Not long after the modem drivers for the Verizon Galaxy Nexus were posted for developers last week with little fanfare, further evidence has surfaced that Verizon may be quietly providing selected Galaxy Nexus owners a test build of the latest available version of Android Jelly Bean in 4.2.2 in preparation for a full update within the next few weeks.
Should the latest reports pan out, this may be the first time that Verizon has purposefully skipped three major Android updates for its Nexus variant, following Verizon’s relative silence on why it has been holding back timely Android updates for the former flagship device.
Much of the speculation on why the device has so far been held back from updates, including our own has centered on Verizon’s refusal to continue to update the Galaxy Nexus as long as Google Wallet is present in each update, forcing Verizon to modify each build in order to disable Google Wallet under the argument that the current implementation of Wallet does not meet its standards for transaction and privacy controls.
This excuse flies in the face of how Google Wallet actually works, as its own NFC-based mobile payment initiative in ISIS uses the same underlying technology as Google Wallet, the only differences center on the way it handles transaction data. Verizon argues that its secure element as integrated into its LTE SIM for ISIS is more secure than Google’s cloud-based token method for Wallet.
However, as Verizon continued to hew closely to that rationale as the basis for blocking Wallet access and to a larger extent, Android updates for the Galaxy Nexus, recent activity suggested that Verizon was more than prepared to wash its hands of the onetime Google flagship once and for all, first by forcibly discontinuing the device and placing it on End of Life, thereby ending active support, then remaining quiet on much needed updates.
Today’s revelation that Verizon may indeed be testing Android 4.2.2 for a future release may actually give rise to a less vindictive theory for Verizon blocking the updates until now:
The previous updates as supplied from Google were filled with bugs and in need of further fixes which were addressed in previous point releases, including the latest available update. This is corroborated by the multitude of user complaints for initial versions of Jelly Bean 4.1 and 4.2 which featured bugs such as a missing month in the Calendar and issues with connectivity and overall stability, which were rare stumbling blocks for Google.
If Verizon instead decided to wait until the latest available update to test and develop for a future release, while it could be seen as wise to wait until Google ironed out all of the bugs present in earlier releases, it still does not explain or excuse Verizon’s silence on why it has decided to hold off on updating the Galaxy Nexus until now, after it has actively discontinued the device from sale.
While nothing has been officially confirmed yet, the fact that an official update is in the works is good news for current owners, though it remains to be seen whether Verizon will continue to support the device on an official level following its official discontinuation. While 4.2.2 will be a godsend for current owners waiting for an update, it may well be the last official update for the device and closes the book on one of the most contentious collaborations between Google and Verizon.