Say what you will about Android’s tremendous growth, but the fact remains that an optimal Android user experience is still not a luxury enjoyed by the majority of Android handset owners.
There’s no denying that Apple places a priority on consistency across its product line, especially when it comes to software UI and system features. To wit, it wasn’t that long ago that Apple booted an iPhone camera app after it came to light that the app enabled users, against Apple’s wishes, to take photos using the volume keys. Apple’s reasoning was that such a feature would inevitably confuse users. In short, Apple wants its volume keys used solely for volume control, and anything that messes with that setup has got to go. While that may frustrate folks who like to tinker and use their devices in all sorts of interesting and quirky ways, Apple is more concerned with pleasing the masses than it is with appeasing enterprising tech geeks.
Moreover, Apple has done a great job with its iOS releases in ensuring that they run seamlessly across the vast majority of previously released iOS devices. It’s only recently that certain updates have left devices like the original iPhone out in the cold. But to be fair, the original iPhone is already 3 years old, so you have to expect Apple to eventually make software choices that effectively phase out older hardware.
Users of Android devices, however, aren’t so lucky. Even devices purchased relatively recently are stuck running old Android software, with some not scheduled to see an upgrade to Android 2.2 for a few good months.
Writing for PC World, Jared Newman lays out all of the quirky upgrade scheduling as applied to a variety of Android devices.
For starters, Newman writes that the Droid’s upgrade to Android 2.2 was relatively incomplete as it didn’t include the ability to tether, become a mobile hotspot, and also didn’t come with Adobe Flash 10.1 When can Droid users expect Flash 10.1? In the next few weeks.
The news is worse for owners of the Motorola Milestone, the Droid’s overseas twin. According to Motorola’s official upgrade timeline, the Milestone will get Froyo in late Q4, but only for Europe and Korea. The Android 2.2 upgrade for Milestone is “under evaluation” for Canada, Latin America, and Mexico.
Another wrinkle is that Android phones that predate the 2.1 version of the software won’t be able to upgrade to Froyo at all. Meanwhile, even phones that are Froyo worthy will have to wait to upgrade.
Owners of HTC’sDroid Incredible are still waiting for their update — rumors of August 18 didn’t pan out — and the brand new Dell Streak tablet is stuck on Android 1.6 until the end of the year. Samsung’s Galaxy phones are all expected to get Froyo, but with no date announced for U.S. wireless carriers.
Yikes, that’s a lot to take in. And while this certainly isn’t the end of the world, there’s a certain level of chaos and confusion here that Apple would never go for.