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Google clarifies 18 month Android upgrade program, details far from solidified

Darren Murph
05.10.11
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We're camped out here at Google'e executive Q&A session, and Andy Rubin and co. are spitting out answers to questions from curious minds. While mentioned briefly in the outfit's keynote earlier, the structured upgrade program is obviously becoming a huge focal point here at the show. One of the major pain points for Android owners in the past (and even now, truthfully) is the inability to know if and when your particular handset will ever get an Android update. Epic 4G owners had a particularly hard go at it, but most everyone outside of Nexus One users have experienced something similar. Unfortunately, it seems as if our excitement may be a bit premature. While LG, Sony Ericsson, Motorola, AT&T, Vodafone, Sprint, Samsung, HTC and Verizon Wireless are technically onboard, all of this feels like it was decided upon at the 11th hour here in San Francisco. When pressed about how long it'd take updates to flow to phones after given the thumbs-up by Google itself, there's no hard news to report. In fact, the details there are still being hashed out.

To quote Google, "It's a logistics problem." We can only imagine. Trying to get every Android partner to follow a timeline for releases has to be a complete and utter nightmare, but the company seems certain that these stipulations won't cripple anyone's ability to innovate on their skins (or have too little time to make the needed changes).

We would've loved to hear a specific figure that we could start holding phone manufacturers to, but alas, it isn't to be. The only hard number thrown out today is 18 months. That's how long future hardware will be in the support cycle (at least, anyway), so you'll "soon" be able to count on your next Android device receiving all applicable updates for 1.5 years after purchase. As for phones that use custom skins, like Blur and Sense? Hard to say if that'll slow things down, and it's even harder to say if outfits like Dell will be joining this party at any time in the future. Though, to be fair, Andy Rubin clarified that there's an "open invitation" for anyone not listed to waltz on in. Naturally, we'll keep you abreast of any further developments from the show floor.

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