It’s the news Android fans have been waiting for for almost a month. HTC has finally shown its cards about which of its Google-backed blowers will be getting Ice Cream Sandwich and when. On the face of it, the news is pretty good. The HTC Sensation, Sensation XE, Sensation XL and Evo 3D are all being primed for an update some time in ‘early 2012’.

But look closer at HTC’s official statement and it’s hard not to be worried. There’s no word on when the Desire S, Desire and Wildfire S will be getting in on the action. Sure HTC might be ‘continuing to assess’ its products when it comes to Android Ice Cream Sandwich. But be under no illusions: this just proves that ICS will not solve Android’s fragmentation problems.

Back at Google I/O, The Big G said it was going to fight fragmentation with ICS, ensuring new phones would work with the latest upgrades for 18 months after their release. The merits of this were debated, with networks and manufacturers entering into this agreement voluntarily. But fast forward six months, and HTC’s announcement is indicative of the problem rearing its head once again.

If the latest HTC phones are only getting ICS in ‘early 2012’, then when exactly are older handsets going to get in on the act? Probably not until spring next year, by which point all the talk will be Android 5.0 and new devices. Punters who shelled out on phones that aren’t exactly creaking are going to be left waiting, just as they were with FroYo and Gingerbread before.

HTC is not alone in its sluggishness. The still top-end Samsung Galaxy S2 won’t see the update until Q2 of 2012, this despite Sammy making the first ICS phone, the Galaxy Nexus. HTC, though, is a very different position. Its vast portfolio of Android phones is coming back to haunt it, as it has to try and appease owners using a variety of different handsets. It’s becoming ever clearer that this means it can’t please everyone and that those who stumped up for phones only a few months ago, Desire S owners especially, are being left hanging. Entirely unfairly in my opinion.

It’s hard to find an argument against the idea that attracting new customers, and releasing phones with the latest version of the OS, is more of a priority than looking after legacy customers for HTC. This is madness, seeing as infuriating current owners only means they’ll look elsewhere, either at Nexus devices for faster Android updates or even Windows Phone or iOS handsets.

The problem of fragmentation is already starting to be felt before ICS’s release. It’s high time that Google tightened its ship, brought manufacturers to book and made sure users are treated with the respect they deserve. Android might be storming it now, but this sluggishness on HTC’s part means pressure and problems are building, with users doubtless voting with their feet in the months and years to come.

  • Anon.

    I thought it was pretty clear that ICS was only meant to fight fragmentation from release onwards. It’s impossible to get every device onto it. How come no mention of Google itself hanging the Nexus One out to dry?

    • http://twitter.com/casandrasdream casandrasdream

      wp7 is the most booring OS. With no apps and no games you cant compete

  • jaamgans

    And it will definitely fight it as it brings the tablets and phones into one fold. But until manufacturers are forced to treat their own launchers as add on’s over the top of android – like ADW etc, there will always be fragmentation due to the time it takes them to update their “skin”/launcher with the latest version of android. I lay this largely at the manufacturers feet but think Google could do better by insisting it doesn’t affect the base of android (but then of course we start messing with openess of Android). Just think HTC etc could sell their launcher to other phone users, or retain it for HTC only phones i.e. doesn’t make it available for download.

    Unfortunately the phone spec of the original nexus just aren’t good enough – same issue with G1/Dream etc – there just isn’t enough space on the internal memory to load ICS and still have space for apps – Cyanogen/XDA may be able to resolve this, like they did for loading gingerbread on desire.  Google really needs to lay down a minimum spec for what is required as internal memory – its now the first thing I look at when I buy a new android. You really should have 500MB min available to apps – then add on what the operating system requires and internal memory should really be 1GB min – and I really think 1.5GB is far more comfortable. I would love Android to come out and say it needs to be min of 4GB making phones more future proof. Would love to see all androids with 16GB memory and additional SD slot.

  • jaamgans

    And it will definitely fight it as it brings the tablets and phones into one fold. But until manufacturers are forced to treat their own launchers as add on’s over the top of android – like ADW etc, there will always be fragmentation due to the time it takes them to update their “skin”/launcher with the latest version of android. I lay this largely at the manufacturers feet but think Google could do better by insisting it doesn’t affect the base of android (but then of course we start messing with openess of Android). Just think HTC etc could sell their launcher to other phone users, or retain it for HTC only phones i.e. doesn’t make it available for download.

    Unfortunately the phone spec of the original nexus just aren’t good enough – same issue with G1/Dream etc – there just isn’t enough space on the internal memory to load ICS and still have space for apps – Cyanogen/XDA may be able to resolve this, like they did for loading gingerbread on desire.  Google really needs to lay down a minimum spec for what is required as internal memory – its now the first thing I look at when I buy a new android. You really should have 500MB min available to apps – then add on what the operating system requires and internal memory should really be 1GB min – and I really think 1.5GB is far more comfortable. I would love Android to come out and say it needs to be min of 4GB making phones more future proof. Would love to see all androids with 16GB memory and additional SD slot.

  • Anonymous

    What a load of tripe. Do you idiots even know what fragmentation is in this context?

    It’s all about the SDK version the applications are compiled with, that is the REALITY. if you compile with Android SDK API Level 7 (Android 2.1+), there is very little that’s missing compared to the newer API levels.

    Even easier, your application can target API level 13, and launch activity that detects if it’s a tablet or phone and launch the required layout fragment(s).

    There is very little fragmentation in Android. The only people saying otherwise are Microsoft (who have no mobile prescence whatsoever), and Apple, who have much bigger iOS fragmentation problems.

    All basic apps can target API level 4 and work on anything, phones or tablets. For something that has integrated maps and some of the more advanced API’s, API 7 is recommended (Android 2.1), but this covers almost all Android products on the market.

    http://developer.android.com/resources/dashboard/platform-versions.html

    In addition, the Android SDK comes with a compatability layer, in which you can add code to add new functionality into old applications.

    http://developer.android.com/sdk/compatibility-library.html

  • Anonymous

    Ok a story about Android surely Mr Jelly will be on the ball here…….

    wow i am amazed, Mr Jelly late in at number 3, your standards are slipping Mr Jelly.

  • Loserakira

    Will they have ICS on thunderbolt!

Hot chat, right here!


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