel. Hard core open source folks say just release the source, a lot of times that is not feasible(and even with source it only solves part of the problem).

*I am not complaining* (learned to live with it), I've been an android user for almost 5 days now (WebOS before that). But I do believe it was a sufficiently large contributor for linux never making any inroads on desktop market share (because you really had to rely on drivers that came with the distribution - and distributions for the most part seemed bad about back porting driver updates to support new hardware). Their "solution" is to upgrade to a newer distro (and take other downsides that may come with that, all I want is a newer driver). For me it's not a big deal I just compile the driver(s) myself. Obviously that doesn't work for a normal user :)

An example I use is Intel e1000e(which is fully open source) driver and Ubuntu 10.04 LTS. They haven't updated the e1000e driver I suspect since 10.04 came out, and each time a kernel update occurred I have to compile a new driver. On my desktop/laptop I just disabled kernel upgrades now (even though desktop LTS is end of life the kernel and non desktop related things still get updates). I have absolutely no interest in going to a newer Ubuntu, maybe I'll go to mint or something when the time comes(which at this point I think is when I do my next hardware refresh), or maybe generic Debian which I use on all of my personal servers.

I suspect not many folks outside of the tech community care if their android devices get major OS upgrades.

It seems like the track record in general for major OS upgrades on mobile devices isn't that hot anyway, seem to get lots of breakage.

of course something like a stable binary interface to drivers is probably a boring, hard thing to get right so developers shift the blame to someone else, because they are lazy(and in some cases not being paid). I had hoped a decade ago this problem would of been solved by now but it seems that it'll never get fixed.

3
6

Re: blame linux?

There have been a number of articles that suggest that the Linux kernel API is volatile by design. Part of it comes from Linux still having a foot in the research and software theory world. Part of it comes from a passive-aggressive desire to eliminate private code trees. I suspect that as long as Android is based on Linux, driver compatibility will continue to be a problem, just as it is with private binary blobs on the desktop.

Makes me wonder if they would have been better off if they had used FreeBSD instead of Linux.

3
5
Anonymous Coward

Re: blame linux?

Yup. I'd suggest Nate switched to FREEBSD too

0
3

Re: blame linux?

Kernel that Android uses is not volatile in any way as Google has full control over kernel code and may choose to or not to implement any changes in API, so there's no driver compatibility issues whatsoever. They may even choose to write totally different kernel not using any Linux code but keeping API the same and no one would ever notice.

6
0
Anonymous Coward

Re: blame linux?

Sony didn't use Linux for the PS4, so they must have had their reasons.

1
2
Bronze badge

Re: blame linux?

"Sony didn't use Linux for the PS4, so they must have had their reasons."

It would seem that their choice was mostly because of licensing - the FreeBSD guys seems remarkably relaxed about what people do with their code and aren't fussed over whether people openly release their own tweaks, etc. That's ideal for someone looking for a customisable OS that doesn't oblige them to release things like DRM tweaks.

From a purely technical point of view I reckon Linux is the better OS of the two performance-wise [semaphores, context switch times, etc] on modern multi-core CPUs. So that must have made Linux a tempter for Sony, but commercial considerations are always going to override a purely technical choice.

6
1

Re: blame linux?

While Google is free to make a hard fork of Linux at any point in order to keep the Android kernel API stable, doing so would inevitability cause drift to be introduced. Depending on how far that drift goes, it could make importing new features from the main Linux tree very laborious. One of the main points of using Linux is that you get to easily ride the coattails of other peoples' work.

3
0
Silver badge

Re: blame linux?

API, not so much. ABI? Well yeah, there's been some developers who have an insane desire to deliberately break stuff.

It's one thing for one of your kernel updates to mess with Nvidia's kernel driver module. Another thing to go out of your way to break it and make life difficult for everyone involved. But, some people are quite happy with their special little 0.5% and don't want it getting any bigger.

I don't care if they are leet hacksaw kernel devs, I call such people "fucking idiots".

3
0
Bronze badge

Re: blame linux?

@Nate Amsden: Sorry, I am missing something here. I've been a Linux desktop (and server, or course) user for almost 20 years now, and I have never had to compile the e1000e driver except when I decided to build a custom kernel for R&D or for fun. I can't recall any significant HW driver problem for the last 15 years or so [at least with Linux - Windows is another matter :-)]. That includes the notoriously unfriendly, closed-source Nvidia and a fairly wide variety of old, new, and esoteric HW at work (admittedly, more servers than desktops) and sometimes at home. As far as I am concerned Linux driver problems are FUD. Come to think of that, apart from Nvidia I don't recall when I had to *install* a driver last time.

Yes, the kernel interfaces are not guaranteed to be stable, famously and intentionally. But if you need to compile e1000e by hand when you switch to a newer Ubuntu then Mr. Shuttleworth does something *really* wrong. I don't know what - I don't use Ubuntu, but it just does not sound reasonable. FWIW, my laptop uses e1000e - I had to check because I never knew, through many versions of Fedora and uncounted yum-installed kernels over years. It just works.

None of this is of any relevance to Android. Not sure about Ubuntu phones though.

I realize that the various ARMs may be problematic - but that has little to do with Linux, except for Android being actually able to support all of them. iOS would be in the same situation if they only tried.

5
0
Bronze badge

Re: blame linux?

Even if the Linux kernel was the problem (which is not) the internal ABI/API doesn't change that drastically from one point release to the next.

Most manufacturers are slow because they are slow for one reason or another, the most common reason is that they want you to buy another phone.

All this crap about porting "sense" is nonsense, you do think that they do not have an ongoing development cycle with their on internal software to have it ready for newer models?

They are not keen on you getting upgrades, no matter how you look at it because their appreciation is that it doesn't have a significant ROI in comparison with forcing people to buy a newer model.

Well, they are wrong, really wrong, I bought a Nexus 4 because it was cheap and upgradeable, and my next phone is a Nexus 5 because it is upgradeable. I used Samsung's before but bitten in the ass once by broken flash memory, and later lack of updates. Looked at HTCs but all they looked like Samsung wannabes.

Anybody I know who cares about updates is on a Nexus or thinking of getting one.

Manufacturers should start thinking that they are selling us small laptops, not disposable phones.

1
0
Vic
Silver badge

Re: blame linux?

> I have never had to compile the e1000e driver

I have. It's an Ubuntu-ism. We use Ubuntu at work.

Unfortunately, many seem to believe that Ubuntu === Linux.

Vic.

3
0

Re: blame linux?

> I had hoped a decade ago this problem would of been solved

<pedant>

s/would of/would have/

</pedant>

1
0
Bronze badge

Re: Most manufacturers ... want you to buy another phone.

Most manufacturers are slow because they are slow for one reason or another, the most common reason is that they want you to buy another phone.

DING DING DING!!!!!

We have a winner!!!!!!

0
0

Not much of an excuse

I've worked for several computer manufacturing companies, and that looks like roughly the same process for pretty much everyone. I expect Apple's process looks very similar.

This looks like a lame excuse to me. It appears that they are saying that if the chipset manufacturers won't support the new update, then the phone/device is unable to updated at all. Which is false. I've had many old phones that stop getting manufacturer updates, yet can get Andriod updates through 3rd parties, like CyanogenMod.

15
2

Re: Not much of an excuse

And that's precisely why CM has permanent issues with cameras, wi-fi, screens, BT and lots more - because manufacturers do not release their drivers. And to be honest if any manufacturer released anything of CM quality it'd went broke in a month dealing with returns. CM is "just" good enough because there's not much else and it's free as in you get what you paid for.

3
6

Re: Not much of an excuse

CM11 (AOSP 4.4.2) on my rather creaky Sony Xperia P is just about flawless.

Bearing in mind it's still on nightly releases, once the OMX (video playback/recording) issue is sorted out, which is half done and always the last bit to get fixed on Xperia devices, it'll be perfect. I expect RC versions before the end of January if not sooner. CM is considerably faster and more stable than Sony's offerings ever have been on this phone.

From what I can tell over at XDA, there's only two people developing CM for the Xperia P. Part time, unpaid.

Obviously milage varies depending on device, but in my experience CM is superb.

4
0
Bronze badge

Re: Not much of an excuse

Samsung... is that you?

0
0
Vic
Silver badge

Re: Not much of an excuse

> that looks like roughly the same process for pretty much everyone.

Yep. The only big difference I see between that and STB development (which I did for many years) is that the code tends to be available as source for Android, as opposed to an opaque blob for most intergration jobs.

> This looks like a lame excuse to me

I was thinking exactly the same. I'd put money on it that what *really* prevents releases being ported to older hardware is some PHB deciding that it won't make them enough money this quarter.

As has been mentioned elsewhere, a big part of retaining your customer base is being seen to be supportive of your existing users. So the short-term gain of abandoning a device is almost certainly outweighed by the long-term loss of customers pissed off at nopt getting the support they expected.

Vic.

3
0

Re: Not much of an excuse

Cyanogenmod is amazing - 30 minutes work will see 4.4.2 installed onto your Huawei Y300, a great phone which you can pick up for under 40 quid at Crap-phone Whorehouse.

0
0

HTC is not in a business of updates

It is in a business of selling NEW phones which works better if there's no updates. Eventually some odd user will be pissed and stop buying from you, but with new sucker born every minute and average lifespan of a phone now of about 12 months it does not matter.

13
0

Page:

This topic is closed for new posts.