ASUS was quite clear from day one that the Nexus 7 would receive Android 4.2 (also Jelly Bean). But, that was a non-news bulletin plastered across the web… Google controls what firmware Nexus devices receive, and has promised to offer generational updates for at least the last two Nexus devices. Since Nexus 10 launched with Android 4.2, it was guaranteed that Nexus 7 would get it.
Google, on the other hand, has been opaque as to if their first AOSP (Android Open Source Project) targeted tablet, the Motorola XOOM, would receive Android 4.2. Most XOOM variants still haven’t been updated to Android 4.1.
NVIDIA’s ubiquitous Tegra 2 processor has been a bit of a quagmire for Google. While it allowed for an onslaught of powerful, affordable Android devices, those devices have struggled to gain marketshare. Most of them have wound up on daily deal sites, as “refurbished” (e.g. we-couldn’t-sell-them-as-new-so-we’re-slapping-a-refurb-sticker-on-them) units. iPad continued to dominate the marketplace, while Amazon.com used TI OMAP processors to eat up the budget segment.
Worse, manufacturers have refused to update most Tegra 2 tablets to Android 4.1… despite being forced to admit that they are perfectly capable of running the upgrade. As we’ve previously reported, Acer, Motorola, Toshiba, and others have tacitly admitted that they won’t upgrade capable devices.
For ASUS, the fact that Android 4.2 doesn’t change system requirements adds to the upgrade stack. Devices such as the Eee Pad Transformer and Eee Pad Slider are old, not being sold, and daily deal constants. But, ASUS also has stayed true to updating all of them to Android 4.1.
With ASUS clearly saying that they will upgrade Nexus 7, it indicates that their patience with updating their entire fleet may be running out. As such, we’re recommending at PhoneNews.com that you hold off on purchasing that $200 Eee Transformer or Slider, at least until ASUS makes it clear if it will be getting Android 4.2.
With Android 4.2 clearly trying to keep the goalpost from being pushed out further, Google may be intentionally trying to slow down the pace of Android upgrades. With only twenty-five percent of Android devices running Android 4.0, Ice Cream Sandwich, Google continues to struggle with fragmentation. New devices with Android 2.3, Gingerbread, are still being launched each month. This is due to Android 4.0’s significantly higher system requirements, that leaves Android 2.3 a popular budget phone offering.
If Google is trying to slow the pace of Android system updates, and focus more on app features that target Android 4.0 through 4.2, it may be a wise choice to pick a device with Android 4.2. That has higher odds of lasting far longer as the latest and greatest.