Slowly but surely Ice Cream Sandwich will hit last year’s flagship Android phones. Motorola just updated its ICS schedule that details the expected timetable for each device. The biggest change is that ICS is now scheduled for non-U.S. RAZR models. But that’s seemingly the case for most Moto devices. For the most part ICS will hit Moto devices starting in the second quarter — but only for non-Verizon devices in the U.S. Here in the States the status of ICS for the majority of Motorola’s devices is still listed as “Evaluation & Planning” with “Further details to follow”.
The updated ICS rollout schedule lists 13 U.S. devices: three are WiFi-only tablets, two are AT&T-only, one is for Sprint, one is for U.S. Cellular and the rest are Verizon devices. Wanna guess which devices do not have an expected rollout date?
Take the U.S.-only XYBoard for example: ICS is scheduled to hit the WiFi-only model in the third quarter. The 3G/VZW model is in the Evaluation & Planning stage. The RAZR devices in Asia Pacific, Canada, China, EMEA, Japan, Korea & LATAM will get Ice Cream Sandwich in the second quarter. ICS isn’t scheduled for the US RAZR nor any of the Droid devices — all of which are exclusive to Verizon.
The oddball device here is the Motorola Electrify, which is basically a U.S. Cellular-badged version of Sprint’s Photon 4G without a WiMax radio. The Sprint version is set to get the update in Q3 2012 where the U.S. Cellular version is still listed as “Evaluation & Planning” with “Further details to follow”.
Several things could be going on here but it all likely loops back to the carrier. It’s possible that each carrier has their own set of stringent evaluation processes and requirements for major system updates, and Motorola of course has to play nice with their carrier partners. In Verizon’s case a number of things could be going on. Verizon might want to set the schedule itself. Or Verizon could just be playing it safe. The carrier’s early history with the Gingerbread update was buggy and left many owners (including me) with bricked devices.
But don’t fret, Verizon subs. Motorola reiterated previous statements saying, “DROID RAZR, DROID RAZR MAXX, DROID 4, DROID BIONIC, DROID XYBOARD 8.2 and 10.1, and MOTOROLA XOOM WiFI + 3G/4G will be upgraded to ICS.” It would just be nice if Moto could communicate the expected timetable with its loyal supporters.
Maintaining Android updates must be a huge task for Motorola and others. Google is holding to a yearly release schedule, but manufacturers are seemingly marching to a different beat. By the time the RAZR, XYBOARDs and Moto’s other flagship devices finally get Ice Cream Sandwich, Jelly Bean will be only several months away from launching. Once Google officially absorbs Motorola, the two will work to solve this strange delayed rollout scheme, but that will not help Samsung, LG and others. Speaking as a Droid X owner, the practice is frustrating and very anti-consumer. Google often talks down Android’s system fragmentation but the problem is only getting worse.
[image via flickr/Eric Hauser]