The Latest Updates AND Ease of Use? or Android Isn't Made for You.
I enjoy Ice Cream Sandwich on my Droid X, and I can see that Google is finally understanding how to tidy up some of the lagginess and general responsiveness issues that have set it behind Windows Phone and iOS in pure user experience (hence their Butter or Worse stuff), but there's one issue with Android that likely will never be addressed because of what I've learned from the our community: the lack of choice in supported devices.
I saw this statement from one commenter, Freyberry, that really sailed home for me a sort of significance about why this issue isn't hitting home with Google and acted as a rebuke that should make most who support Android as a purely consumer OS nauseous to see.
"If you want Google’s software, buy one of Google’s phones, or don’t complain."
That’s not against you, I just hate that people twist the existence of more than one Android phone (as opposed to only one Apple phone) into a negative, when it really means more choice for those who don’t care about updates (those who do have one choice, just like Apple customers – so no disadvantage there).
My first instinct was this: Whoa there, Freyberry, what?!?!?
I have always seen the key advantage of Android as being the operating system that allows users a greater amount of choice for their devices, so here I find it grating and altogether disappointing to hear that Android doesn't allow for people that want to choose from a wealth of devices and be supported. It's solely one or the other, and more so than that, it must be this way, as there is apparently no other way to push updates responsibly as you can read later.
"...have one choice, just like Apple customers"
Android loses its significance here for people that want updates AND choice. It's unfortunate that Android is not seen as an operating system that should be capable of being prominently updated as a platform because of how businesses use Android; A fact Google can or will do nothing about because this quality is in the software's nature.
In later comments, Feyberry never denies something that seems so prudent to question here: will Android devices will always have this noticeable update fragmentation in non Android devices. The answer seems to be, "likely" if there's no complaints otherwise.
The consensus on this idea again, what Google is doing is par for the course, so you're not allowed to complain. Complaints were wrong here, Feyberry's reasoning, again:
This is because ‘forcing’ OEMs to update their phones or remove skins is not what Android is about – in fact, it’s exactly the opposite of what Android is about. Android was designed as a ‘tool’ to prevent monopolies (like iOS) that stifle innovation and as such, it must not be controlled, censored or whatever.
It's easy to jump to conclusions about what Feyberry is stating here, like... If you're looking for both choice and the newest software, Android isn't for you. The sad thing is, this is true to an extent. what Feyberry admits here in a backwards way has been a golden rule about Android since its inception and Google has made little effort to alter Android into a more widely update-able system: It's not easy/possible to do so and maintain Android as open-source, because that move violates the ideas of open sourcing it.
There was a disheartening part to Feyberry's post, though, his lack of tact in telling a consumer that if they buy a non-Nexus device, they should not only expect this kind of treatment, but shy away from complaining about it.
What Feyberry doesn't seem to understand, is that, despite being open-source, there is still someone with control over the software on your device other than you: The manufacturer or provider who is capable of releasing updates. Many of you may remember issues with updates to the Galaxy S line, and a huge amount of response to those updates came from vocal out-cry, not sitting down and shutting up. Users like Freyberry, who see this quality of Android but deny it is a responsibility to complain about, deny the greatest things a user should have in their phone: the same choice he spoke fondly about. Without complaint, the ecosystem will see the same separation it has today, without the controllers making tides to users that care about choice and updates, there will always be a problem for those people with Android. It is a problem with Android, it is, and we need to bitch about it, both to Google and providers.
It is a problem with Android, it is, and we need to bitch about it.
Certainly being open-source is a great quality about Android, if not its defining feature, but Android doing so leads to what you see now: mixed updating and fractured ecosystems. If you were to really balance the qualities of this decision it provides both positive and negative effects (Sorry Feyberry, there are negative things, relatively, about how Android is structured). The negative effects and positive effects seem to draw a line between basic consumers and advanced ones, but make no concessions for those in the middle. A person with basic knowlege sees the worst, but doesn't realize it. A person with advanced knowlege can get the best at the risk of losing ease of use, a quality few advanced users seem to realize as well, and the central user that wants the latest updates, ease of use, and choice see the axe. Android isn't made for them, android
And should customers be okay with this? This one is easy:
No, you shouldn't be okay with this if you don't like it; however, the fault might not entirely be Google's but the OEMS, so perhaps some of your anger is misplaced. The truth, though, is that Android's inherent design means that your experience of not being updated, while seemingly inherently negative, is the process of Android's nature and if you want consistent updates and experience among a greater number of phones, you might actually be looking towards Windows Phone (even in spite of the latest update controversy). That said, you can be mad at Google, but realize why: the ecosystem the created and the way they licensed software means this sort of thing is not only possible, but probably. Have a problem with the lack of control Google is enforcing, it's not an incorrect viewpoint to have, but it's a problem that is a lot harder to fix.