Sony Xperia Play(Photo: Sony)
Earlier this year, Sony announced that the Xperia lineup of android smartphones, released in 2011 and 2012, will get the latest taste of Ice Cream Sandwich. However, in a shocking announcement, Sony removed the PlayStation phone – Xperia Play – from Android 4.0 ICS update list.
In a blog post on Friday, Sony confirmed that the Android 4.0 ICS update for Xperia Play has been axed due to gaming stability issues. The manufacture said that Android 4.0 ICS is more powerful and resource intensive. As a result applications requires powerful CPU, more RAM and network bandwidth. Developers and testers faced a significant decline in performance when running graphic intensive games and so the ICS update for Xperia Play is not recommended.
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“In regards to Xperia PLAY, after extensive in-house testing with our developer teams and working with our partners, we have concluded that a consistent and stable experience, particularly with gaming, cannot be guaranteed for this smartphone on Ice Cream Sandwich – therefore, we will not make the Android 4.0 upgrade available for Xperia PLAY,” said Sony on its official Xperia product blog.
Sony cancelled the update after receiving negative feedback from testers and developers regarding the beta build of Android 4.0 ICS for unlocked Xperia Play, which was rolled out earlier as a test platform prior to official update release.
“This decision was also verified when we received similar feedback from the developer community; both experienced developers and advanced users, along with game content providers following our ICS beta ROM for unlocked Xperia PLAY smartphones,” said Sony, justifying the update cancellation for Xperia Play.
“Our priority has and always will be, to provide the best possible user experience on Xperia smartphones. In this instance the ICS upgrade would have compromised stability, where we look to ensure a quality gaming experience with games optimized and developed for Xperia PLAY.”
This is surely a bad news for Android gamers, especially for proud owners of the PlayStation smartphone. However, the company is not avoiding ICS update for other devices. Sony Xperia Ray, Xperia Arc S and Xperia Neo V just got ICS update last month.
On the other hand, ICS update for Xperia Arc, Xperia Neo, Xperia Mini, Xperia Mini Pro, Xperia Pro, Xperia Active and Sony Ericsson Live with Walkman will start rolling out next week. After it, the new NXT series smartphones – Xperia S, Xperia P and Xperia U – are next in the update list.
Mobile phone maker Motorola’s update of the Droid RAZR to the Android 4.0 operating system appears to be on the way.
New official videos posted on the company’s Japanese website show the OS running on the handset. Spotted by Droid Life, several videos — some in Japanese –show off new features in Motorola’s custom version of Ice Cream Sandwich.
For instance, shortcuts for text messaging and the phone dialer have been added to the lock screen, so instead of unlocking the phone and then looking around for one of those functions, they’re right there; on stock ICS only the camera and unlock are available in this way.
You’ll also appreciate the way ICS lets you access your music controls directly from the lock screen when music is playing.
And if you’ve ever wanted to capture what you’re looking at on your phone’s screen, ICS makes it simple. Taking a screen shot is only a matter of pressing the down volume and power buttons simultaneously for a few seconds. The phone shows you a quick version of the image it snapped, then saves it to your gallery where you can store it or share with others.
The video lineup also includes one that shows off how Webtop 3.0 works. It’s an application that allows you to hook the phone up to an HDTV or monitor with an HDMI cable. Once the phone detects it’s connected to an external display it launches the Webtop app which lets you see all your apps on the bigger screen and access a full version of the Firefox browser.
Webtop came onto the scene back at last year’s Consumer Electronics Show when Motorola announced the Atrix smartphone and the “Lapdock” that made it act like a laptop computer. This was huge news because Motorola had somehow beat Microsoft and Apple in creating a converged smartphone-PC device. As CNET’s Jason Hiner aptly points out, now that Google owns Motorola the two companies are in a great spot.
“The success of Android has established Google as a key player in mobile computing devices, and once consumers and business users start looking to consolidate their many devices, Webtop could make Google the company that’s best positioned to make that consolidation possible,” he writes.
For the record, Motorola has said it will roll out ICS to Droid RAZR users in the second quarter, so that means anytime now.
Although it’s in Japanese, if you can’t wait to see how Android 4.0 looks on your RAZR, here’s video that will give you a glimpse.
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We list five important reasons why you should want Android 4.0 (Ice Cream Sandwich) on your next phone or tablet. If your phone manufacturer is doing its job, you may not have to wait long, either.
It has been seven months since the release of the release of Android 4.0 (Ice Cream Sandwich), the operating system that is supposed to unify all devices running Android, whether they be phones or tablets. Android 4.0 is great — we love it — so why is it installed on only 4.9 percent of Android devices? We are finally starting to see non-Nexus devices being released with the frosty treat, and ever so slowly older handsets are getting updated. It is easy to say that there is a nearly endless list of great new features on ICS, but in reality, most of these new additions won’t be used by the majority of Android users. So if your phone or tablet is getting updated from Android 2.3 (Gingerbread) or Android 3.0 (Honeycomb) to Ice Cream Sandwich in the near future, we’ve rounded up five reasons why you should want Android 4.0.
One of the strong points of the Android operating system has always been its multitasking capabilities, but one of the real weaknesses of previous versions was that you couldn’t see which apps are running, nor could you easily close those apps without digging through the Settings menu. ICS has changed this; not only is it easy, it is also extremely satisfying. There are only three navigation buttons on Android 4.0 devices: Back, Home, and Applications. When you press the Applications button you will be presented with a visual list of all the apps currently running on your phone. With a simple swipe of your finger, you can close each app. There is a real sense of accomplishment when you whittle away running apps using your Fruit Ninja swiping skills. (Though sadly, there are no sound effects like in Fruit Ninja.) Besides being fun, the benefit of closing unused apps is that you can really save battery life, so it is always a good idea to check what you have running. If an app is acting up, closing it and restarting it through this method can also save you some grief.
It is unbelievable how much the camera app has changed from Android 2.3 to 4.0. Even with exactly the same hardware, it is as if you have a brand new camera. You can take pictures instantaneously, with absolutely no shutter lag no matter how slow your previous camera operated. No longer do you have to wait for the exact perfect moment to take your picture; you can just continuously press the shutter button until you get the shot you want. This is also a great way to impress friends who have iPhones, or have yet to upgrade to ICS.
Technically, the notification system on ICS hasn’t changed much from previous versions of Android. How you manage your notifications is where Android 4.0 really shines. Now you are able to view your list of notifications and simply swipe away any that you want to ignore, or are unimportant. Granted it wasn’t too difficult to press the little X on the right side of each notification in previous versions of Android, but there is just something visceral about swiping away notifications. If you have never tried it, find someone who has an ICS device and ask to try it, you will never want to go back to clicking away notifications. Swiping is better than tapping.
One of the big challenges Google is facing with making an interface is making sure that applications designed for phones can work properly on tablets while still looking good. There still aren’t many apps that are fully 4.0 compatible, but the few that are available look and feel great. Google is also taking a cue from Apple and has issued a style guide for ICS apps in hopes that future apps will share a similar look feel. As the library of ICS-specific apps increases, this feature will only become more and more beneficial.
Chrome Browser is an example of one of the unified applications we just talked about. Google’s Chrome browser is in beta and doesn’t come pre-installed on any device, but it can only be installed on devices with Android 4.0 — and only devices with 4.0. Personally, we haven’t really had any issues with default Android browser; it got the job done and didn’t get in the way. Chrome, on the other hand, is the best mobile browser we’ve used. Unlike the other mobile browsers we’ve used, it is able to handle multiple tabs flawlessly. You can view your open tabs visually like cover flow, and swipe to remove tabs that you no longer need. Chrome the first app you should download when you get ICS.
The actual list of improvements packaged inside of ICS is quite extensive, but most of the benefits will go unnoticed by the average consumer. Some highly anticipated features like Face Unlock and Android Beam have been big letdowns functionally, but are still neat gimmicks to show off to your friends. Hopefully your device is scheduled to be updated in the not so distant future so you can enjoy some of these features. If you are currently using Ice Cream Sandwich and your favorite feature was left off this list, let us know.
(Awesome header image via TechnoBuffalo)
This week the folks at Motorola are doing their best to let the world know that their Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich update schedule is based not on their inability to upgrade their devices, but on how willing they are to do so. In a bit of a sting to those who purchased Android devices with Motorola manufacturing over the past year or so, expecting the next Android system upgrade as they did so, the manufacturer has sent out a message to users that if ICS wouldn’t “improve” their devices, they would not be updated. Have a peek at the full list below. This update ushers in a near-final list of all the Android devices Motorola has on the market today. Included in the Android ICS upgrade list are all the devices you knew were going to upgrade in the first place – the DROID 4, DROID RAZR, and more, but what you might be surprised at are the list entries with DROID in the title that will be sticking with Gingerbread. Have a peek at everything between ICS and Gingerbread here: Of particular interest to DROID lovers will be the DROID 3, easily the highest powered device on the list that is not going to be upgraded. You’ll find that the Droid X2 as well as the Droid 2 are also on the list for Gingerbread only, while one phone sits in the “maybe yes, maybe no” category: the ELECTRIFY. Interestingly enough, the PHOTON 4G (essentially the same phone on a different carrier) is scheduled for ICS in the fourth quarter of this year – carrier clout, perhaps? “You’re not alone. Good thing we’ve got a page for that. You can get the latest software upgrade news on our refreshed page. You may be wondering why all devices aren’t being upgraded to Android 4.0 (Ice Cream Sandwich). Here’s the deal. We work very closely with Google and cell phone carriers for every software update. And, obviously we want the new release to improve our devices. If we determine that can’t be done—well then, we’re not able to upgrade that particular device. Happy upgrading!” – Motorola Stick with us as each of these devices get their next (and in some cases, their last) update ever in 2012. And check Motorola’s full list for all the updates in all the countries across the earth – including such gems as the MOTOGLAM and the QUENCH!
This week the folks at Motorola are doing their best to let the world know that their Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich update schedule is based not on their inability to upgrade their devices, but on how willing they are to do so. In a bit of a sting to those who purchased Android devices with Motorola manufacturing over the past year or so, expecting the next Android system upgrade as they did so, the manufacturer has sent out a message to users that if ICS wouldn’t “improve” their devices, they would not be updated. Have a peek at the full list below.
This update ushers in a near-final list of all the Android devices Motorola has on the market today. Included in the Android ICS upgrade list are all the devices you knew were going to upgrade in the first place – the DROID 4, DROID RAZR, and more, but what you might be surprised at are the list entries with DROID in the title that will be sticking with Gingerbread. Have a peek at everything between ICS and Gingerbread here:
Of particular interest to DROID lovers will be the DROID 3, easily the highest powered device on the list that is not going to be upgraded. You’ll find that the Droid X2 as well as the Droid 2 are also on the list for Gingerbread only, while one phone sits in the “maybe yes, maybe no” category: the ELECTRIFY. Interestingly enough, the PHOTON 4G (essentially the same phone on a different carrier) is scheduled for ICS in the fourth quarter of this year – carrier clout, perhaps?
“You’re not alone. Good thing we’ve got a page for that. You can get the latest software upgrade news on our refreshed page.
You may be wondering why all devices aren’t being upgraded to Android 4.0 (Ice Cream Sandwich). Here’s the deal. We work very closely with Google and cell phone carriers for every software update. And, obviously we want the new release to improve our devices. If we determine that can’t be done—well then, we’re not able to upgrade that particular device.
Happy upgrading!” – Motorola
Stick with us as each of these devices get their next (and in some cases, their last) update ever in 2012. And check Motorola’s full list for all the updates in all the countries across the earth – including such gems as the MOTOGLAM and the QUENCH!
Let’s say you want to buy a phone. And let’s say that, since Android 4.0 (Ice Cream Sandwich) has been “available” for six months now, you want to buy a phone that has it pre-loaded.
ICS generally feels faster and more responsive, it offers sync with desktop Google Chrome, it has better contact and data management, and it’s just more well-rounded and useful. It also ensures whatever apps you download will work as well as possible down the road, as developers patch their apps and target ICS for compatibility purposes.
So Ice Cream Sandwich is a fairly reasonable thing to want. And since it’s been out for six months, having it pre-loaded on your brand-new Android phone is a reasonable expectation.
With that, here is your list of possible phones.
Phones With ICS Now:
HTC One S (T-Mobile)
HTC One X (ATT)
HTC EVO 4G LTE (Sprint)
HTC Vivid (ATT)
HTC Amaze 4G (T-Mobile)
HTC Sensation 4G (T-Mobile)
Samsung Galaxy Nexus (Verizon, Sprint)
Samsung Nexus S 4G (ATT)
That’s it—eight. Of these phones, two of them—the HTC One X and the HTC EVO 4G LTE—are currently “contraband,” as veteran technology reporter Rob Pegoraro wonderfully put it, thanks to a ridiculous patent dispute between Apple and HTC involving U.S. Customs. Of the remaining six, a few of them (namely, the Vivid, the Sensation 4G, and the Amaze 4G) may or may not have it loaded in the box, although the OTA update should be ready to go when you first power up the phone. One of them, the Nexus S, is no longer available at retail.
So including the above qualifiers, and assuming HTC works out the patent situation, there are seven new phones you can buy with ICS. That’s terrible.
Over at Google’s developer.android.com site, the latest share numbers show ICS is running on just 4.9 percent of devices out there at the time of this writing. That even includes tablets, which I didn’t include here, mainly because tablets are usually Wi-Fi-only, and therefore something you can easily buy or sell without contract restrictions or massive cancellation fees.
But a lot more phones, including plenty of already existing models, will be getting Ice Cream Sandwich sometime soon! Or rather, at least we were told they are. Here’s that list as promised by U.S. wireless carriers, at least as best I could tell with a few hours of research this morning. Most still don’t have firm dates, although a few are rumored to be within the next few weeks. Feel free to add a phone in the comments if you see one I missed.
Phones Slated to Get ICS, Someday:
HTC Droid Incredible 2 (Verizon)
HTC EVO Design 4G (Sprint)
HTC EVO 3D (Sprint)
HTC Rezound (Verizon)
HTC Rhyme (Verizon)
HTC Sensation 4G (T-Mobile)
HTC Thunderbolt (Verizon)
LG Lucid (Verizon)
LG Spectrum (Verizon)
Motorola Droid Razr (Verizon)
Motorola Droid Razr Maxx (Verizon)
Motorola Droid 4 (Verizon)
Motorola Droid Bionic (Verizon)
Samsung Captivate Glide (ATT)
Samsung Galaxy Note (ATT)
Samsung Galaxy S II Skyrocket (ATT)
Samsung Galaxy S II (ATT, T-Mobile)
Samsung Galaxy S II Epic 4G Touch (Sprint)
Samsung Galaxy S Blaze 4G (T-Mobile)
Sony Xperia Play 4G (ATT, Verizon)
That’s a sizable “slated to get ICS” list, right? The thing about it is that, until each phone actually has ICS, it doesn’t have it. In other words, while some updates may roll in within the next few weeks or months, there’s nothing preventing these manufacturers from changing their mind and never releasing it entirely.
In a few cases, carriers have made explicit promises at the time of purchase. We’ve seen the stickers on the boxes. So those updates will largely have to go through, or else that carrier has broken an agreement with the customer.
But for the rest, despite them all going on stage last year to promise updates for the first 18 months of any Android phone as part of the then-new Google Android Update Alliance—owners of these phones are still left wondering.
What does this mean? It’s not that manufacturers are busy working on brand-new phones with ICS, because brand-new phones are hitting the market even now with Gingerbread. And it’s not that they’re busy working on upgrades for existing ICS phones, because we still don’t have those yet, either. What gives?
It’s Not Just About Having the Newest Version
One reasonable tack here is to decide that whatever phone you’re buying has to satisfy you now. In other words, and this has always been great advice with tech purchases, buy a phone that makes you happy today, and never buy one based on promised features that may or may not appear. But in a world of 4G LTE connected devices and hundreds of thousands of smartphone apps, that’s an annoying restriction, given that these phones are computers, and that their key task for many people is to run apps.
Developers are already focusing on ICS compatibility now. There’s going to be a point fairly soon in the future where apps won’t work correctly unless you’re running ICS, as per the stated minimum requirements. And as long as such fragmentation exists, it will be that much harder for developers to QA apps, widgets, and UI skins, and that much more likely you’ll run into bugs and other unexplained behaviors.
In the end, this isn’t about Android not being any good because of the lack of OS updates. It’s really more of a question of what’s important to you, and whether you think the manufacturer owes you updates, the way Apple provides automatically for all iPhones (hardware permitting—the earliest few are excluded from some features now).
We’re of the opinion that Android users deserve free OS updates, at least while the phone is reasonably current. And a stable, consistent version of the OS across as many phones possible—even despite hardware differences, the diversity of which being one of the things that make Android so great—would help consumers and developers alike. And that’s on top of all the new features ICS brings to the table. Google is also of this opinion, by the way, as it has demonstrated quite clearly. It’s a shame the wireless carriers and phone vendors aren’t being honest with us.
For more, see Hey Google: Here’s What Fragmentation Means.
Update: I added the Sensation 4G and pulled the Galaxy Note off of the current ICS list, since the latter seems to have begun rolling out overseas a few weeks ago, but isn’t here in the U.S. on ATT yet. I also added the Sony Xperia Play 4G to the “slated to get ICS” list.
For more from Jamie, follow him on Twitter @jlendino.
Article source: http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,2817,2404669,00.asp
When it comes to Android 4.0 upgrades, Motorola hasn’t exactly been leading the pack.
The manufacturer scored a big fat “D” in my Android 4.0 report card for the first quarter of 2012, and from the looks of it, its second-quarter score may not be a heck of a lot better.
After months of silence and inactivity, Motorola is finally speaking up about its Android 4.0 upgrade plan and what’s going on with its devices. Here’s what’s new from the company’s latest software update page refresh:
• Motorola’s Droid Razr is now scheduled to get Ice Cream Sandwich sometime in the second quarter. Previously, the phone had been down for an “early 2012″ upgrade — a time frame I think we can all agree has long since passed. The second-quarter upgrade schedule now applies for the international Motorola Razr model, too, as well as for the Droid Razr Maxx.
• The Motorola Xoom international Wi-Fi model and U.S. 4G model may actually get ICS one of these days; both tablets are now slated for second-quarter upgrades.
• The Motorola Droid Xyboard 8.2 and 10.1 models finally have ETAs for their Ice Cream Sandwich arrivals: Both Xyboard models are set to get ICS in the third quarter of the year. The same applies to the international Motorola Xyboard tablets.
• Owners of the once-heavily-hyped Motorola Droid Bionic can expect to get Ice Cream Sandwich “early” in the third quarter of 2012. Moto had stayed mum about the Bionic for months up till now: The company last talked about the Bionic in late 2011, when it promised to release more specific upgrade info once Google released the Android 4.0 software. Evidently, what it meant to say was “eight months after Google released the software.”
• Motorola’s Photon 4G had previously been promised a third-quarter ICS upgrade; the company has now quietly bumped it back to the fourth quarter instead.
• The Xoom Family Edition tablet was originally listed for a second-quarter Android 4.0 rollout; Moto has pushed it back to Q3.
• Motorola has stated that it has no plans to upgrade the Droid X2, which launched last May. The same applies to the international Milestone X2 model.
• Other phones now officially confirmed to remain on Android 2.3: the Motorola Admiral, Motorola Pro+, Motorola Defy Mini, Motorola Defy+ MB526, Motorola Fire, Motorola Fire XT, and Motorola Motoluxe.
All in all, Motorola is continuing to disappoint with its Android upgrade efficiency. A few phones finally have vague “second quarter” estimations, at least, but five months after ICS upgrades began, Moto has yet to launch a single rollout of its own or even provide so much as a definite date for any of its devices.* And now, it’s reneging on more promises, pushing back its plans for some high-profile products, and disappointing plenty of folks who bought big-name devices less than a year ago.
The notion of numerous Google-supported Nexuses has never sounded better.
*While some versions of the Motorola Xoom have received Ice Cream Sandwich, that tablet is a “Google experience” device and consequently has its software upgrades managed directly by Google — not Motorola.
Article copyright 2012 JR Raphael. All rights reserved.
HTC’s upgrade of the HTC Sensation on Wednesday to Android 4.0 will be bittersweet, as a T-Mobile representative said that the company will begin enforcing its $14.99 per month wireless hotspot plan.
That probably means that the carrier’s policy of letting some customers use the feature for free will end, making a Wi-Fi hotspot subscription mandatory for those who want the “Ice Cream Sandwich”/Android 4.0 upgrade, and wish to keep using the phone as a wireless hotspot.
T-Mobile’s support document on the HTC Sensation upgrade on Monday came with a caveat: “HTC Sensation 4G will be required to add Wi-Fi Mobile Hotspot feature in order to use the service after completing this update.”
T-Mobile also indicated that ICS would be coming to the HTC Amaze 4G “in the coming weeks”. However, that document lacks the Wi-Fi Mobile Hotspot caveat that T-Mobile included on the HTC Sensation page. On the other hand, users have reported that T-Mobile has also previously blocked the Wi-Fi tethering feature on the Amaze.
T-Mobile has always officially charged $14.95 per month for Wi-Fi hotspot access. However, some users were given a free pass, leading to confusion about whether T-Mobile actually charged for the feature. Users needed to buy the package, whether or not they used a USB cable to tether the phone to their computer, or a Wi-Fi connection.
“T-Mobile began offering a Smartphone Mobile Hotspot plan in November 2010. However, due to technical limitations with software, customers were not being charged for the feature on select T-Mobile products,” a T-Mobile representative said. “Customers who choose to upgrade their HTC Sensation 4G to the optional Android 4.0 (ICS) software update will be required to sign up for the $14.99 Smartphone Mobile Hotspot plan.”
Furthermore, some users were also given a grace period of sorts. “T-Mobile may not immediately block you from Wi-Fi sharing until it is verified that you are using your device as a modem…and at that time you may be blocked and then required to purchase a feature to continue using it,” a T-Mobile customer support representative wrote last year. “That said, there may be a period of time where you are able to tether without having the feature added on the account.”
Although a T-Mobile representative confirmed that HTC Sensation 4G customers who wish to continue using the hotspot feature would need to pay the extra fee, all HTC Sensation owners will be able to upgrade to Ice Cream Sandwich for free – it’s just the hotspot feature that will cost extra.
HTC has a total of 16 phones lined up to get ICS updates, as it said in March, including the Droid Incredible 2 by HTC, HTC Amaze 4G, HTC Desire S, HTC Desire HD, HTC EVO 3D, HTC EVO Design 4G, HTC Incredible S, HTC Sensation, HTC Sensation XL, HTC Sensation 4G, HTC Sensation XE, HTC Raider, HTC Rezound, HTC Rhyme, HTC Thunderbolt, and HTC Vivid.
For more from Mark, follow him on Twitter @MarkHachman.
For the top stories in tech, follow us on Twitter at @PCMag.
Article source: http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,2817,2404429,00.asp
Got an HTC EVO 3D or HTC EVO Design 4G phone on Sprint? Good news: You’ll be getting the Android 4.0 upgrade next month, according to the carrier.
During an interview at the CTIA mobile tech show in New Orleans this week, Sprint VP of Product David Owens casually mentioned the phones’ upgrade plans while discussing their newly launched counterparts on Boost Mobile and Virgin Mobile.
The prepaid versions of the EVO 3D and EVO Design 4G are launching with Ice Cream Sandwich, Owens explained, while the original Sprint versions of both phones will receive their ICS upgrades “in the June time frame.” The phones will have HTC’s Sense 3.6 interface, however, not the newer Sense 4.0 seen on the One X and One S devices.
(The EVO Design 4G discussion starts at about 6:25 into the video; the EVO 3D discussion starts at the 8:20 mark.)
For a closer look at some of the changes Android 4.0 will bring to your phone, click over to my Android Ice Cream Sandwich FAQ. And remember, you can find the latest upgrade status for any phone or tablet in my Android 4.0 upgrade list; it’s always kept up to the date with the most current info available for all devices.
Article copyright 2012 JR Raphael. All rights reserved.
Data published by comScore shows that Amazon’s Kindle Fire has emerged as the dominant Android-based tablet. At the end of February, the Kindle Fire accounted for 54 percent of all Android tablets. The next most popular Android tablet product line is Samsung’s Galaxy Tab family, which dropped from 23 percent of Android tablets in December to 15 percent in February.
The success of the Fire is no surprise to those paying attention to the tablet market—as we wrote last year, there is healthy demand for a low-cost iPad alternative. Amazon can afford to offer the hardware at a lower price than its rivals because it can make up the difference in content sales. The key factors driving sales of the Fire are likely its low price point, the strength of the Kindle brand, and the breadth of the Amazon content ecosystem.
The rising prominence of the Kindle Fire will have significant implications for the Android tablet market. Amazon is using its own application store and a fork of the Android operating system that is based on version 2.3. As Amazon continues to advance the software in its own direction, it could reduce Google’s control over the Android tablet software ecosystem.
Third-party application developers who are building software for Android tablets obviously have a big incentive to ensure that their applications are compatible with Amazon’s popular Kindle Fire. But in order to make an application compatible with the Kindle Fire, it can’t be developed using APIs that are exclusive to Ice Cream Sandwich (the latest version of Google’s operating system).
It’s not clear yet if Amazon intends to update its fork of the operating system to bring it into alignment with Android 4. Amazon’s changes to the operating system are said to be much deeper than the kind of cosmetic changes that handset manufacturers typically make to differentiate their products. As Amazon’s flavor of the platform continues to diverge, application developers will likely follow in order to reach the device’s audience.
If Google wants to keep its own variant of Android relevant on tablets, the search giant will need products that are capable of competing with the Kindle Fire. Google is reportedly planning to launch its own low-cost Nexus tablet, possibly this year. Such a device would be aimed squarely at competing with the Kindle Fire rather than more expensive devices. Google has recently been working to strengthen its own content ecosystem and streamline its various media stores. It’s an effort that could help it pursue the same model as Amazon, where content sales are used to subsidize the price of the hardware.
It’s worth noting that other major Android manufacturers are starting to enter the budget tablet market. Samsung recently launched the Galaxy Tab 2 7.0, a seven-inch tablet that retails for $250. The device, which comes with Ice Cream Sandwich and Google’s application store, compares favorably with the Kindle Fire. Although it’s not quite as cheap, it has slightly more RAM and some of the performance and technical advantages of ICS. Such products could help Google keep its own flavor of Android competitive on tablets.
Three Verizon 4G LTE phones are slated to eat Google’s Ice Cream Sandwich in May.
If you’re one of the many, many Verizon subscribers waiting on your upgrade to Google’s Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich, chances are you’ll be waiting for quite a while if you even get the upgrade at all.
Last we heard, Verizon was merely giving a short list of 4G LTE devices a frozen treat, consisting of 14 smartphones and tablets from HTC, Motorola, Samsung and LG. So far 3G smartphones aren’t even on the radar despite what manufacturers are reporting such as Sony which claims its 2011 Xperia smartpones will receive the ICS upgrade any day now. We’ll see if Verizon is that generous.
“It’s a frozen snack that many in the Android community have been eager to try since ICS launched in December 2011 on the Galaxy Nexus by Samsung,” Verizon teased back in March. “The redesigned user interface includes many cool enhancements, including upgraded multitasking capabilities, notifications and Web browsing.”
We now have a little more information about Verizon’s ICS rollout thanks to a leaked roadmap. According to the plan, the HTC Rezound will receive an over the air update on May 9th, with the Droid Razr and Droid Razr Maxx following on May 21st. Both the 3G and LTE versions of the original Xoom tablet are currently in testing with no delivery date set as of yet.
Unfortunately, that’s it. Nothing else is currently on Verizon’s immediate roadmap, meaning that development and testing probably hasn’t started on the company’s other devices in the lineup. As for other qualified devices not on Verizon’s Lucky 14 List, the Big Red said last month that it will continue to update the ICS upgrade lineup as additional details become available throughout the year.
Outside the ICS upgrades, Verizon’s roadmap for the week of April 24 shows that the LG Revolution, HTC Rhyme, LG Spectrum and Droid Bionic have updates in testing, or updates on hols and ready to be rolled out. These updates are expected to do nothing more than squash bugs rather than upgrade the entire OS.