HTC has posted an revised Android 4.0 update schedule, and the news is certainly not honorable for the struggling handset manufacturer. The phone manufacturer today announced it will not update any of its Android tablets, Flyer, EVO View 4G, or Jetstream to Android 4.0.
This is especially shameful, as representatives for HTC have gone on-record in the past as stating that the Jetstream, a $699 tablet… with contract… would be updated to Android 4.0. Flyer and EVO View 4G have been “under evaluation” for almost five months. Meanwhile, rivals such as Acer delivered ICS for its comparable tablets.
HTC did not even attempt to argue that limitations were the cause here, the cause is clear; low sales, and expensive resource-extraction to support tablets that for the most part wound up on second-hand retailers like eBay. The Flyer and EVO View 4G are more powerful, for example, than other devices that have, or have been promised to get, Android 4.0 upgrades.
The manufacturer also confirmed that, unlike devices that HTC ships with Android 4.0, the devices will not have the latest user interface augmentations. HTC will fall back to a customized Sense 3.6, rather than the Sense 4.0. Sense 3.6 appears to be based on the Sense generation that HTC authored for its Android 3.2, Honeycomb-based tablets.
However, HTC wasn’t alone in the shamefest. Sony, on the heels of its acqusition of joint-venture Sony Ericsson, also yanked commitments to deliver Android 4.0. The Xperia Play family was promised to get ICS, and now will not.
This is especially dishonorable for Sony, as the company continues to sell Xperia Play as a flagship device on both AT&T and Verizon Wireless, as well as in unlocked form. The AT&T version is an HSPA+ “4G” device, where as the Verizon version is a 3G, CDMA variant.
Neither company provided full rationals for their moves, or full technical explanations behind the limitations. Customers angered by the failures to deliver can sound off in our comments below… we’re pulling no punches on this one, both companies should honor commitments and upgrade, at the very least, Jetstream and Xperia Play, to Android 4.0.
Android generational upgrades continue to be a major problem for Google, and the greater Android community. Device manufacturers struggle to offer upgrades in a timely manner, as Google customizes the firmware with a single partner. Android 1.0 was developed with HTC, Android 2.0 and 3.0 with Motorola, and Android 4.0 with Samsung. Other device manufacturers often do not have access to the source code until the public release of source code, as top-choice partners are allowed to build and ship devices prior to source code releases.
Google, to its credit, has asked all partner handset manufacturers to commit to at least two years of firmware upgrades for all devices sold, whenever the devices are capable of being upgraded. Despite tons of lip service, not a single major manufacturer has made good on this commitment to the Android platform.