Android 4.1 "Jelly Bean": Another update most will never see

Android 4.1 "Jelly Bean": Another update most will never see

Summary: "Jelly Bean" is yet another update that you're unlikely to see delivered to your Android handset, because the major players don't have any interest in delivering it, and carriers don't give a jot either.


Mounting evidence suggests Google is gearing up to show off the next version of the Android operating system -- perhaps as early as this week.

Not much is known about Android 4.1 "Jelly Bean" beyond rumor and speculation. There have been suggestions that it will be released sometime during the second-quarter of the year, and there is speculation that Google's Chrome browser will become the default way to browse the web.

A listing that appeared briefly on Google Play for the Google Nexus smartphone suggests that Google's flagship Android smartphone will be the first handset to ship with "Jelly Bean".

The problem with Android updates is that it's hard to get excited about them.

History shows that Android updates are slow to make their mark on the ecosystem. Data collected by Google based on devices that have accessed Google Play shows that only 7.1 percent on devices are running the latest Android 4.0 "Ice Cream Sandwich" update, despite the update appearing more than eight months ago.

The most popular version of Android continues to be Android 2.3 "Gingerbread", first released December 2010 and last updated September 2011.

If you currently own an Android smartphone, this is yet another update that you're unlikely to see delivered to your handset. None of the major players have an interest in delivering the update to you.

Google is primarily interested in new handset activation and increased market share above all else, not in creating a unified ecosystem. The handset makers have sold you a phone and hope to never hear from you again until it's time to buy again. And finally, the carriers already have you hooked up to a multi-year contract and don't care a jot about what operating system your smartphone is running.

If Google really cared about you getting your hands on updates to Android it would do what Apple -- or to a lesser extent, Microsoft -- has done and take much tighter control over the process. It's tougher when you have multiple handset makers but it shouldn't be impossible to rein them in, especially for a company with the resources that Google has at its disposal.

However, it does take effort and determination, something that seems to be lacking over at Google HQ.

If you're hoping to see "Jelly Bean" delivered to your smartphone, you shouldn't hold your breath.

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Topics: Android, Google, Hardware, Mobile OS, Mobility, Security, Smartphones

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  • Glad I bought a Galaxy Nexus..

    ... so I'll be able to get the update quickly (by unofficial means if required in case it gets delayed like the Nexus S ICS update). While I love Android, I do hate the fact that Google isn't doing much to improve the updates situation. Sony is one company that's doing well right now, with 12 devices (11 of them phones/tablets from 2011) updated to ICS and more to get updated soon, but other companies don't seem to give a damn, taking their sweet time to update or not updating them at all. And those carriers in the US? Hah, those are the worst.
    Oh, and dear old Samsung, intent on pushing out great hardware (and successors of older devices with new Android versions as default instead of updating the predecessor, like the Galaxy Tab 10.1) but not at all concerned about supporting devices with updates. Wish that stupid company would just go bankrupt already or learn that people want updates as well, along with LG.

    EDIT: I agree with others here though. Android is good enough at 2.3, and it is the apps that matter, and in that regard Android is doing well.
    • Samsung

      Ironic that you're glad you bought a Galaxy Nexus but want Samsung to go bust. You do realise who makes the Galaxy Nexus?
      As for updates, I would say nobody churns out Android updates as often as Samsung. They are constantly working with the development community to patch and upgrade ICS. Problems get reported and samsung work on it. The fixes don't happen overnight but they are happening. They release incremental changes, they don't hold back. There has been more than a dozen updates to ICS for the Galaxy S2 and almost as much for the Galaxy Note. The whole library of firmware for ALL Samsung devices is available for anyone to access. I don't see any other vendor being as open as Samsung with software.
      If this is not good enough then you find me a better vendor!
      • just dont see it

        My galaxy s was the last phone in its class to get any updates and if you look at their forums they are filled with hate from people that buy their unsupported products. I switched to HTC for a phone and asus tf300 for a tablet , could not be happier with the service from both - Samsung mobile sux , period.the nexus is only good because Google took full control of updates.
    • Custom ROMs?

      Samsung's devices are some of the most widely supported, both by Samsung as well as by third party devs like CyanogenMod. For example, Jelly Bean is already out even for 2+ year old devices like the Galaxy S -

      And no, Android is not good enough at 2.3, atleast not if it aims to compete with iOS and that upstart called Windows Phone.
    • Samsung and Sony don't hold a CANDLE to ASUS

      I know this is an old article, but I just wanted to bring out to anyone that reads this that ASUS is by far the fastest company for Android OS updates. The TF300 got Jelly Bean within a 1.5 months of the release, and so did the Transformer Infinity. The Prime and TF101 are confirmed to get the release. For more info, check my thread listing all confirmed JB devices here:
  • Right.

    So tell me how Android is so much better at getting updates than that Nokia Lumia 900....
    • It's Adrian.

      He doesn't look at trivial things like living in a glass house himself whilst hurling stones.
    • .....

      Nobody has a Lumia 900 or windows phone so there is no complaining about updates. Sales show what they sold lie 500 window phones lol
  • It doesn't matter

    .... it's the apps that count. Not the OS version. As long as the OS isn't blatantly insecure, that is...
  • Okay, at least be honest with your articles...

    First, Anyphone running 2.2 or older is outside of the promised 18 Month Window...

    Second, knock 3.x off of that list as it was Tablet Only...

    That takes away 28% of the group that aren't eligible for upgrading...

    So, using those numbers the ICS is actually on 11% of eligible devices with more coming every day.

    Another note, your numbers are bad as well...

    You see, since that data came out, Verizon's best selling Android handset (The Razr Maxx) and its little brother both have gotten ICS. The Rezound will have it shortly and the Note as well.
    • Sad state of affairs

      It's sad that Google has set the bar so low (and I blame Google 100% for this), that 7 months after the OS is delivered, 11% is considered acceptable. The only acceptable solution is that every phone 2 years or less (provided the hardware can handle it) should be updateable to the next version *on the day* that the new version is announced. Simple as that. And it's really not that difficult either. Google has to create a hardware abstraction layer and manufacturers have to provide the drivers for their phones. And if it delays the version by a month, that's an acceptable delay for us consumers. And it shouldn't take more than a month to essentially just test the new version for existing hardware. Obviously new features that require new hardware won't work - but that's exactly what happens now when you get an OS update months and months later.
      • And this is a problem why?

        Samsung sells more phones than anyone and they are the worst at updating their phones and yet, people keep buying them... So, why is it that you think this even matters?

        Face it, Those that it really means something to, buy the Galaxy Nexus and those that it does not, buy other phones...

        Either way, it really doesn't matter because there are still 900k Android devices being activated daily. Those devices are largely phones that are as expensive or more expensive than the iPhone 4s.
      • It's a Double Edged Sword...

        In large part one of the most influential reasons why Android has become so popular and is being put on so many new devices is because of the openness of the platform and the ability to create a custom operating system for your device. As well as the lesser restrictions, hoops, etc.. that a manufacturer/developer has to go through to release a device with Android.

        It is because of that fact that there are so many devices out there on different versions of Android. And add to the mix that the customization is often a collaboration between the manufacturer and the telecom provider with mixed developer groups. When a new OS it can potentially require just as much work (software wise) as an entirely new device. Where would you spend your money?! If you could buy a new car for only slightly less than fixing your broken down car, what would you do? The manufacturer is really the one holding the cards to benefit, but because of the collaboration it amplifies the issue.

        And what are any of you even talking about updates and demanding how it should be handled?!?! Prior to the smart phone world updates on phones pretty much did not exist. You bought a phone for what it was and currently did and that was that. Now phone are just micro computers and albeit can be updated and recycled to a new form what place to you have demanding that the device *must* receive the updates?!?! Yeah you could say that Apple is doing a great job updating their OS, but think about what your comparing... Apple is all about control, they own it from start to finish and limit the creativity.. irony.. Windows phones.. Well I personally feel they are in between and there is really not enough data to say either way. Not to mention the difference between minor releases and major releases. The fact that 4.0+ is being put on any existing device at all actually speaks very positively on this topic. How many people would have installed Windows Vista or 7 on a dated machine that had XP? or putting OSX Leopard on a Jaguar machine? It truly is a double edged sword. If you wanted to be locked in and less creative with more stability on your platform then get an Apple... If you're will to work around potential bugs and issues for the sheer wow factor and limitless possibilities then Android is the way to go.

        The only really sad part is that the average consumer is very uninformed and also not very savvy (ignorant). And because of this many people buy into a device what it *really* is.. and with android devices most don't realize the "Android" they know isn't really "Android", but rather the manufacturer's and provider's presentation of what they *think* Android should be. The only true to heart Android phones have been the one's released and maintained in majority by Google themselves. G1, Nexus (N1), & Galaxy Nexus.. Too many have distorted experiences with Android because of it's power and abuse of said power.

        Sorry for the long rant...
      • @Peter Perry - Please prove stats

        Either way, it really doesn't matter because there are still 900k Android devices being activated daily. Those devices are largely phones that are as expensive or more expensive than the iPhone 4s.

        It looks more like Android phones in the $200 price range and upwards till $400. Nowhere can I see phones except Samsung that will cost more than $499 or $599 like iPhones do. The nearest competitor is Lumia and they are costly too but are heavily subsidized by Nokia.
      • It's the expectations game.

        None of this would matter if upgrades weren't advertised. If carriers don't see a benefit from their side, they're not going to push upgrades. Users should be more concerned about the support model of carriers than upgrades, but upgrades are sexy in the market and support isn't.
        Lester Young
      • never happen

        Way too many devices ,Google provides the code to the own and it is up to them to make it work on theory device. Other wise how do you provide drivers for a OS you know nothing about??? The take into account all the bloatware , I mean carrier features and you are asking way too much of Google. They provide the OS , it is up to the oem or carrier to provide the update to the consumer- how is it googles fault when a crappy oem like Samsung take forever or not at all?
        • btw

          All the spelling errors are because of this outdated OS on this phone ;)
    • Initially Android OS 3x

      Was not intended to be a "tablet only" OS... that came after the uproar from the Android customers wanting to know why their device was not being updated to 3x so stop apologizing. And 3x CAN be run on smartphones - I did it with my Samsung Galaxy... the whole "it's a tablet OS" excuse is simply that - an excuse.

      VZW also said my HTC Thunderbolt will be getting ICS via an update but I'm not holding my breath on that one.
      • wrong

        Honeycomb was always meant to be a tablet OS and would have to be ported to a was designed to make use of the larger got most of the other features in froyo so it would have been counter productive to port it for a phone. Ics was the OS that united the 2 devices.
    • ICE is not yet available for Razr

      As of this morning Motorola still is saying on their web site that ICE is "coming soon" to Razr & Razr Maxx. When I called Verizon they told me that it is not yet available and will not give me a date. Remember that when Razr Maxx first shipped, Motorola was saying ICE would be available by end of Q1 in 2012. In April the promise was changed to end of Q2. Now, when you call Motorola, all they will say is "soon." Verizon refuses to comment.

      In short, Android 2.3.5 remains the ONLY OS available on the Razr, and given their broken promises, who knows when ICE will be available, if at all. Really strange, since Motorola is now owned by Google. You would think that they would want their best OS on their flagship phone. Since Razr is already about 8 months old, maybe they are just going to replace the current Razr with a new version in the new future and that new version will run ICE.