Still Waiting for Android 4

Google released the software development kit for Android 4.0.1, also known as ‘Ice Cream Sandwich’ (ICS), on October 19, 2011—six months ago today. It is probably safe to assume that major Android device manufacturers had access to the code before then, and even if they didn’t the source was made publicly available less than a month later on November 14, 2011.

My Motorola Xoom FE (mz505), a mid-range tablet which Motorola has repeatedly promised would get the ICS update, is still running the badly outdated Android 3.1 . . . a version that isn’t even the newest release on the 3.x (‘Honeycomb’) series. The tablet is pretty basic and, like most Android tablets, runs a largely-unmodified version of the operating system. There is absolutely no reason that Motorola couldn’t roll out the update within 60 days of source code availability. The delay is inexcusable (and I have sent Motorola a strongly worded message to that effect).

Meanwhile, my Android phone—a Motorola Droid 2 Global—is similarly held-back by Motorola’s spectacularly poor post-sale OS updates. It is running the same Android 2.3.4 release that rolled out in March, more than ten months after that version was released by Google. Motorola has not committed to making Android 4 available for the Droid 2 Global, even though it was still being sold brand-new just one year ago, and seems unlikely to do so.

Motorola probably thinks that withholding OS updates will encourage people to upgrade. It might. But it won’t encourage me to upgrade to another Motorola device (especially since even the flagship Motorola RAZR isn’t running ICS yet either). No, this kind of lackluster support will just push me to competitors with more prompt upgrades—particularly the Nexus series of phones, and the rumored upcoming Google tablet.

Scott Bradford is a writer and technologist who has been putting his opinions online since 1995. He believes in three inviolable human rights: life, liberty, and property. He is a Catholic Christian who worships the trinitarian God described in the Nicene Creed. Scott is a husband, nerd, pet lover, and AMC/Jeep enthusiast with a B.S. degree in public administration from George Mason University.