Since Google announced the Ice Cream Sandwich update in October (as if we didn't know it was coming beforehand), Android users with older devices have been wondering if and when their phones would see the feature-packed 4.0 update. We assumed that the Android Update Alliance (AUA) – which was formed by Google and several partner manufacturers last year in hopes of assured and more rapid updates for devices within 18 months of their release – would answer the vast majority of the outstanding problems with updates. That said, we're finally seeing how little the alliance has helped.
In the AUA's defense, this is the first Android update that we've ever heard all major Android manufacturers speak up and make their update plans transparent. The problem, however, is that those plans aren't exactly what we were expecting ... or hoping for.
For example, Samsung initially came forth and announced that neither the Galaxy S (implying all variants) or the original Galaxy Tab would be receiving Android 4.0. Since Samsung deemed the Galaxy S incapable of handling the 4.0 update due to hardware requirements (read: not enough RAM, ROM, etc.) and received a bit of backlash, word spread that users might be blessed with a "Value Pack" instead, which would bring several features of Android 4.0 in a non-ICS update.
Unfortunately for you wanting Galaxy S owners out there, Samsung spoke up once again yesterday, noting that the Galaxy S will not be receiving the "Value Pack" either, but that it is "limited to and fully optimised for the Gingerbread experience."
First off, I would like to say that this is malarkey. The Galaxy S and all of its respective variants (and the original Galaxy Tab, for that matter) are perfectly capable of running Ice Cream Sandwich. We know this because the Galaxy S and Nexus S share almost identical specifications, and the Nexus S has few problems handling the greatness of Android 4.0. However, the ability to run Samsung's custom interface, TouchWiz, is more important than being able to run newer, improved, better performing software. And, apparently, the Galaxy S can't handle both.
If nothing else, though, Samsung should at least offer some sort of optional upgrade to completely stock Android 4.0, just for those who want it. But it's not like anything like that would ever actually happen; it would keep current customers on older devices longer, and they don't make money off of old, stagnant customers. They want repeat customers – buyers who purchase new devices because their old one was never updated.
... I digress.
My concern is what this means for you Galaxy S users out there. Sure, there are a lot of people out there with 2010 devices that will never officially see ICS either. But if you think about it, Galaxy S owners have been put through more updating turmoil than any other users out there. Is this the last straw for some of you? Has Samsung ruined their chances of you buying another device of theirs for fear of software update issues? Or will you just unofficially load Ice Cream Sandwich on to your Galaxy S? Have you already upgraded to another device?
I feel bad for you all. To be perfectly honest, I kind of feel like Samsung owes Ice Cream Sandwich to you guys (sans TouchWiz) after all of the Froyo and Gingerbread trouble. All Galaxy S models are either past or quickly approaching that tricky 18 month mark, but I still think ICS updates for the Galaxy S – some 20 million customers worldwide, mind you – is the least Samsung could do at this point. If for nothing else, it would at least help restore some faith in their software updates.
This is a perfect example of why I vowed to stick to the current year's Nexus from now on. I'm not guaranteed updates for the remainder of the time that I own the device, but I will always have the latest updates for at least two years. And there's never any question about how much third-party development support there will be for a Nexus. So if an update is released and Google doesn't see my current device fit to run their latest software, for whatever reason, I can always find a third-party ROM built off of that source code. Peace of mind, folks.
Enough about me. What are you guys and gals going to do now that you know (and I emphasize that because Samsung is so wishy-washy on this) your phone will never officially see ICS? Is it custom ROMs for you? Or have you had enough of the Galaxy S? Enough of Samsung even?
Image via The Verge