Android Ice Cream Sandwich: what's taking so long?

Android Ice Cream Sandwich: what's taking so long?Android's strengths obviously outweigh its weaknesses, or else it wouldn't be the market-leading mobile OS out there, but there's no denying that the drawn-out drama of waiting for updates is one of the platform's consistent weaknesses.

If anything, though, it's only getting worse, with new evidence suggesting Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich updates have been taking longer on average to appear than with any previous version of Google's OS.

For tech enthusiasts, looking ahead and getting excited about the 'next big thing' comes with the territory. In general, we know what we want today, but we're also planning what we're going to want tomorrow too, and eagerly counting down the days until we can have it.

For Android users, the wait for a newly announced version of Android to appear for your specific handset can seem like an eternity, but if you've been thinking it's been worse than usual with Android Ice Cream Sandwich, turns out you're right – it has been.

Android Police has put together an interesting graph charting the speed of update adoption for the last four versions of Android for smartphones, and from Eclair to Froyo to Gingerbread and now Ice Cream Sandwich, each new version of Android has taken longer to gain traction than the one before.

We're now five and a half months on from the ICS SDK being released, and yet Android 4.0 adoption is still sitting at below 5%. That compares to upwards of 50% for Android 2.1 Eclair after the same length of time, and around 40% for Froyo.

Part of that can be put down to the slowing rate of change that is inevitable as the OS has matured – back in Eclair's time, the number of existing Android handsets relative to new models going on sale was far lower than it is today, so new devices formed a larger part of the total Android user base than it does now.

But in truth, new handsets running Ice Cream Sandwich have been just as slow to appear as updates for existing Android phones. Looks like fragmentation is here to stay.

Read more about: Android

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10 comments

Pondlife  May. 1, 2012 at 11:40

It seems like it wasn't totally unexpected.

Jean-Baptiste Queru, Technical Lead of the Android Open-Source Project said last week as Sony Tablet ICS arrived.

It took Sony only about 5 months to ship this [Android 4.0 for the Sony Tablet S] after I released the code in the Android Open Source Project at the very end of last year. This is actually a very reasonable time, since under the hood Ice Cream Sandwich is quite different from Honeycomb (and upgrades from Gingerbread are likely to take longer as those differences are huge).

Since Sony has been contributing a lot to the Android Open Source Project, they have fewer changes that they need to maintain on their own: those changes of theirs are already there when the source code is first released. That's probably one of the reasons why they could get done faster: the work they did preparing those contributions gave them a head start. I don't think that any other manufacturer has been contributing nearly as much as Sony did, so everyone else is now going to have to play catch-up.


Comments following that in google+ also show another reason for some being slow is the heavy involvement of networks stateside

Pondlife  May. 1, 2012 at 11:45

JanSt / MOD  May. 1, 2012 at 15:45

Found this quite interesting too.
http://developer.sonymobile.com/wp/2011/12/07/ice-cream-sandwich-from-source-code-release-to-software-upgrade/



Bit better than the usual lipservice.
Now if they got the hardware right...

Pondlife  May. 1, 2012 at 18:51

Bit better than the usual lipservice.
Now if they got the hardware right...


Yeah if only they had. :(

Treab  May. 2, 2012 at 07:03

I am finally an ICE CREAM SANDWICH user... took t-mobile long enough to release it for the sgs2... (came out on the 22nd of april... ffs)

Pondlife  May. 2, 2012 at 11:35

So what do you think?

Treab  May. 2, 2012 at 22:42

So far... not sure... keep getting crashes on apps which i dont think are fully optimised yet...

Pondlife  May. 2, 2012 at 22:56

General apps or samsung ones? Would think ordinary ones would have had an update.

Treab  May. 2, 2012 at 22:58

Ordinary. I downloaded the t-mobile ics pack and the t-mobile app wouldn't work without an update oO i own monopoly from EA but has issues... its odd.

Pondlife  May. 2, 2012 at 23:25

Had trouble with gmail when I first upgraded, uninstalled it and reinstalled and it worked fine. Could try that or wiping cache. Both of which you've likely tried.
Drunken prozac had issues with ics update on htc and factory reset helped, sounds drastic though

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