I'm happy to see Ice Cream Sandwich on more devices. Congratulations to Sony on joining the bleeding edge.

It took Sony only about 5 months to ship this after I released the code in the Android Open Source Project at the very end of last year. This is actually a very reasonable time, since under the hood Ice Cream Sandwich is quite different from Honeycomb (and upgrades from Gingerbread are likely to take longer as those differences are huge).

Since Sony has been contributing a lot to the Android Open Source Project, they have fewer changes that they need to maintain on their own: those changes of theirs are already there when the source code is first released. That's probably one of the reasons why they could get done faster: the work they did preparing those contributions gave them a head start. I don't think that any other manufacturer has been contributing nearly as much as Sony did, so everyone else is now going to have to play catch-up.

The part that blows my mind is that some variants of the Google-engineered flagship devices still haven't received Ice Cream Sandwich (or are stuck with older versions of Ice Cream Sandwich) because of delays introduced by operator approvals. I'm very glad that Google is back in the business of selling phones directly without any middlemen to interfere, and I'll be even happier when I see that program expanded to more countries.
OK guys, it is finally here! Android™ 4.0 (or as it is fondly called, Ice Cream Sandwich) is now available for Sony Tablet™ S. There are a lot of cool new things you can do now with the firmware upgra...
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It only took google like 5 months to release it and THEY WROTE IT... ~sigh
Is that some Moto burn or has the non US Xoom got ICS now?
If only Google can push OTAs for Nexuses outside the States faster. Having to unlock bootloader and sideload apks to catchup is something I should not need to do as a Nexus S owner in Asia.
"The part that blows my mind is that some variants of the Google-engineered flagship devices still haven't received Ice Cream Sandwich (or are stuck with older versions of Ice Cream Sandwich) because of delays introduced by operator approvals."

Yea that sux... the main reason why I haven't upgraded. Is there any chance of seeing a True Nexus on Verizon?
+James Finstrom - Writing the software doesn't mean that Google can deploy it immediately, there are operator approvals for devices that are sold and/or supported by operators. Look at the US WiFi Xoom: obviously no operator approval, upgraded to 4.0.3 back in December (the first version of ICS that ran on anything other than Galaxy Nexus) and now running 4.0.4.
+François Bacconnet - I didn't get a chance to see that work up-close. I spend most of my time with flagship devices (those days, Nexus S, Galaxy Nexus, Xoom, and I have a Nexus One floating around in case I can improve the AOSP support for it).
I wonder who did the work for the ASUS Transformer line, NVidia or ASUS. They had ICS on the Prime in 2 months time.
+Sci Wizam ASUS are great for updates , quantity even if quality is sometimes off but that is a lot easier when you only have one or two devices.
+Steve McClure - Hard to say. VZW is a relatively small carrier in the worldwide picture, given that the phone needs to be adapted specifically for their network, and it's unclear that it's possible to run arbitrary devices on their network without their approval (since there's no SIM, you need to explicitly activate the device with them).
I'm very glad that Google is back in the business of selling phones directly without any middlemen to interfere +Jean-Baptiste Queru

You and me both. My hope is that the Galaxy Nexus being sold on the +Google Play store is the beginning of a trend. Perhaps the next Nexus will be sold there by the end of the year and, ideally, without a period of carrier exclusivity.
Why is it do you think Jean that more companies don't contribute code back to AOSP for their devices? Do licensing issues often get in the way? Or is it more laziness or an old proprietary mindset?
Wow, surprisingly (or maybe not so surprisingly) candid assessment of the upgrade situation, JBQ!
+Sci Wizam - As far as I know, the company behind the core chip (both for CPU and graphics) is always involved, and the manufacturer obviously is, so in that case I'd say it's both ASUS and NVIDIA.
+Jean-Baptiste Queru , ce que je ne comprends pas trop bien c'est que si Google a acheté Motorola, pourquoi les devices au moins de chez "eux" si on peut dire ne migrent pas plus vite ? Droid 3 par exemple.
Excellente`. Kind of surprising to see this from Sony, given their reputation in other areas. But this is bueno. :) +Jean-Baptiste Queru now if +Google can get everyone to release all their sources, merge them into AOSP, then we're talking. I know, probably an impossibility, but I can dream!
The Android priority should now be: fast/quick updates.

If manufacturers/operators would be forced to not install their stuff in the system itself that would be great!

To please them, they should be allowed to only "force apps d/l in the Play Store". Let's say a configuration files that would tell the Play Store to automatically install these apps with their corresponding homescreen icons upon a fresh install.

And custom launchers should be choose by users: pure google or sense/wiz/blur? You choose, not them!

Make my dreams come true! :D
+Jean-Baptiste Queru Thanks for enlightening us on the issues with phones. I had a Nexus S 4G, it is updated now, but I wondered what the delays were about.
I am thinking about getting an unlocked phone and going with T-Mobile. However there is a bit more of a reluctance because I see the technology down the line to invest in it. Also I have another year on my sprint contract.
The Motorola Xoom WiFi is the perfect example of what happens without carrier interference. It was updated from Honeycomb 3.0 to Ice Cream Sandwich the fastest of the lot. Why? Because it was a Google Experience Device & didn't have a US mobile telco running interference. The US telcos do not want to become dumb pipes. The end.
+Mike Youngstrom - I can imagine plenty of reasons, along the same lines as your guesses, but that's really a question for the manufacturers themselves.

Licensing issues potentially get in the way: manufacturers have access to a lot of information from their suppliers that can't be used in Open-Source systems, so they need to navigate between all those restrictions to find what they can Open-Source. Since Android has always been meant to be Open-Sourced, Google has been paying very close attention to those issues since the very beginning.

There's potentially a proprietary mindset: it's easy to believe that contributing your implementation upstream gives your competitors an edge. I disagree with that assessment, because getting your implementation upstream means that your competitors now have to adapt to your approach of doing things while you can race ahead since your code is already there and maintained for you.

Finally, there's a difference in engineering timeframes between software and hardware, and that causes culture conflicts for manufacturers that need to live on both sides at the same time. At the hardware level, once the hardware is engineered, manufactured and shipped, there's nothing that can be done. On the software side, more engineering work is needed after a device ships, in order to keep the software updated. That difference is huge: hardware engineers might work 6 months on a device while software engineers might work 2 to 3 years on the same device.
+Andre McPhail It is an interesting example since the non US WIFI only Xoom still doesn't have ICS afaik. Carriers provide a great excuse for manufacturers but to some extent it is just an excuse.
Awesome post - great to know there's at least one major manufacturer that seems to really grok the OSS approach and how to leverage its potential; they deserve a shout-out for it. And FWIW, I know I'll take a second look at their stuff because of this.

Nice to get the confirmation about why ICS was delayed for some Nexus devices, too. I always suspected as much, but I don't like to just assume.
Hey, can you tell Sony to tell Verizon to go to hell and let us unlock the CDMA versions of our Xperia phones? I've got a Play, and it's running ICS now because I was fortunate enough to exploit a bug in Sony's bootloader unlock website (at one point they were only doing javascript form validation, no server side validation). They've since fixed the bug, so no more unlocks for people (for free at least). They're lying to us, they can unlock CDMA devices no problem. I don't think it's Sony, I'm sure it's VZW due to their stance on unlocked bootloaders.

It's highly annoying that I can go read about how Sony intends to bring ICS to all their 2011 devices (in fact, the betas have already hit XDA Devs) but the vast majority of VZW users will never see them b/c VZW would rather us buy a new phone and lock into paying them more money for longer rather than using our perfectly good hardware longer! (VZW has said that they will not bring ICS to the Xperia Play).
+Steve Rodrigue I'd love to see all the various skins relegated to no more than just an app that is preinstalled, but replaceable. I'm up for renewal with VZW at the end of this year. I'd love to be able to buy my next phone directly from google on VZW, with ota's and support directly from google. I'd like to see something like a Droid Razr Maxx with all soft buttons (razr hd?). Very interested in Intels future chip and a desktop mode.....i digress. Great work +Jean-Baptiste Queru!
aww, I checked last night and didn't see this available for Sony Tab S yet. maybe they just released it right now.
+Christine Paluch - One of the advantages of going for an unlocked unsubsidized phone is that it gives you more freedom to shop around, and to sign up for shorter contracts or even no contracts at all, paying month-by-month. With unlocked devices, it's easier to keep up with the bleeding edge, since you can easily sell your previous device when a newer model is available.
I still find it poor that developers on XDA without access to device-specific source can knock out stable, functional ROMs in a matter of days and it takes hardware dev teams months. If they're under-resourced, they need to get more people. Updates are still a huge problem for Android.
+Jean-Baptiste Queru I know that but the time I didn't perceive a difference and I get the feeling I'm not alone. Ideally that kind of difference would be indicated by having a different name.
+Christophe Versieux perhaps, but then where's consumer choice? The first manufacturer that sorts out the update process, gets upgrades out first and gets a reputation for getting upgrades out fast is going to do really well in the future.
+Peter Sinnott - Yes, it's unfortunately hard to actually see the difference at the time of purchase. It's hard for any company to make an promise about updates (either about availability, timing, or content). If something goes horribly wrong and derails the plan, nobody wants to end up with a broken promise on their hands.
As long as you don't have Android Cupcake at this moment, you're good, right? :)
+Christen Perey - Nexus S is still a great phone today. It actually gives me good hope that the insane pace of hardware updates will slow down a bit: Nexus S hardware is soon gonna be 2 years old (it's essentially the same as Galaxy S) and can still comfortably run the latest OS.

There's no fundamental need any more to buy the latest and greatest hardware every 6 months to get the latest OS, you just need a device that receives updates.
Sounds like you are the man to know when it comes to Nexus and Android. If Google can sell me the next nexus directly in the UK, they have a buyer.
+Christophe Versieux : I don't agree about your comment on XDA. The XDA enthousiasts (this includes me) are really fast to fix bugs, workaround and dig into issues. High quality roms have more "beta testing" than many official roms I'm pretty sure. XDA have the best beta testers in the world: the enthousiats community which is commited to their devices. The enthousiasts are the first to complain about bugs and want them to be fixed.

I know a lot of average users who endures bugs, software glitches on their smartphones (or any othe electronics), they don't complain, they don't fight for a fix. They endure!

If I was to start making smartphones (I wish!), I would give XDA community a load of phones to play with and use this community to improve and support them. I mean not ditching tech. support, but to crowd-source the tech-support.

The enthousiasts can become the best ambassadors or your worst ennemies, it depends how you threat them.

Ref: +David Caunt
+Jean-Baptiste Queru yes, that's true. I do like what sony did with the Tablet S. The universal remote control idea is brilliant. Now if I could just stop time like that movie "click" It would be awesome.
+Leon Gouletsas - Well the glass is also half-full, both Apple and Google can immediately push updates to the devices that they engineer and support directly.

To take another analogy, even though Apple is the primary maintainer of WebKit, they cannot push updates to Symbian, Blackberry, WebOS or Android phones, all they can do is release patches as Open-Source and wait.
Isn't it true that the reason the manufacturers need so long to push a new Android update, is because they're customizing it way too much? If they were to just limit their customization to being just more of a "theme" (background, colours, icons, logos), then they'd be able to turn it around in such a short time.
Really love the posts and discussions from you Jean-Baptiste :) You and everyone here should read the blogpost that Sony-Ericsson wrote on updating to 4.0 from 2.3 with their devices. Writing the actual software was not the main time (or money) sink, getting the devices re-approved and re-certified in all the different countries by different agencies was the real time waster to push updates. They even mention that this is why ROMs and mods can release quickly because they don't have to do any certifications or testing at all. I will try to find a link to the bloggpost and post it here (writing this from my Asus Transformer Prime with sweet sweet ICS)
YAAAAY !! got lots of work still todo, but can't wait to put the Sony S on ICS..
My Galaxy Nexus received 4.0.4 yesterday, now Sony S, and my g/f's Xperia Ray within a couple of days on ICS.. nice nice.
Indeed, kudos to Sony !
+Jean-Baptiste Queru Unfortunately, that means you must buy a Nexus device on GSM sans contract. I am currently on +AT&T and would like to get the Galaxy Nexus when I upgrade later this year but it would require me to get a new phone on contract then sell it to cover the $399 off-contract.
Sad it takes so long for Samsung to update the Galaxy Tab 10.1
This is one of the first tablets, there was the Google IO edition, they had early access to ICS (for galaxy nexus), they have ics to other phones too (s2) but still no update to 10.1
They seem to prefer to release new hardware instead (new tab 10.1,...). It does not give much trust in them.
If they were to choose to forget "old" (!) stuff, then at least open or give us all needed drivers to adapt AOSP!
(written from my samsung forgotten Galaxy S running CM9)
+Christophe Versieux: It would be very easy to make all Smartphones unbrickable! I work with Cisco hardware since 1998 and their hardware can't be bricked. There is a minimal "rom" on every equipment Cisco make which let us reflash any version of code we want on it. This could easily be done on any modern smartphones. It's a choice and it's not complicated.
+Daniel Cook - Indeed, there are still some situations where it's hard to get bring-your-own-phone service for cheaper than the usual 2-year-subsidized-phone contract. I was surprised that AT&T charges $50 a month to get prepaid unlimited data whereas T-Mobile has it for $30 (admittedly AT&T throws in unlimited voice, which I personally don't care for).
Thanks +Jean-Baptiste Queru that description did help clarify the long process of manufacturers adopting a new release. I personally don't care so much about which version of Android I'm running. I've got Cyanogen Mod 6 (Froyo based) on my Nexus One and Gingerbread on my Galaxy Tab and they're working fine and doing all the things I need them to. People need to chill out and stop driving themselves crazy to get the latest OS, when a lot of them don't even know what they want it for. If my phone or tablet tells me one day I can have ICS, I'll say sure, install it. But I'm not going to stress and chase after it.
+Jean-Baptiste Queru And that unlimited data for AT&T prepaid can only be used on feature phones...
"†Smartphone users must purchase a data package to use data services on eligible plans. Pay–per–use data is not available with Smartphones" http://goo.gl/knzyQ
Regardless, the point is that you can choose a different carrier if that isn't satisfactory for you. Having a pentaband HSPA+ device is the best!
+Brandon Froehlich - I believe it means that they won't let you pay for data by the kB ($2 per MB, ouch), and that you have to buy blocks of 50MB or more (up to and including unlimited for a month). It's very possible that I don't understand their pricing structure, or that such plans are only available in the San Francisco area. They definitely seem to sell Android phones in their goPhone program here, with the $50 unlimited prepaid plan.
+Jean-Baptiste Queru True. Either way, the fact that we have these options is fantastic. GSM is the way. I just hope there can be some sort of interoperability with LTE going forward.
When talking about cellular networks/carriers, I always like to use the analogy to computers. Can you imagine purchasing a laptop that can only be used with one internet provider? When you go on vacation, you can't connect to the hotel's WiFi because you don't have a compatible carrier. You go to a friend's LAN party, but sadly can't join because their provider isn't the same as yours...
What I'd like to see is the Ubuntu Android project pull through and get support from OEMs. It'll be really nice to have an Android Phone and docked to be a full blown Ubuntu OS.
+Samsung Mobile sucks! Galaxy Tab 10.1 still stuck on Honeycomb, even though at @google I/O 2011 they gave away this tablet.
+Brandon Froehlich While I agree with your sentiment, I don't think that is an analogy to computers because smartphones are computers. Along the same line of thinking, why do any smartphones have locked bootloaders? Can you imagine purchasing a laptop that does not let you install Windows or Linux onto it?
+Christen Perey - Well, arguably some would prefer to have an Android phone that docks into a full-blown Android desktop (with whatever intermediate steps make sense), but I agree that'd also be a nice option.

I wonder how to solve the security issues in Ubuntu where all apps run as the same UID, aren't isolated from individual features via permissions, and can access one another's files, though.
+Michael Moss That's exactly right. I've said that to people before as well. It is satisfying that Google devices are open and free, just like they should be.
+Jean-Baptiste Queru Do you know in general how much of a say Google has over the non-AOSP supported Nexus S/Galaxy Nexus variants? Is it a US Xoom/non-US Xoom situation where Samsung could fork it/add Touchwiz, or is the only difference the slight carrier modifications/different update schedule?
+Jean-Baptiste Queru :) if google is working on a full blown Android Desktop OS, i'd be all in in buying that thing a desktop that comes with Android Desktop OS. :)
+David Lawerteh - As I understand, all variants of Galaxy Nexus are under tight Google control, with minimum variations (tweaks to the network-level handling, default language, additional input methods, applications removed when they can't be shipped to certain countries). Those aren't like the common devices where manufacturers have a lot of control. The same was true for Nexus One. As for Nexus S, Google directly did the engineering work on all variants.
+Christen Perey - Well, I've used Android on a PandaBoard as a desktop OS (with the tablet UI), and it's remarkably usable. The biggest difficulty is that many 3rd-party apps don't expect to be used with a keyboard+mouse instead of a touchscreen, but the core system works amazingly well.
It would be awesome if the Galaxy Nexus could switch to the tablet UI when plugged into a larger screen either via MHL or the HDMI dock.
+Jean-Baptiste Queru So when people say a particular flagship variants updates are "controlled by Samsung", all that actually means is that part of the engineering is delegated to Samsung, but the end result is tested/pushed out by Google as usual. Am I getting that right?
+David Lawerteh - I know it's a bit more complex than that overall (because operators as also involved). But you have it right that from one variant to the next the engineering work gets split differently between Samsung and Google.

Google tends to have more involvement in the variants that target the US, since we're local, while Samsung are long-time experts at managing the subtle differences between all the countries and operators.

For Nexus S, all variants got engineered by Google "on paper", but in reality a lot of the Korea-specific changes for sojuk came from Samsung, and that created a lot of inefficiencies. I'm glad we're not doing that any more, as there's no way we'd have been able to scale that up to more than a dozen variants for Galaxy Nexus.
Does getting carrier approvals influence the release cycle to unbranded independent phones? As in, would I have to wait for e.g. 4.1 longer that necessary, because carriers don't want unapproved images installed on their subsidized phones?

Also, will Google still go with Samsung for the next Nexus, as rumored? Samsung doing their usual shtick by releasing non-yakju variants doesn't sit too well with me or anyone else. If you don't get your hands on the first batch of phones, your chances will be off. Either way, I think Google should pester Samsung into implementing more rugged case design (things like steel support frame, and so on) and bigger batteries, since Motorola's probably not going to be chosen to avoid showing any sort of perceived favoritism.
Quote from +Jean-Baptiste Queru : "I'm glad we're not doing that any more, as there's no way we'd have been able to scale that up to more than a dozen variants for Galaxy Nexus.".

This may be why (in part) Apple is not making a lot of iPhone variants.
Thanks for explaining de upgrade process. A question remains: if the manufacturers have to go through different certifications, why would this not be the case for custom ROMs? Is there any regulation that would forbid the use or selling of phones with custom ROMs because they are not certified?
+Jean-Baptiste Queru "I have a Nexus One floating around in case I can improve the AOSP support for it"

Is there any chance of that? It's sad seeing a (the first!) Google flagship phone completely abandoned...
+Mario Goebbels - Luckily, carrier approvals only extend to the devices for which they provide user support. Part of the GSM ecosystem is the implicit possibility that users might be running a wider variety of devices than what any given operator sells and supports.

I can't talk about any detailed plans for any future device, sorry. I try to support any new flagship device as well as possible in AOSP, regardless of the manufacturer. Certainly, from my position working on AOSP, I personally have no influence on hardware device (if I did, we'd all have 5-row physical keyboards and thick batteries).
+Tobias Britz - Good question, I don't know, and this is a question from a lawyer. At my level, I deal with Open-Source, so I know that the source code that I release isn't tied to any field-of-use restrictions, but I have no visibility over the regulatory aspects.
+Juan Font - I released the WiFi firmware binary for Nexus One not long ago, and if I'm given an opportunity to release more (binaries or factory images) I expect that I will. Nexus One runs Gingerbread well, so it's not that far behind, Gingerbread was still bleeding-edge in AOSP just 6 months ago.
I must admit, I really liked the T-Mobile G2 for it's keyboard. Now with Swype and dictation getting better It's going to be interesting to see how we adapt to various input methods in the future.
+Jean-Baptiste Queru Then there are those of us who are stuck on VZ because GSM carriers (T-Mobile and AT&T) have horrible coverage where we work/play/live. Are unlocked CDMA devices a possibility?
+Juan Otero - I'm not an expert there.

I know that there are possibilities of roaming between VZW and Sprint. I know that at some point in the past some devices from either of those could be unlocked and used on MetroPCS. I know that there's a spec for the CDMA equivalent of SIM cards.

I'm guessing it might be possible, but I don't know for sure that it is, and I have no idea how far we are from it.
+Jean-Baptiste Queru In the Netherlands both yakju and yakjuxw are sold without contract and unlocked. Perhaps the yakjuxw phones are imported from elsewhere in Europe. I've read a lot on the different variants and the consensus seems to be that the yakjuxw phones will be upgraded by Samsung.

I don't think that this should be a problem in itself, but people expect that their phone will be directly upgraded by Google if they buy a Nexus device. I think people are confused by the fact that they have no clue they bought a Samsung supported phone instead of a Google supported phone. In the end, I think they don't know who to look to when they want more information about updates. When they find out Google (you) released the factory images for Android 4.0.4, and the OTA update has started, they expect to get the update as well.

I think the problem lies in the communication, that's why I really appreciate you explaining this stuff to us.
+Juan Otero It seems to me that the CDMA carriers (Sprint, Verizon) have control of which devices are allowed on their network by the use of the ESN. This inherently prevents devices from arbitrarily joining/leaving the network as the owner pleases.
+Sander Tuit - Engineering on the yakjuxw variant is primarily driven by Samsung, while on the yakju variant it's primarily driven by Google. In both cases, both companies have some influence, so there's no sharp separation.

For all I know, the consumer-visible schedule impact in terms of updates is tied to the time difference between Korea and California, which amounts to an extra day for a round-trip, and is negligible compared to the delays introduced by operator approvals.

The difference between yakju and yakjuxw is unfortunately a lot more visible for AOSP, because at the moment AOSP support is tied to the devices for which engineering is primarily driven by Google.
+Jean-Baptiste Queru ah, thanks, I didn't know that. The perception that it takes (quite a bit) longer for the yakjuxw devices to be upgraded might be due to the fact that the update process was on hold for a couple of weeks (for yakju) as well. Thanks again for answering!
Well said JBQ. I think Google should put their chips down on mobile infrastructure. This is not only to alleviate these issues but also innovate on this front. I'd buy "Google Wireless" in a heartbeat.
I really enjoyed every single comment in this post. Thank you +Jean-Baptiste Queru ..
I hope every unlocked Galaxy Nexus gets OTA update all at once in the near future, no matter what the build is either yakju, takju, yakjuxw, yajusc, yakjukr or yakjuux.
Moreover, Sony deserves building the next nexus device; they are like.no.other
+Jean-Baptiste Queru not sure if you can confirm or deny this but was the main reason the Nexus One support stopped was because of the small internal memory? Also you say that you had no say in the hardware so was it Samsungs decision to remove removal storage from Nexus devices?
+Keven Gélinas - There's no user-visible way to get a count. Technically, the data exists somewhere, indirectly, but I don't think it should be made visible. If it became visible, I'm worried that it would become a PR tool for those companies, who'd then be under pressure to be on that leaderboard and would sacrifice the quality of their contributions for a quick boost on a meaningless ranking. Leaderboards don't make a difference for end users, but what Sony has been doing does, and I wouldn't want them to change that.
+Mark Dodsworth - Flash storage was definitely a serious issue, and I think that there were also some concerns about the capabilities of the GPU.

I meant that as the lead AOSP engineer I don't personally have any influence on the Nexus hardware. Google as a company definitely does, but I'm not personally involved in that process. I've clarified my earlier comment about that.
+Jean-Baptiste Queru That's a good point.
Maybe not the number of contribution but maybe the major milestone that helped improve Android. If their work make it easier for them to upgrade thats great because Android Upgrade Alliance already seem to be dead for the majority of the Open Headset Alliance members that join it. It now seem like a PR tool that will backlash right in their face.

Android have made such a big leap in the last year that it's frustrating for some people that I know to wait for the latest release from their carrier or whatever their reasons for holding back the upgrade. Having Google sell the international version of their smartphone is I hope a first step before others join in with their device and make some pressure on carriers.

Again thanks for your excelent work.
+Keven Gélinas - I'm assuming that any kind of leaderboard would have perverse effects. Even if we try to recognize specific significant contributions, the process to decide would be arbitrary, and that'd be an incentive for contributors to abandon any potential contributions that wouldn't be big enough to make that leaderboard.

In the end, what matters is that those companies serve their users best. Anything that they do on AOSP only achieves those goals indirectly, and I'd rather let those companies interact with AOSP in the ways that make the most sense for them, without telling them that one way is better than another.
+Jean-Baptiste Queru Does Google plan to start linking from the Nexus sales page to compatible carriers? It seems that very few people are aware of Straight Talk's new BYOD SIM-only plans, which in my opinion are a perfect match for the Galaxy Nexus, being the only carrier I know of other than T-Mobile that does not charge you extra for a contract subsidy you don't use. (Admittedly, they're not really a carrier but an AT&T MVNO - but still, they're one of the few places you can buy a plan from and NOT pay for subsidy charges even if you don't have a subsidized phone.)

You've reminded me that I really need to get back to figuring out why my Pandaboard and my Sharp AQUOS don't play well together... :)

Also, thanks for the additional insight into Sony. A lot of the developers on XDA have been following them closely and considering switching due to their developer-friendly policies. They probably would already have a lot of converts if not for their rather nasty history involving screwing over developers without warning in the past (see OtherOS on PS3 as an example - at least one of the ERDs over on XDA has been sued by Sony in the past.) - but if they keep up the good work, many of us may be going in their direction for our next device. I've been pretty loyal to Samsung device-wise lately, but their anti-developer practices with non-Nexus devices combined with the recent rash of broken ICS leak kernels that are damaging eMMC chips right and left with no way to provide proper feedback is getting frustrating.
+Andrew Dodd - I don't know what Google's plans are in that domain.

Speaking very personally here, on the one hand I can see how having such listings would make it easier for people to find service. On the other hand, I can imagine the benefits of limiting operator influence as much as possible. For now I'll assume that people buying phones directly from Google are savvy enough to do a Google search to find service options, but since I'm not a marketing person I might be very very wrong here.
You are so right. I kept wondering my my Yakju Galaxy Nexus still hadn't received OTA to 4.0.4. Kept saying it was up to date. (I have the international GSM, with TMobile US SIM). So, remembering that I couldn't get Google Wallet on it because TMobile ordered it hidden in the market, and I got it by slipping in an old inactive Cingular SIM, I decided to try the same. Guess what. After a reboot with the inactive Cingular SIM, clear of the Google Services settings and a check for updates, there it was! So, T-Mobile was blocking my upgrade to 4.0.4 -- I would suppose because 4.0.4 contains the Wallet in the firmware? But having a carrier get in the way of getting the latest performance and security updates really, really annoys me.
+Todd Montague - Most probably the actual reason why you got the update is the fact that you rebooted, and in the process of re-connecting to Google's server it got the notification that an update was available.
+Mohamed Alzaabi - Unfortunately, I don't know. That variant is primarily Samsung-engineered, and I don't know what the approval chain is for that specific variant. That's where Samsung brings their expertise: they know how to ship many different variants of devices all around the world.
+Jean-Baptiste Queru noted that "VZW is a relatively small carrier in the worldwide picture, given that the phone needs to be adapted specifically for their network, and it's unclear that it's possible to run arbitrary devices on their network without their approval".

Here is the USA, VZW is the big dog on the carrier block. However they did undertake some very specific network openness obligations when they won spectrum under Auction 73. Somebody needs to HOLD THEM to these obligations.

I got my GNex on VZW because a) it was available there first and b) their LTE network is really nice. Giving up LTE speeds is not an option for me, neither is buying a new phone 4 months into a two year contract. But if Google could sell Nexus devices directly that would run on a good LTE network, then that would definitely be my next phone. I wonder what Nexus (and Android) will look like in 2014.
Rolling out a 5 month old update is hardly bleeding edge.
does this mean the next Android major release is going to be closer to ics than ics was to gingerbread?
I'm glad too that Google is back again selling phones directly.
Who cares how long it takes for OTA's to come out, I root and run my own ROM's, problem solved.
I understand why picking an expert like Samsung for your flagship devices makes sense, but Google should really either give a chance or have some similar program for the "other guys". Don't get me wrong, Samsung devices are great, but it would rock if LG or Sony or HTC could do one.
+Simon Pasieka - That's why we've been switching manufacturers for each flagship device (HTC, Motorola, HTC, Samsung, Motorola, Samsung). Same thing or CPU vendors (Qualcomm, TI, Qualcomm, Samsung, NVIDIA, TI).
I wonder if Nvidia will ever release sources with kernel beyond 2.6, maybe with Key Lime Pie succesor this will eventually happens...
And, BTW I really hope the next Google Phone will run Qualcomm S4 PRO or Samsung 5250 SOC with LTE :P
Having Sony contribute massive amounts of code to Android sets off my spidey senses. Hopefully these aren't the same coders for Sony that deployed rootkits[1] or couldn't be arsed to protect their private key[2] leading to PS3 breakage. What does put me at ease about Sony contributing code to Android codebase however is that Google has awesome people like +Jean-Baptiste Queru to review it.

JBQ: I hope you and Eugenia are well, and that you might find a way to convince the higher ups to sell the CDMA version of future Nexus devices on the Play Store, and be able to bypass carrier control over updates that way! Take care!
+Jean-Baptiste Queru "nobody wants to end up with a broken promise on their hands."
Maybe it wasn't ever officially promised, but losing AOSP support for my verizon GNEX was disappointing. Any chance verizon will have a change of heart and we get bleeding edge support back?

"I personally have no influence on hardware device (if I did, we'd all have 5-row physical keyboards"
"and thick batteries)."

I love the personal feedback you provide I tip my hat.
What I don't understand is, why do variants like yakjuxw have to exist at all? Why not ship yakju everywhere? The hardware is the same, the radios are the same. Pentaband GSM does the rest. Is it really just for the default language? Or to stagger the OTA updates if something goes wrong?

By the way, +Jean-Baptiste Queru , I love your personal engagement. Google needs more of your type.
+Paul Eubanks It's not that part of Sony but rather the old Sony Ericsson (ie. mostly Ericsson people). It's still mostly the same people submitting from what I've seen in Gerrit. :)

Thinking like that, you should probably be more concerned that the NSA commits to AOSP. Granted, that's for SE Android though. The good thing about Android being open source is that you could revert any commit by some part you don't trust, as long as you have the ability to fix the issues that will arise.

+Lorenzo Quiroli Consider that the jump from GB to ICS was a jump from API level 9 to level 15 (2.3 to 4.0.3+) or from level 10 to level 14 (2.3.4 to 4.0), ie. you basically jumped two major versions. There also seems to have been quite a lot of changes to the kernel layer too which affects driver development. GB on the other hand was a jump of a single API level.

+Raymond Rodgers The CDMA carriers in the US don't seem interested to improve interoperability between them so I wouldn't count on it. That seems to hold true for the US carriers in general. Instead of competing with the quality of their service they seem perfer locking people into long contracts, carrier locked phones and incompatible standards or frequencies. That's how it looks from the outside at least. :(

+Jean-Baptiste Queru I know that you have no say in the matter but it would be nice to see multiband LTE in the next Nexus. GSM + LTE in general would be nice.

Also, it would be nice to either see samples of the bigram statistics file used as input for makedict or more official dictionaries. It doubt it would cost that much to buy/license a few more for Google.
Lastly, I think all Google apps should be upgraded with xhdpi icons. I doubt that would add more than a few 100 kb to the apk size and it really looks a lot better, as they should on a flagship device.
+Paul Eubanks - Sony is a very large company, with many divisions. Engineering practices can be expected to vary a lot from one division to the next.

Sony Mobile (the division that does Android phones and tablets) is the one that came from Sony Ericsson after Sony bought out Ericsson's part in the joint venture. Through the Android Open Source Project, I've been working with them for quite a while, and I'm convinced that their engineers are top-notch.
I have a general question about how source is integrated into the Android tree. I've seen that new branches (e.g. ICS) come with stock support for 1 CPU (OMAP) and a few hardware platforms (GN, Pandaboard). This seems like it makes quite a lot of additional work for your partners since they have to integrate quite a lot of code to get ICS working on non-TI hardware.

I'm curious why more hardware platforms aren't built into the main source? Is this by design, or was TI the only vendor willing to publish enough code to put it into AOSP? Just seems like a lot of duplicated effort and more risk of bugs creeping into individual manufacturer's final firmware.
+Ron Saldanha - I'm not quite sure that I'd want Android to turn into Windows. Intel released the 80386 in 1985 with a brand new instruction set, and it took Microsoft 16 years to use those instructions natively in an entire consumer OS (windows XP).
+John Luikart - Well, part of the difficulty with supporting toro (the VZW Galaxy Nexus) in AOSP is that we don't even know which companies to ask for licenses. Most probably Samsung knows (or at least could get us one step closer), since the files in question are delivered to Google by Samsung. Changes are, VZW could make things happen, since they're Samsung's customer.
The trend seems to be that the hardware can be build first, the software is always behind. Can that be fixed? i.e. Running a flagship Android device for 2 years always having the latest OS, and I mean always the latest Android OS.
+Thomas Altmann - Actually, the hardware varies (not all versions support the same 5 bands), the radios vary (there are different radios as least in Japan, Korea, Canada, Hong Kong and Australia).

There are additional differences. As an example, some apps can't ship in all countries and need to be removed on some models. Other countries have regulations that require additional apps or settings or specific features that would break is other countries. Shipping in some countries requires additional input methods that need to be licensed. In some cases, some languages need to be removed.

Once you put together all those constraints, you end up with the current set of builds, and that's probably still not enough to cover the entire world. I've heard that in some cases some devices have up to 80 variants in order to handle all the possible situations.
is it true that samsung controls the updates for the galaxy nexus that are not on theyakju build?

my version is from HK and im stuck on 4.0.2. its unlocked though. was never on a carrier.
+Michael Giacomelli - Support for individual chip families is related to the flagship devices. Google's approach is to switch partners for each flagship devices, to minimize the risk that a given version would be tuned specifically for a single manufacturer. ICS as released by Google runs on Samsung, NVIDIA and TI chips.

Personally, I don't think it's possible to claim to support a given chip without actually building and deeply testing a device with that chip. Without thousands of man-months of testing, the most subtle issues can't be found, and such testing is only effective if it's done on real devices in the hands of a wide variety of testers.
+Ron Saldanha - Well, the way Windows works like that is by forcing decades worth of legacy hardware, while at the same time limiting itself to not using the latest features (e.g. Windows XP didn't use MMX or PPro instructions). Neither of those is currently an option in the mobile world, where there's a far larger variety of hardware than in the PC world.
That makes sense, but why only choose one each generation? For instance, the pandaboard and GN were both supported for ICS, but they're both OMAP4 series devices. If the goal is to avoid tailoring the software to one platform, I would lean towards releasing on a Qualcomm or Samsung reference board instead of a TI one. Or is it just that you already had the OMAP4 work done, so adding the Pandaboard was easy? Time/resource constraints then?

FWIW, over on rockbox.org, we do simultaneous releases on Coldfire and ARM devices, and we've been pretty happy with that system. Very few people still use CF now that Moto is going ARM, so in principle we could probably drop it, but having the extra CPU targets is useful to us because it forces us to properly abstract the operating system from the underlying hardware. Before this when we released on just one CPU, we had a very bad tendency to build around the hardware which made porting to new platforms extremely difficult. Developing on multiple CPUs forces us to abstract things correctly from the start.

Of course we're a tiny project compared to Android, so perhaps our experience is not applicable, but I'm curious about your perspective.
+Oliver Schulze - For all practical purposes, hardware and software need to be engineered together as much as possible. Some hardware-level issues aren't found without the relevant software to exercise the hardware in user-like conditions, and some software issues only appear on real hardware.

That's one of the reasons why upgrading existing devices is difficult: at that point, if you find hardware-level issues, you can't do anything about them. If Ice Cream Sandwich requires some GPU functions that weren't required in Gingerbread (it does), and if those GPU functions are either missing, buggy or slow in existing chips (that happens too), manufacturers end up having to make hard choices: deeply re-work the software to work around the hardware, ship with a slow user experience, or not ship at all.
Was about to complain how my Yakju galaxy nexus was still waiting on 4.0.4 but while scrolling through the comments I got the upgrade. What sorcery is this?
+Johann Fojas - The thread is long, so you'll have to go dig back for my earlier comments on that. In short: there are some subtle differences in the engineering processes for the different variants, but those are negligible compared to operator approvals.
+Ron Saldanha - Well, as an Open Source project, we can't restrict which hardware Android runs on. And, obviously, the compatibility definition needs to be broad enough that it's practical for manufacturers to innovate without falling out of the scope of compatibility.

To take an example: Gingerbread as released in AOSP didn't support multi-core CPUs. Having a strict policy would have prevented manufacturers from shipping multi-core Gingerbread devices, but openness made that possible.
+Michael Giacomelli - The Android team still sharply remembers Eclair, where we were doing 2 flagship devices at the same time. It was painful for everyone, because we had separate teams doing product management, but a single engineering team. That's how we ended up separating 2.0 and 2.1 and being in a continuous release cycle for almost 6 months, that's how we even had to fork Android in two branches at the end of Eclair.

We get exposure to a broader hardware variety by maintaining multiple flagship devices at the same time. It's really good, because e.g. Nexus S makes us think about RAM usage whereas Xoom makes us worry about system size on-flash.

PandaBoard was a special case: usually, low-level system bringup is done on expensive proprietary boards, but since for OMAP4 PandaBoard was already available it made sense to do OMAP4 bringup on it instead. That's how there was enough PandaBoard support left in the source tree that I could piggyback on it and revive it for AOSP with TI's help.
+Jean-Baptiste Queru I have several questions. 1) When is the AT&T version of ICS being released for the Nexus S as an OTA since the initial launch was hindered? Would you recommend just installing it manually? 2) When will the Verizon Galaxy Nexus be updated to 4.0.4? Can you at least inform me that Verizon is testing it for release? 3) The Xoom 4G, similar questions as the G-Nex.
I wish i had a crystal ball to see that the US GSM Nexus was going to be $400 so soon. I switched from no contract TMO to 2 year VZW contract with a Toro and so far have been very disappointed. Seems like i as soon as i got it AOSP was dropped for it.... Hopefully someone Google/Samsung etc can get VZW on the ball!
I bought a Galaxy Nexus the day it went up on the Play store. Received it, and already got my first OS update. Previous phone was an HTC that came with HTC Sense -- never again!
I'm just glad we have an awesome dev community. Been running 4.0.4 within 24 hrs of release. It really wouldn't feel like a flagship phone without them, so I appreciate Google keeping it open. Just wish you guys let Moto build them. It's amazing that a few guys can do overnight what lg companies can't do in 5 months. Plus they add new mind blowing features.

And, please don't get on the let's see how thin we can make it bandwagon. The size is perfect on the gnex. The razr is too thin and not heavy enough to feel solid in the hand. We just need a longer lasting battery.
+Jean-Baptiste Queru +Matias Duarte why does it take Google to push an update to unlocked devices - I.e. ones that do not require carrier testing? Specifically, I have yakju build Galaxy Nexus and it take roughly 5 weeks for the update to pop up on my device! Just wondering why it takes that long.... compare that to apple they release an update that everyone can access at the same time and surely there are more iPhones around than Galaxy Nexus out there
Could you explain the update situation with the Xoom for Verizon. It was the original Xoom (Wi-Fi only wasn't even available until much later) and was touted by Google as the flagship device for Honeycomb. Yet no ICS update for it yet.

And according to Engadget, Verizon is claiming that the Xoom 4G/3G's update is being handled directly by Google.

I say heck with verizon, let google release the update without getting a pr omission or approval, beside Android have a big community of developer's and tester's at hand to report any issues!
+Jean-Baptiste Queru It seems somewhat inexplicable that the Samsung tab 10.1 from GIO has no ICS No carrier involvement..So presumably it is mostly in Google's hands...
How about you guys allow Nexus users to download and install update directly from you like Apple does. Verizon has no say when Apple pushes out a update for iOS.
Please, can you tell me if my galaxy note from Vodafone Portugal is getting android 4.0, please...???
That's the part that pisses me off knowing I shelled out $750 to import a galaxy nexus with the main reason to get timely updates and I'm still not getting updates....to get updates not only do I have to get a unlocked nexus but I gotta hope and pray I get the right one??? That's sum BS and makes me wonder what's the point especially when google uses that as there main selling point for the nexus when in actuality if you don't have the yakju one its a lie smfh....so guess my piece of crap rebooting every 10 min stuck on 4.0.2 yakjuzs galaxy nexus isn't a "real" nexus???
+Gerrell Blake well apparently "nexus" is now nothing but a marketing tool and does not indicate anything about how a device receives updates. Wish I had known that before I bought mine.
How long before the American carriers, mainly T-Mobile USA, offers ICS for the GS2? The phone has bugs. I don't see how the rumored Galaxy Note, has ICS pre-installed, but we can't get a timeframe on the ICS update for our Galaxy S2.

Also, why can't the flagship devices, such as the future "nexus" devices have expandable memory. Offering 16GB for the Nexus S, and the Galaxy Nexus HSPA+ isn't good. Why does the Sprint and Verizon models have 32GB?
I think that you're wrong. But that's irrelevant, because there are ways to get the latest and greatest Android-version without waiting for Carriers or vendors. Therefore, Android's openess makes up for the epic fails of vendors like Sony, Samsung and of course the carriers.
"The part that blows my mind is that some variants of the Google-engineered flagship devices still haven't received Ice Cream Sandwich (or are stuck with older versions of Ice Cream Sandwich) because of delays introduced by operator approvals." - Everyone seems more than happy to go along with this assessment and condemnation of the carriers, forgetting one crucial factor: that it is the carriers' support functions that have to pick up the pieces after an update goes wrong. While they are acting as Tier 1/2 support for the devices, they have every right to ensure that an update does not cause performance issues for their customers, logistical nightmares for their support personnel and ongoing contractual bushfires when they are held accountable by their customers for the failure to perform.
Do you have any input or comments on the MHL standard? The limit of 500ma is back breaking on the gnex. Have you ever watched a movie on your tv or used the gnex as a desktop? The battery charges at 500ma. Turn on bluetooth keyboard or mouse, wifi, netflix, and you draw way more than the 500ma charge rate. Since the screen doesn't dim or shut off in MHL, this only adds to the battery discharge. A XDA member released a fast charge mod which tells the gnex to AC charge in MHL mode.

MHL president said 500ma is the minimum NOT the max charge rate. So as long as the voltage doesn't drop the phone will draw max amperage.

This would be a software level change? Why does the gnex report and limit charging to USB (500ma) when in MHL mode?
+Jean-Baptiste Queru Is Verizon the sole reason us Verizon Galaxy Nexus owners haven't seen any bug fixes? I'm sure you're aware of the signal issues and the one-way audio bug. If you're not I can provide the information for you.
+Christopher Cote

Your MHL adapter goes into the USB connector right? USB devices identify the amount of power they can supply by presenting an impedance on the USB data lines. If your adapter presents itself as a 500 mA device, thats all you can safely draw from it.
+Aaron Mendez Me too!! But they know that so they will do whatever it takes to sell the new phone cuz that's there main concern so if they gotta lie to do that then they will and I've been known that about the carriers and manufactors but for sum strange reason I thought getting a Google phone it'd be different....if my unlocked nexus isn't being controlled by google then quit lying and calling it a google phone because its no different then me owning a GSII in fact the unlocked GSII are getting updates before my "Google experience" phone wtf is that???
Well we ever get a fix for the poor signal quality on the lte gnex? Even on 4.0.4 radios I rarely get better than 100 dBm.
Google MUST make faster deployment of new Android builds & put the pressure on OEM's to deploy just as quickly before this becomes something you competitors seize upon. I'm shocked that Microsoft & Apple have not seized upon this weakness in Android. If you don't think customer's care? Just go look at the Sprint forum just on people really upset at the very lengthy 116 day delivery of Android 4.0 to the Nexus S. I'm not saying Microsoft is any better but they know it is an issue too. But Apple here can say, one day instant deployment & in a week, everyone has it. Apple will also say, 3 different generations of handsets get some kind of update where with Android, you're lucky if your handset see's 2 major OS updates. 5 months is completely UN-acceptable & it should be no more than 30 days MAX. If necessary, you should have teams working 24/7 in 3 different shifts to insure that timely delivery of updates is a priority.
How great the world would be if Google say buy T-Mobile (no more headaches....that of course is only a dream.
It's really frustrating to find out after the fact that the Verizon Galaxy Nexus is not directly supported by Google. The current OS and radio ROMs have some serious bugs, and that owners have had to put up with them for five months and counting is shameful. Despite Verizon's superior coverage and performance in my area, I would have seriously considered switching carriers if I had known that the Verizon Nexus depended on Verizon for anything other than cellular service. Why can't Google do whatever Apple is doing to wrest more control of its devices from the carriers?
+Jean-Baptiste Queru Why was the Nexus S GSM update from 4.0.2 -> 4.0.4 delayed by around 4 months? There were problems galore in the 4.0.2 (laggy browser, power usage bugs, a massively laggy dialer..which exists in 4.0.4 even till now and several multitouch issues during an incoming call) These bugs made the phone pretty much of a major pain to use. I am nearly to throw away my Nexus S..even rooting and installing CM9, AOKP, Oxygen or BB ROMs didn't help
Because if I could do it, I would. I don't have the cash or a group of coders. This attitude of we can't do it is completely counterproductive. Do you think Microsoft PR, Apple PR, or consumers are going to understand? Heck no! Consumers simply want it done. Consumers & developers are sick of the excuses. It is the lack of an aggressive ecosystem to make it happen that is going to hurt the ecosystem in the long term. So instead of the gotcha post, brainstorming solutions would be a more logical response.
I don't think that the discussion is on-topic or even productive any more, so I'm going to close comments. Thanks for your interest!