"Is Ice Cream Sandwich Out Yet?"

Vlad Savov for The Verge:

This is the vexing question that has been percolating inside my mind while reviewing the Sony Xperia S: is Google's Ice Cream Sandwich version of Android out yet? The instinctive answer would be quick and affirmative, what with the Galaxy Nexus having been on sale for months, but go to your local phone store and try to count the number of non-Nexus ICS handsets currently on sale. It won't take you long since the answer will almost invariably be zero.

I've been asking the same question for quite some time.

"Later this year"

In an update to the company's Facebook account this morning, HTC has detailed its forthcoming Ice Cream Sandwich updates to its line of Android devices. Having announced four devices that will be updated "by the end of March," the announcement goes onto state:

In addition, we can confirm Ice Cream Sandwich upgrades will be coming later this year to the HTC Rezound, HTC Vivid, HTC Amaze 4G, HTC EVO 3D, HTC EVO Design 4G, HTC Incredible S, HTC Desire S and HTC Desire HD.

For general perspective, the oldest device in the "later this year" list is the HTC Desire HD, which was released in September, 2010. Over half of the remainder of the "later this year" devices were released in the latter half of 2011.

I don't mean to point the finger at HTC, but this is simply dire.

HTC released 21 Android phones in 2011 and now, over three months since Ice Cream Sandwich's release, HTC is offering relatively vague promises for rolling out the update. Without control over the OS, HTC has been forced to wedge the latest version of the OS retroactively and differently into as many devices as possible, with many simply unable to make the cut.

Delayed rollout of Ice Cream Sandwich has dogged the otherwise promising OS's reception, with carriers and manufacturers alike pushing foreboding release schedules and vaguely negative timelines. Indeed, just over a week ago it was revealed that Ice Cream Sandwich has thus far reached only 1 percent of Android devices.

Given the apparent end-user benefits of the software update, it's awful to see the seemingly vast majority of users left out in the cold - their year old devices suddenly deprived of a software lifeline for the remainder of the consumer's two year contract. Arguments over the positives and negatives of Android aside, this is an unquestionably serious issue that Google, manufacturers, and carriers must collectively address.

The marketing of such devices while fully aware that they will be cast into obsolescence in a relatively short period of time is deplorable, and is worryingly endemic in the Android device marketplace today. Without resolution, alienation and stagnating adoption are surely on the horizon.

Three Months Since Release, Ice Cream Sandwich Reaches 1% Device Share

According to the official Android Developer site, Ice Cream Sandwich has just reached a 1 percent share of all Android devices. Given the disjointed distribution method of Google's latest iteration of the Android OS, it's fairly unsurprising - though somewhat validating - to see such a low number.

At the will of carriers and manufacturers, Android is increasingly being wedged into an uncomfortable corner. Without any stern exertion of control by Google, this low adoption rate is likely to characterize the future of the platform - particularly as third parties continue to fork the operating system for their own purposes.

Personally, while I have nothing against Android itself, I find this state of affairs to be absolutely horrendous. Ice Cream Sandwich is unquestionably the best version of Android yet and, if I were an Android device owner, I would want the latest and greatest on my phone. Unfortunately, for the average Android device owner, such a desire often goes months unfulfilled. For some, never. 

Talk of fragmentation and control aside, this is a truly serious issue that Google must at least attempt to take accountability for.

(Via Cult of Android via M.G. Siegler)

TouchWiz Skin Prevents ICS Update For Samsung's Galaxy S and Galaxy Tab

The Galaxy Tab's TouchWiz UI

Vlad Savov for The Verge:

Samsung has just distributed the worst news of this Ice Cream Sandwich upgrade cycle: the popular Galaxy S smartphone that sold 10 million units last year and the 7-inch Galaxy Tab tablet won't be upgraded to Android 4.0. The company's argument is that they lack sufficient RAM and ROM to run the new OS alongside TouchWiz and other "experience-enhancing" software. This will come as a massive blow to the great many users of the Galaxy S, who would have rightly expected the 1GHz Hummingbird processor and accompanying memory to be able to handle ICS — it's the same hardware as you'll find inside the Nexus S, and that phone is receiving Android 4.0 over the air right now.

This is precisely the kind of ridiculous customer treatment that I've been complaining about.