Looks like today is a good day to be an ASUS Transformer Prime owner, as the company has not only confirmed that an update to Ice Cream Sandwich is coming soon, but that a tool to unlock the tablet's bootloader is also in the works. Starting with dessert, ASUS has announced on its official Facebook page that the Transformer Prime's update to Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich will start on January 12th. The upgrade is described as a "worldwide update" that'll be pushed over the air.
In a move that should make tinkerers extremely happy, ASUS also revealed that it's prepping a tool to unlock the bootloader on the Transformer Prime. ASUS explains that it decided to lock the Prime's bootloader in order to comply with the requests from content providers for a secure device. However, the company realizes that a lot of folks like to mod and hack their gadgets, so it will release an unlock tool in response to consumer demand. It's worth mentioning that unlocking the slate will void its warranty and will also remove Google video rental functionality. There was no mention of when the Transformer Prime's bootloader unlocking tool will be released.
Lastly, ASUS took a moment to acknowledge the GPS issues that Transformer Prime users have been experiencing. The company explained that the Prime's GPS functionality can be hindered by its metallic body as well as factors such as weather and buildings, adding that the tablet "is not a professional GPS device" and that the GPS capabilities won't be listed in the Prime's spec sheet and marketing going forward.
Overall it looks like ASUS gave us a bit of a good news-bad news sandwich today. One the one hand, it's great to learn that the Transformer Prime's update to Android 4.0 is close to rolling out, and it's awesome that ASUS is listening to customer feedback and working on a bootloader unlock tool. That said, even though I'm sure many folks are glad that ASUS has acknowledged that the Prime has some GPS problems, I'm guessing that the company's response isn't going to thrill owners of the tablet. Whether or not ASUS will try and tweak the device's GPS performance in future updates remains to be seen. At least Prime users have a tasty Ice Cream Sandwich coming later this month to serve as a distraction from the GPS issues for a bit, right?
Thank you very much for all of the support you have given to ASUS. Eee Pad Transformer Prime received excellent reviews and great demand when it launched in December 2011. Now, we are continuing to make the Transformer Prime available in the worldwide market, and doing our best to fulfill the incredible demand. ASUS strives to create the best products and provide the best service for our customers, and will be releasing an FOTA update for the Transformer Prime shortly. This update, version 126.96.36.199, will improve the focus of the camera, the fluidity of the touch experience, and the APK capabilities in Android Market.
ASUS has been working hard to make the highly anticipated Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich available on the Transformer Prime, and today, we have good news for you. Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich FOTA worldwide update for the Transformer Prime will start from Jan 12th, 2012. Thank you for your patience and support through this process.
In addition, we would like to address your concerns related to GPS and bootloader on the Transformer Prime.
The ASUS Transformer Prime is made from a metallic unibody design, so the material may affect the performance of the GPS when receiving signals from satellites. Please note that this product is not a professional GPS device, and signal performance can be easily influenced by factors including, but not limited to: weather, buildings, and surrounding environments. Please understand there are limitations when using the GPS function. To avoid inconveniencing users who demand a powerful GPS device, we made the decision to remove it from our specification sheet and marketing communications. We apologize for any inconvenience this has caused.
Regarding the bootloader, the reason we chose to lock it is due to content providers' requirement for DRM client devices to be as secure as possible. ASUS supports Google DRM in order to provide users with a high quality video rental experience. Also, based on our experience, users who choose to root their devices risk breaking the system completely. However, we know there is demand in the modding community to have an unlocked bootloader. Therefore, ASUS is developing an unlock tool for that community. Please do note that if you choose to unlock your device, the ASUS warranty will be void, and Google video rental will also be unavailable because the device will be no longer protected by security mechanism.
Thank you for all the understanding and support for the ASUS Transformer Prime. Happy New Year!
Via ASUS Facebook