back to article Google Chrome suffers brain freeze on Android Ice Cream Sandwich

Google says Chrome 42 will be the last version for phones, tabs and other things running Android 4.0 to 4.0.4, aka Ice Cream Sandwich (ICS). People using ICS will just get security updates for Chrome after version 42 is released. Users running Android 4.1, aka Jelly Bean, and later will continue to get major new versions of …

  1. frankgobbo

    Moving on..

    That's great and all, telling people to move on already.

    Perhaps then, they could instruct all of the handset manufacturers to actually RELEASE a new version for their phones? It surely isn't up to everybody to jailbreak and hack their devices?

    This is the main issue with Android. As soon as the manufacturer decides they can't be arsed supporting a model anymore, you're stuffed - and it's not a long support period.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Mushroom

      Re: Moving on..

      This is the main issue with Android. As soon as the manufacturer decides they can't be arsed supporting a model anymore, you're stuffed

      Which in my experience has been about 5 microseconds after the product leaves their factory and about 5 years before it stops shipping.

      1. DougS Silver badge

        Re: Moving on..

        Its funny that one of the Apple haters favorite tacks was claiming that Apple wants iPhones to be disposable and people to get new ones. Apple supported the 3gs with security updates almost five years after it first sold (and they might not be done yet...we'll see if they provide an iOS 6 update for that OpenSSL/SecureTransport bug mentioned earlier today on the Reg)

        Apple makes a lot of money from selling an iPhone. They want to keep those customers happy. Aside from Samsung, Android OEMs make very little money or lose money selling Android phones, so it seems to me that unlike Apple they have little incentive (or funding) for supporting them after sale.

        The argument against "Android fragmentation" has always been how Google apps can be patched independently of the OS, so even if your vendor doesn't give you updates Google can fix a lot of security issues by updating the browser, etc. So much for that idea!

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Moving on..

          Am I bovvered? Mobile Chrome is and always has been complete shite because of it's unusable interface. There are other much better Android browsers. Opera, Boat and Dolphin to name but three.

          1. DryBones
            Holmes

            Re: Moving on..

            Totally unsure of what you're talking about. As far as my experience has been, it's a clean and simple interface. What are you confused about?

        2. xchknfrmr

          Re: Moving on..

          I've been using a Blu Life Play for a year and a half and have gotten 3 OTA updates from Android 4.2 to 4.4.2. So some manufacturer/distributers DO update their devices.

          Of course, the device comes with an extremely lightly customized version of Android so it may be that keeping the manufacturer's modifications & additions to the OS work in the favor of both the manufacturer and the consumer.

      2. Voland's right hand Silver badge

        Re: Moving on..

        Which in my experience has been about 5 microseconds

        Depends on the manufacturer and not only on the manufacturer.

        Google themselves keep everything up to date - you can get 5.0.2 across the board.

        Sony and prior to that Sony Ericsson keeps them reasonably up-to date for a couple of years. There were some exemptions where an operator has refused updates (hello O2), but otherwise looking at my phones they are at 4.3 or thereabouts while shipping initially with 4.0 or 4.1

        Samsung _ALSO_ keeps them up to date regardless what people say, however it does it only for the generic builds. If you have a phone or a tablet customized for an operator you are stuffed.

        LG and HTC - do not know

        Lenovo and prior to that Motorola as well as everybody else - you are stuffed.

        You just need to factor this into what you want from the phone. Foregoing the operator penny is a good start - any updates will need an operator certification and they simply cannot be bothered to do it.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Moving on..

          I had a Samsung Galaxy Nexus, a Google branded device with plain vanilla Android 4.0 on it when I bought it. Sure, I got 4.1, 4.2 and 4.3. But no 4.4, because Google decided that it was more than 18 months old (I'd had it less than two years) and so they would not support the device further due to the effort involved in supporting 'older' devices. Effectively obsolete less than two years after I bought it.

          I've never had an iphone, but I have an ipad 2 which is around 5 years old now and got iOS 8 on that.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Moving on..

            ^ This!!

            My last phone was also a Galaxy Nexus. I bought it inspite of it being overpriced and its underwhelming specs because I wanted a phone that would be supported for a couple of years without having to hack about with it like I needed to with my HTC desire.

            Little known to me there were actually 2 OS builds for the GN. One distributed by google and one by Samsung themselves. Well, lucky me got the Samsung version. The only difference seemed to be that they never pushed any OTA updates whilst google were releasing a steady stream of minor fix releases. Now the first 6 months of the GN's life the OS suffered from frequent random reboots so almost straight away I had to unlock and flash the stock roms just to see if the new software would help. This didn't fix the random reboots, though, and it wasn't solved until 4.1 was released.

            The software was a little disappointing in that respect but the hardware on this device wasn't all that cracking either. The phone was pretty cheap feeling for a £550 phone and the camera sucked. Add to that the charging pin was flimsy and crap and often bends leaving it unchargeable without bending it back. Oh, and the GPS sucked. I was pretty spoilt with my HTC desire, which actually had a clue where I was. The GN often couldn't seem to figure it out within 100 metres. The phone failed within 6 months (wouldn't power on) and had to be sent back to Samsung, who in fairness were quick to fix the issue and return the phone working, kindly downdated back to 4.0.1.

            But at least it is supported for two or 3 years I thought. Unfortunately 18 months from launch this underwhelming device Google dropped updates, whilst simultaneous lecturing OEM's on how they must provide 2 years of updates. Left at the mercy of Cyanogen, I'm grateful that that did a reasonable job of keeping the phone current, but was another hassle and not entirely without problems on the way.

            So last week I upgraded my GN to a new phone. An iPhone 6+. My phone is important to my job. It needs to work and it needs to be reliable. Most of all I need confidence in it, something I never had in the GN from the day it arrived. I'll perhaps buy an android tablet mostly because of price, but I don't see any motivation to pay top whack for a phone that will be out of date 10 minutes after it shipped.

        2. RAMChYLD

          Re: Moving on..

          I can vouch that HTC is a piece of crap.

          Releases Gingerbread device during the era of Ice Cream Sandwich, and immediately drops support after.

          The HTC ChaCha just isn't giving me the mileage I expect out of it. Even my ancient Nokia N97 outlived the damn ChaCha. And now I've moved on to Blackberry (because they were the only ones still making Qwerty keyboard phones). Just got a 10.3.1 update a few days ago- it was a PITA to install, and still has some glitches, but was worth it.

    2. Jason Hindle Bronze badge

      Re: Not just the manufacturers

      I waited a long time for an OS upgrade to my Samsung S3, because Orange/EE wanted their say in when it rolled out!

      Fast forward to now, and my Nexus 5 is good for at least one more major upgrade (which will come soon after the next major release). Google (and Apple too) support their products reasonably well (and without the consent of the networks).

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I doubt very much the problem is the version of Android and more to do with the bloat that Chrome drags around with it.

    Even on Lollipop, my 2012 N7 is next to useless the minute Chrome has been loaded. The UI takes seconds to respond to almost any action, it's been in a draw with a flat battery for a month (another side effect of Chrome) waiting for me to put 4.4 back on it, I better be quick.

    1. Piro

      Please

      I believe that's also the nand failing.

    2. ilmari

      On my asus transformer from about the same time era, chrome (and to a lesser extent firefox) spends much of its time writing to the slow emmc. I believe the N7 was also plagued by an extremely slow emmc with around 1-4 WIOPS performance?

      This issue is something that has persisted with browsers for a longer time, across platforms. firefox was notoriously slow on Linux, due to the way it wrote cache and browsing history with sqlite. This issue is amplified further on flash based storage, where each tiny write triggers a 8 megabyte read-modify-write cycle. sqlite, being a database ish thing, is paranoid about dataloss, and makes sure the data is on physical storage after each step, with the end result that appending a new url to browser history, to a storage medium where every write request regardless whether it's 50 bytes or 8 megabytes takes on the order of 1 second to complete, you're looking at several seconds just to add to browsing history, let alone disk cache for images etc...

      Ever since flash storage started appearing, programmers stopped caring about how they write stuff to disk, because "no moving parts, it's instant so I don't have to care". SSDs only started working like that, through the use of large Arm cores and massively complicated firmwares (that still today occasionally mess up), around the era of Intel M-25 and ocz vertex. Today if you're not careful, you'll get an emmc that still behaves as poorly as the one in N7.

      Probably the only company that pays any attention to the issue is Motorola, with the use of f2fs, a filesystem which tries to make life easier for the emmc, boosting performance.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        I thank you both for your informative comments. Chrome on my N5 while experience wise runs fine still heats the phone excessively.

        A quick Google based on your nand theory suggests I run fstrim:

        "Due to a bug with the driver for the Nexus 7’s internal Samsung NAND storage, Android on the Nexus 7 was not properly issuing TRIM commands to clear unused sectors. This caused write speeds to slow down dramatically. This was fixed in Android 4.1.2, and Android should now properly be issuing TRIM commands to the internal storage."..."However, this update does nothing to fix existing sectors that should have been TRIMMed in the past, but were not"

        I'll give this a bash, then downgrade, then consider a replacement tablet.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    And what do you *lose* moving off ICS ?

    I've just upgraded an HTC Wildfire from ICS to a Cyanogen version of KK.

    There's an awful lot that's changed, with **** all systematic documentation to guide you.

    Definitely not something for people who haven't got a lot of experience in hacking around.

    1. phil dude
      WTF?

      Re: And what do you *lose* moving off ICS ?

      Well AC, I can't disagree. I have had a TF101 which the f*cking manufacturers will not update. I just got the Mot-E 4G which comes with lollipop and the BRAIN DEAD GOOGLE sync mechanism pulls in apps for a tablet onto a phone.

      Google owns hardware and software components.

      How can they not make a phone that works with out needing to download a ton of spam filled apps?

      P.

      1. Captain Queeg

        Re: And what do you *lose* moving off ICS ?

        "How can they not make a phone that works with out needing to download a ton of spam filled apps?"

        Because that delicious spam filling pays for the underlying "free" OS (free to the manufacturer mind, not to us!). No such thing as a free lunch. You're as bad burned as scalded or any other down home expression you can think of...

        Capitalism is a double edged sword.

      2. David Paul Morgan

        Re: And what do you *lose* moving off ICS ?

        I put a kit-kat variant on my tf101 and gave it to my brother.

        runs perfectly well.

      3. Longtemps, je me suis couche de bonne heure

        Re: And what do you *lose* moving off ICS ?

        I think you will find that Lenovo now own Motorola, so big G no longer responsible for hardware

  4. Duncan Macdonald Silver badge

    Another good reason to use Firefox instead of Chrome

    A large number of phones are stuck on 4.2 or earlier - thankfully Firefox supports 2.3 and later.

    (In my opinion it is also a better browser.)

  5. Wokstation

    Prod Sony then!

    I bought a Sony tablet s (original)a couple of years ago. It's still going strong. Not had an OS update for it since the day I bought it, which was to ICS. I expected Sony to support it, turn out I was just being green - it used to play PlayStation games, but Sony pulled that, and no OS updates since.

    Just as well I don't use chrome, but I doubt it'll stop at chrome...

  6. Fungus Bob Silver badge
    FAIL

    "building new experiences"

    To: All GlobalCorps

    Subject: U talk stoopit

    Please stop the marketing drivel, if I want new experiences I'll take a sex vacation in Thailand instead of buying a new gizzywickus.

    Sincerely,

    F. Bob

  7. Updraft102 Silver badge

    Give me a better option than ICS and I will consider it, Google

    I will upgrade from ICS 4.0.4 when Google releases a later version of Android that is acceptable to me.

    I don't have a smart phone, and I don't plan on getting one. I have a Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 7.0-inch, which is not a phone. It's a tablet. Not only is it a tablet, but it's not a phone.

    Google used to recognize that one size does not fit all, and that tablets are not phones. ICS has a tablet UI and a phone UI, and they're different. Tablets are usually held in landscape, so there is plenty of room in the horizontal, but not so much vertically... so the tablet UI has one system/notification bar along the bottom of the screen, and it's perfect for the tablet.

    Starting with JB, Google began to phase out the tablet UI they had just introduced. Smaller tablets like mine would now have the phone UI, while larger tablets would keep the tablet UI... until the next version of Android landed, and the tablet UI was not a part of it.

    Now Google is telling us we need the same UI on every device, lest we get confused. It does not matter that a tablet is much larger and is usually held in a different orientation! One size fits all, and the people at Google will tell you what that one size shall be. Maybe we could have an option, turned off by default, to restore the tablet UI on tablets, leaving the less-savvy users (who would never even be aware of such an option) blissfully free of confusion? Of course not... Google has issued their ruling, and the dictates of Google shall not be questioned. If your opinion differs from that of Google, it is because they are smart and you are dumb; they are right and you are wrong. So no, they won't be allowing an option for us to do it wrong. They will force us to do it the right way, and that will be that.

    How would things work if Google dictated how cars operate? Would my car have handlebars and controls exactly like a motorcycle, even though it is much larger and poorly suited for such a setup, lest I run the risk of getting confused when switching from one to the other (which has probably never happened to a motorcyclist with more than three brain cells)? Why should the fact that they are different vehicles mean they should be operated differently?

    Google, of course, also makes the Chrome browser. I still have not found a browser that is any good on Android, and I have tried them all. They all lack attributes or features that I require in a browser (foremost among them being a navigation/url bar that does not hide, and a text rewrap on zoom feature that works). Some have gotten close; there are several that tick all of the boxes, but they are too buggy to really be usable.

    In my search, I evaluated Chrome, and I allowed it to update automatically. One day, though, when I tried the new release, it had picked up a very bad habit of auto hiding the navigation bar when scrolling. I understand that some people like this, but I hate it... a navigation bar that is welded to the screen is one of my hard and fast requirements for a browser.

    Unfortunately, Google hath decided that since phones have small screens, a mobile browser needs to auto hide the navigation bar upon scrolling, and since one size fits all now, tablets must also behave the same way, regardless of what the user wants. So it is written, so shall it be done.

    As soon as I saw that there was no option to turn the autohide off, I uninstalled Chrome and have not looked back. There is little need for me to check back and see if Google has changed its mind on this because of customer feedback. I've seen how they deal with customer feedback regarding their decisions.

    I remember reading a nasty message from a Google employee who told Chrome users to stop asking for a master password, as it was never ever going to happen... this is not a democracy, he reasoned, and it does not matter what you want if we don't want to give it to you, and we don't. He concluded by telling the people who enthusiastically use the product in question that they can't always get what they want.

    Google has changed, or at least my perception of it has. It seems like they used to focus on what the customers want a lot more than they do now. Now they don't listen to what their users want... they tell their users what they should want, and force-feed it to them if they don't. There are worse examples of Google being Google, but they're not related to this topic... suffice it to say that Google is every bit the bad guy that Microsoft ever was, if not worse. I guess that is the problem with having a slogan as vague as "Don't be evil." The problem is that evil organizations never think they are evil.

    So it's no concern to me that Chrome won't support ICS, 'cause I don't support Chrome either. Don't tell me, though, Google, that it is time to move on and install a new version of Android that intentionally lacks the features that were part of the reason I bought the device in the first place. Make a version of Android better than what I have and I will upgrade... keep releasing ones that are worse and I won't. If you eventually make my tablet useless if I don't update, I'll have to switch platforms... which I could do now, except that I don't like Apple or Microsoft any more than Google. They both have that same kind of "we know what is best for you" arrogance that I can't tolerate in Google.

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