The big buzz in the world of Android is still undoubtedly Android 4.0, better known by the codename Ice Cream Sandwich . The first Ice Cream Sandwich-based devices have already started making their way into consumers’ hands thanks to Samsung’s Galaxy Nexus.
But for a lot of other users, Ice Cream Sandwich is still a treat lurking just out of reach. And the reason for this has almost everything to do with something that gives the world of Android its very biggest strength.
To say that the Android universe is diverse would be a massive understatement. Unlike the Apple iOS universe, where all hardware and firmware is controlled from a single point, Android is far more open as a platform.
Manufacturers can mix and match hardware components to meet certain feature sets or price points; that way there can be a phone for every user’s needs. Companies can also customize (or skin) the operating system itself for branding reasons, or to add value through manufacturer or carrier-specific utilities.
So the key strength is that Android isn’t a “take it leave it” proposition; instead it seems to aspire to Star Trek’s “Infinite Diversity in Infinite Combinations” credo. That seems like a win for consumer choice.
Of course, that means a variety of hardware/firmware combinations where one end of the spectrum may be almost completely different from the other end. And it means when a new version of the operating system rolls out of the Android mothership, it’s not the end of the release process like it is at Apple.
Indeed, it’s where many of the manufacturers buckle down to squash bugs and bring the customizations up to date so the newest OS can run on their hardware . And that can be a very long process indeed.
While Samsung was quick out of the gate with its Galaxy Nexus, not all of the company’s hardware was ready to go at the same time – while the Galaxy Nexus S has gotten the upgrade, the Galaxy S2 is still waiting
(but expected shortly).
Motorola’s XOOM Tablet got the upgrade in the US, but other hardware is still waiting. (While the ROM has apparently leaked for Motorola RAZR’s Ice Cream Sandwich version, we’re still waiting for an official date for the update.)
And while HTC has traditionally been big on Android, its first handset updates aren’t expected until the end of March
, with updates coming throughout the year.
If you’re wondering if your Android device might get the upgrade, there’s a constantly-updating blog post at Computerworld listing the hardware that’s gotten the update, and the hardware that’s expected to get it.
In the meantime, if you’re salivating at the opportunity to try Ice Cream Sandwich but it’s not available for your device yet, you can try to think of it like you would with the delayed gratification of any other treat: when you finally get it in your hands, it’ll taste so much better for the wait.