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Thoughts on Android.

In June Google released the Jellybean OS for the Android phone.  At that time it was my understanding that an update for the Google Nexus phone was "coming soon."  But here it is now September and no upgrade in sight from +Verizon Wireless.

I suppose this has been frustrating to me most of all because for the past few months (ever since the last Android update on the phone) my photos gallery on my phone has been borked.  I've talked with folks at Google about that problem who have told me that they've identified what is borking my photos and that a fix has been put in place for the next update.  But will that update ever come?  Google can't tell me when it will be here.

This is my second Android phone.  My first was frankly a miserable experience.  I was confused by all the Galaxy names for different phones and instead of buying the Nexus I bought some other lame version of Galaxy from TMobile.  It came with Eclair on it even though Froyo was out and TMobile wouldn't update it.  In fact Samsung and TMobile had to be sued in court just to get the update from Eclair to Froyo.  Finally when TMobile was forced to update the phone they provided a software download that could only be used with a Windows PC that was a total PITA to get done.  The battery life especially on that phone was awful.  Not an experience you'd expect for paying over $400.  I don't think that phone ever did even get Gingerbread.

My mistake, I was told by those in the know about mobile phones, was that I didn't buy the Google Phone.  The Nexus.  Don't ever buy all those other crappy android phones people told me.  If you want to get updates you simply must go with the Google phone.  It's the same one they give to all their employees. If it does not say Nexus, do NOT buy it. This phone doesn't have all the crapware that the phone companies force down your throat and so it gets updates almost immediately.  

But here it is Sept and the jellybean update from June is nowhere in sight.  One thing that could make it better would be at least if Verizon would say, ok, ok, we know people want this, it's coming by September 30th.  At least then you wouldn't be frustrated thinking it never may come (like on my last Android phone) or perhaps it will be here in June 2014 with a weird Windows only update process.

The other thing that bothers me about the my Nexus phone is that I can't use Google Wallet on it.  It's odd to me that I can't use a Google product on the Google phone.  I know that Verizon is to blame for this, but I wonder if more couldn't be done to force their hand on these sorts of issues.  Why isn't it possible for Google to say to the carriers, hey, if you want this Google phone you have to agree to let all Google products on it.  Is it simply that no one would agree to this?

I know that I can root my phone and do all of these fancy things with it.  People tell me that all the time.  I tried to root my last Android phone and it wouldn't root.  It got borked and got stuck on weird screens with lots of flashing letters and numbers.  I'm just not technically inclined enough to feel comfortable going through all the rooting stuff.  I'm not a phone developer and I just want it to work with a normal update.

The iPhone 5 is coming out in a few weeks apparently.  I do like my Android phone but it makes me wonder if it's not time to switch back to Apple.  At least with Apple you know when a new update will be out and it's so easy to get it.  How is it that Apple can get all of their carriers to push out the update the day it is released but Google cannot get them to push out updates ever?  Is it simply that Apple has more negotiating power with the carriers?

Whatever the case, it seems like a positive customer experience should be a priority for both the carriers and Google.  Not being able to use your photo gallery on your phone is not a positive experience for a photographer.  Neither is wondering if it will be months before you ever will be able to.

I don't know a lot about how the mobile phone business works.  I've probably gotten a whole lot of things wrong in my write up on my experience with Android so far.  Mostly I just want to understand more how the process works.  I do consider myself an early adopter but not technologically inclined enough yet to do the whole rooting thing.  Could/should I be doing something else to try and improve my Android experience?  Will Verizon actually release a jellybean update?  And why haven't they already and why the need to be so mysterious on if/when a release will ever come?
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114 comments
 
Well... my mobile provider didn't released the 2.2 as promised to my Optimus Boston aka Commtiva Z71, but I got the 2.3, that's the beauty of Android. :)
 
Right there with you man. It certainly takes a bit more pain and angst to remain an Android/Nexus fan. 
I have no clue why Google isn't more aggressive in all their patent wars also... They let the carriers boss them around, when certainly it doesn't need to be that way. 
 
Companies are probably never going to jump on the latest updates as they release. Many want to put their own spin on the system, as in, their own theme, etc., which probably takes time. I'm guessing that is it?
 
It's not an Android or Nexus issue, it's a Verizon issue.  I am using a Nexus as and I have had Jellybean since about a week after it's release.  I am a Canadian and using the Telus carrier for my phone.  If you are willing, or able, can you change carriers?
 
+Roshan John Google has the policy of open software and Internet... Google wan't to give us a free web world, on the other hand, Apple only wants to make profit no matter what!
 
I don't live in USA, but from what I've read here I can say that +Verizon Wireless sucks. iPhone 5 sounds like a good choice for the next phone. At least updates will come in time and you won't support Samsung with your money. Not that I don't like Android, it's a great OS, I'm using it myself, but I hate Samsung. I really hope we will see Sony Nexus someday. :)
 
Man, repeating same error twice... as I did.
You didn't bought Nexus. You bought Verizon Nexus, perhaps because it was cheaper. That's totally different thing and yes, Google should be more clear about it. I believe that's all for political reasons, Google need to be okay with telco industry.
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The unlocked Nexus got it ages ago. Ditch Verizon, or accept that they are in control.
 
Sorry reading about your experience +Thomas Hawk. You have every right to be mad, and Google is as much to blame as verizon. They allowed this phone to be the bastard child of Verizon. If you ever buy another Pure Google phone, make sure you get it form the +Google Play store directly. You pay more upfront, but its your phone, its not ties to a phone company and Google is responsible. Not Google/Verizon. 
 
Apple gets to manage their updates, but they do feature fragmentation.  While you may get upgraded to the latest version number, you won't get all the new features (re:  Siri on iphone 4).  

The Verizon Galaxy Nexus isn't really a nexus.....they refuse to let Google directly update the phone.  They claim that the LTE drivers are proprietary and insist on doing their own extensive testing.

It's a tough choice to make and your going to make trade offs no matter what you do.

I'm seriously considering a move to a Nexus device on a Tmobile pre paid plan.  Good luck! 
 
If you have a Nexus device there's no excuse for not rooting your phone. I have a Verizon Galaxy Nexus and I've been running a JB rom for months.
 
+Om Pandey I don't think I'm ready to try a Windows phone.  This is part of where I think Apple gets a lot of things right.  I haven't used a Microsoft product (except my PC at work and an XBox at home) in years.  Even though my problems with Windows PCs (I bought the first Windows Media Center PC ever made) happened YEARS ago, ever since switching to Macs I've not wanted to touch anything that has Microsoft associated with it.  The thing about Apple devices is that they "just work."  Whatever else people may say about Apple, they seem to work better than anything else out there.

Because Microsoft got my user experience so terribly wrong almost a decade ago.  Still to this day I don't want to touch anything that says Microsoft anywhere on it.  If the XBox or my work PC turned out to be an amazing experience I might consider it, but they are not.  I still have to log into my XBox Live account all the time which is a PITA when all you want to do is watch Breaking Bad that you've already paid for.  I've been told that I have to log in all the time because I have 2 Xboxes in the house and most people don't use 2 Xboxes.  

I simply have no confidence in the Microsoft user experience to make a decision as important as switching my phone.  

Plus when you have a Microsoft phone everybody will laugh at you (just joking about that last part).  ;)
 
2.3 is from 2010…

I have a Samsung SIII, top of the line, three months old, and still not sure it can or will be upgraded to 4.1… And what will happen with 4.2, 4.5 and 5.0?

Like buying a top-of-the-line PC this summer only to find out that it might not be possible to upgrade to Windows 8. Or buying other cheaper PCs with Vista and even XP pre-installed.
 
Well put. And quite frankly, you shouldn't have to know how the mobile phone industry works. Apple has figured out how to deliver a consistent software update experience to their users, so it is possible. Google can't be held responsible for every flavor of Android out there either - but they can and should be held responsible for the Nexus experience, which has all but lost any sort of meaning or value.

Having said that, I have rooted my Galaxy Nexus and installed Jelly Bean & it's amazing. Just sad that most people won't get JB until next year, and by then they'll still be behind the curve.

Although it's been a slooooow curve, it does seem as if more updates are coming out more frequently for more newer phones. Google been working on this problem (see: http://www.theverge.com/2012/6/27/3120980/google-announces-platform-development-kit), so I still hold out hope for the future. 

But for now, even as a rabid Android fanboy, all I can say is that it sucks.
 
The Verizon variant of the Nexus doesn't allow us to change the phone really. It's got an LTE radio, that no other carrier can use. And +Fábio Pereira, it's nice that Google wants to give us a free web world, just noting that the user experience lags... and people are willing to pay for an up to date user experience. 
 
+Claes Magnusson I bought my Boston aka Commtiva Z71 when it had 2.1, they had a recent update from 1.6... the 2.2 never came out, I only installed 2.3 a few months ago! Should I blame Google? Of course not, the 2.3 OS already existed, my mobile provider is the one to blame!
 
I've never owned a Samsung. But, of the big names, they certainly seem to be the worst in terms of updates. Updates seem to never happen on the schedule you'd like anyway. But, Samsung is just slower than anyone. And, it's probably complicated because they make so many models of phones.

As to why Google doesn't exert more control over the carriers than Apple does...I think that largely is due to Google's approach of allowing freedom to choose.
 
+Verizon Wireless are a bunch of Nazis. That's all there is to it. ;)

But I agree 100%. Google should push the carriers (Verizon) a little more aggressively when it comes to things like this.
 
+Fábio Pereira I get that but that just feels like feel good BS to me.  the bottom line is I just want my phone to work and I care a little less about the fact that Apple "just wants to make profit."  If they make the best product they deserve the profit I'd say.
 
I had a similar experience and it was very frustrating. I follow tech pretty closely so seeing all the updated OS versions but not being able to get them without performing brain surgery on my phone really made for a bad experience. 
 
+Thomas Hawk very interesting experience. I don't know Android very well, I envy their large screens and the possibility to tweak them without having to "jailbreak" them.

But when I read your post, I feel that rooting is almost like jailbreaking my device. It's very time consuming, sometimes a bit hard to understand and doesn't always work.

I will get the iPhone 5 no matter how great it is because I expect the camera to be awesome and I always need a camera when I don't carry my Canon with me. By the way +Thomas Hawk  do you take pictures with your phone?

And I hope to get a much better screen. Anyway, developers still favor iOS for now so I tend to follow developers' direction.

Good luck with your phone and keep us updated on your next purchase, whether it's an iPhone 5 or a Nexus
 
This is the reason I prefer the iPhone. You get your updates through Apple and not through your carrier. So, they are immediate.

AT&T takes forever to release Android updates. They like to add their branded bloatware and give release dates that they never make. They haven't even released Ice Cream Sandwich yet. It took more than a year to get the Gingerbread update.

If you want timely updates for Android, the only choice is to root your phone or to buy a new phone with each update.
 
+Thomas Hawk actually... they don't do better products, and believe me when I say... my 2.3 Android can do much more things than iPhone 4s. ;)

If you don't get the new update the one to blame is Verizon, Google did their homework. :)
 
I think part of the problem (if not the entire problem) with getting Android updates rolled out (vs. the way Apple does it) is there are SO MANY phones that need it, and they all need a version of it that works with their hardware, is tested, etc. This is on the hardware manufacturers. Then, you add in all the carrier-specific stuff...on the carriers, obviously....and it's yet another layer.

It's still worth it to me. I love my One S, it's still on ICS and it's got HTC Sense, but I actually like that, and I'm sure it will get Jellybean at some point.
 
+Nathaniel Graham yes, that's what people told me with my last Android phone.  that it was my fault for not rooting it.  But when I tried to root it it wouldn't root.  It errored out.  I spent a ton of time trying to root it and never could get it done.  With the iPhone if I have a problem I can set an appt for free at the Genius Bar, walk into a store and have someone who knows more about phones than I do look at something at fix it.

With Android I don't.  Some people tried to help me with the rooting thing online but I never could get it to work.  Do I really want to go through that process again?

Should I really have to?
 
+Thomas Hawk that's weird... to root my phone I only had to use Z4Root, pressed the button to permanent root and voilá, it didn't changed anything and my phone was rooted!

And there are other steps if you want to make them, the best part is that you get ton's of tutorials on the web explaining them. :)
 
Didn't read the whole post but I'm having a horrible experience with the Samsung Galaxy S Epic 4g. Battery life is horrid, restarts randomly, restarts while talking on the phone, etc. I still has gingerbread on it. I'm sick of all the android phones on the market and I will be switching to either the new Lumia or the iPhone 5 when it comes out. I've had enough with the android OS and its plethora of hardware.

People tell me to put a ROM on it but why?! I shouldn't have to fix/upgrade my own phone. That's the company's job to keep the consumer happy. That's why I know I'll be happy with an iPhone.
 
It's the sad truth that the reason you are experiencing this pain is because you bought a subsidised phone from a carrier. With android the only way you can be sure to get the latest updates is to buy your phone outright, not rent it from Verizon.

You must also realize though that 90% of consumers don't have any idea what 'Jelly Bean' is, nor so they care about getting the latest update. I know my wife can't stand it when her phone updates, even when her apps update. Carriers know this and that's all that they care about. Why bother investing in updates when most people don't care.

You want to be an early adopter, then cough up the money and buy your phone. It's that simple.
 
+Thomas Hawk - Actually Verizon is already testing JB for the Galaxy Nexus. As for rooting it, I can easily help you out with that with several "One Click" methods that take all the pain out of the process. Either way, I imagine we are actually very close to Verizon releasing the GB update. Let me know you want some help :)
 
In order to cut your carrier out of the experience (at least in the U.S.), you have to go with an unlocked phone supported directly by the handset maker, or Google. This is why I went with the original Nexus One in January of 2010 and never looked back. I not only get the latest updates -- now on my Galaxy Nexus -- immediately, but I can do what I want with the phone.

Plus I save money by going with a month to month MVNO, which I can switch to another at any time if a lower price hits. I pay $45 a month for unlimited talk/text/2 GB of mobile broadband, which is plenty for me. Pure Nexus is the way to go IMO.
 
Surely the problem lies with the carrier and not the phone? I got an OTA update to Jelly Bean for my Galaxy Nexus about a week after it was launched, and I'm in Barbados. I do agree that more should be done to force their hand though.
 
+M Bybee I don't get what you mean by "ditch Verizon" and get an unlocked phone.  I bought the phone from Verizon because I thought that was the best place to get it. People said they had the best network. I even waited in line on the first day it was available.  As far as I know that was the first place you could buy the Nexus.

Don't you have to have a carrier?  Are you saying that I could have purchased an unlocked phone and then taken it to Verizon to activate it and that this phone would have the jellybean update on it today?
 
+Thomas Hawk sorry to hear about your bad experience. I had the Google NexusOne and I was lucky to receive the updates for the new OS first.  I almost bought the Galaxy Nexus when it came out on Verizon and I decided to hold off because of their 4G pricing plans.  In April I picked up the Galaxy Nexus GSM phone off contract, slipped in my SIM card and I was good to go.

So far, I am very pleased with the experience.  Now that I am off contract, I will never go back.  I pay $64/mo for unlimited calling with the first 2GB at 4G and then throttled.  I like that the wifi tethering is no additional cost.

I can also say that I received my OS update shortly after the Google IO conference.  The Galaxy Nexus GSM phone had been the true Nexus device.  The Verizon version of the Galaxy Nexus has been a disappointment to many people in the Android community.  It seems that the difficult policies of Verizon have outweighed the freedom of the Nexus.
 
+Thomas Hawk it may have the best network and prices, but don't buy a phone atatched to them, buy a unlocked phone and them put the SIM card from Verizon in it. :)
 
Verizon is a great company, I know because I work there, secondly, I have an android and all I can say Thomas is...patience is key...we will deliver exactly what you need just as soon as we can from the manufacturer...I would advise like everything else>for security reasons and publicity, check out verizonwireless.com/support and all of your questions are answered right there-just click learn my device and what type it is, as soon as it is available the update will be pushed to your phone, and we have to do it in increments because of the amount of inventory of the products out there and the network bandwidth capacity, lots of great support regarding your phone is on that site and also community forums, tips, tricks, etc., we do appreciate your patience and I am a big fan of the user experience with personalizing your android phone vs the limited iphone although I think the iphone is an AMAZING product also depending on individual NEEDS and LIKES:):):) Thanks for supporting Verizon Wireless:)
 
+Thomas Hawk - I think you nailed it when you said that if you want timely updates, you need to go with a true Google experience phone. Unfortunately for you, that would be the GSM Galaxy Nexus which works on TMo and AT&T. The CDMA version (Sprint and Verizon) aren't fully supported by Google's out of the box updates. They require the carrier to come through with updates (horrible, as I am currently experiencing this with my One S on TMobile). Someone might have a better tech explanation but I've read articles saying it has something to do with the CDMA specification being more locked down whereas GSM is a globally-accepted standard that calls for compatibility with unlocked devices from other carriers in their standard. The Sprint version is actually getting Jelly Bean soon. Not sure about Verizon though. Sounds like they're last.
 
+Thomas Hawk  i'm not in this Android-iPhone war.. and i love technology like Hell ! but for my every minute using i need working machine - even for my customers calls or SMSs from monitoring machines about Server's alerts or just to be updated with mail and Twitter all the time.  I'm not interesting in hacks-roots-jailbreaks cos i have no time for all this bla-bla installs and recovers.. looks like endless loop of "nothing" - i only need one solid working phone !
it why i still with iPhone4 
 
It's certainly ridiculous that Verizon is so late in releasing updates. They don't realize or don't care how much this hurts their image and potentially their bottom line if enough people switch carriers. Unfortunately the rest of the cellular industry in the US isn't much better.

Though it may not help much for this particular update, I for one would be happy to show you how to root, backup, and install a ROM on your Galaxy Nexus. It doesn't require a ton of technical know-how and its one of the most significant capabilities of a Nexus device. The wide selection of ROMs, mods, and 3rd party software patches for Nexus devices put it firmly ahead of the iPhone. I think the Dev community as a whole is still in a relatively early stage of design and more mainstream consumer friendly tools will soon show up to make those processes even easier and more accessible to less technical users.

The next time you're in Houston, feel free to send me a message and we can fix up your phone and get Google Wallet working. Maybe a photowalk while we're at it.
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+Thomas Hawk you can buy it from Google directly and use any GSM plan like TMob or ATT. That's what I did when I got tired of the carriers controlling my mobile.
Being free to go pay as you go, switch Sims when traveling, and to have control of your mobile far out weighed the extra cost up front.

With TMob you still get high speed, can't speak to ATT.
 
The Galaxy Nexus is easier to root than most other phones and it also has arguably the best development community.  Rooting can be intimidating, but the GNex is so widely adopted by Android developers that the process is well documented (or YouTube'd) and well supported.  I've had JellyBean on my GNex since the morning following it's announcement and it runs great (with Google Wallet if you choose).  After rooting you'll be able to use to for WiFi tether, to connect USB storage, to modify the look and feel of the OS... you won't regret at least trying out a rooted GNex with a custom ROM.
 
The carriers don't control the update. Apple pushes it through itunes. Android is open source, and as such the carriers are free to modify it before sending it out. If Jelly Bean is available for your nexus phone, but just not on Verizon, they're the ones holding it back. It means google has made the port, but verizon wants to fck around with it. With Apple, they control the updates through their own software, not the carriers. But then apple also controls what music and movies are on your phone, where you buy from, and what you can do with your phone. The companies ego and control have made me turn my back on apple. Now, for your situation, I'd say look to a new provider if Verizon is being that big of a PITA. Mind you, seems like all of the providers there have their issues...
 
+Kevin Tofel maybe that was my mistake.  It's tough learning the mobile phone business.  So my mistake wasn't buying a Nexus, it was buying a Nexus from Verizon.  I totally would have paid more for the phone in a heartbeat if I knew there was a difference.  

Once you buy this phone directly from Google then can you just walk into any carrier to have it activated?

+Colby Brown if Verizon's release is imminent then why don't they just say "ok everybody, it will be out by Sept. 30."  Everyone said that Froyo was imminent on my last Android phone but then months and months and months and months and finally lawsuits came and it got done.

I'm not quite sure I'm ready to try the rooting thing just yet.  This is what happened with my last android phone.  Everybody kept saying over and over root it, root it, root it.  And then that was a big waste of time and in the end I had to work to get my phone back to the state it was before I tried the process.
 
It's not a google problem, I would say, it's a problem of the power and influence of the carriers in the US. Everyone else with a Nexus in the world has the update since several weeks...
 
+Thomas Hawk, let me begin by saying that I consider myself an Android "fanboy". I love the OS, love the devices I own that run it, and would recommend Android phones/tablets over iPhones/iPads anyday... normally.

In your case (judging from the comments above), it sounds like the new iPhone might be a wise choice for you. Simply put, to get the most out of the Android experience, one must have the desire to "tinker" a little bit. With the iPhone, the way things work "right out of the box" are pretty much what the average user is looking for. This is by no means a slight on you... You like things to work, you don't have a desire to optimize or customize. It's no different than one car owner who just wants to drive versus the other who wants to beef up the engine, lower the suspension, get a custom paint job, etc. We all have our own purpose in mind when purchasing a product, and we should choose what best fits that purpose instead of choosing by name or brand-loyalty alone.
 
Well, rooting the Verizon Nexus will allow you to install Jelly Bean via AOKP, even though the Verizon update hasn't been released yet. It was disappointing that Verizon slipped changes into the Nexus like they did, because that really influenced my decision to move away from them to another carrier that will let me use an unlocked version.

Unfortunately, Google's dealing with the same situation that Apple initially dealt with when they approached Verizon about a flagship phone, and because there are so many other options for Verizon to go with, there's a lot less negotiating power. One of the strengths of Android is also its weakness.
 
Here's how I did it in Australia. I bought the unlocked GSM nexus, stuck my Sim card in and I'm good to go. I pay my phone company $20/mth for $500 calls and 1.5gb data and I'm free to change whenever I like. (No contract) When I travel os, I just get a prepaid sim and stick that in. That is how an unlocked phone works, it's a beautiful thing but surprisingly people still choose to buy carrier subsidized phones.
 
+Thomas Hawk - That is because Verizon is not very good with communication on this stuff. They never announce an update until it is actually ready, atleast publicly. It is coming though and I have seen the leaked files start to show up online. As for rooting it, that is certainly your choice. It is an easy process that is harmless, but certainly not for everyone. Either way, I do enough consulting with the Android team as well always have my ear to the ground with the dev community with Android, so if you have questions in the future...like I said, just let me know.
 
+Thomas Hawk don't think of it as your mistake; think of it as a broken system in the U.S. Carriers in most other countries don't have this kind of control. ;)

The GSM Galaxy Nexus is now $349 direct from Google -- I paid $575 to have one shipped from the UK last October and don't regret one penny of the purchase. It works on either T-Mobile or AT&T's network as the radio chips support both carriers for 3G/4G (but not LTE). I still get 10 Mbps downloads on mine; plenty fast.

The "phone" itself doesn't get activated. It comes ready to use. You simply pop in a SIM card that has been activated with service. Very different from VZ/Sprint. You can get the SIM / plan from either T-Mo or AT&T, but I recommend going with someone who resells their services. Here's why:

http://gigaom.com/mobile/straight-talk-it-could-let-you-dump-att-or-t-mobile/

Hope that helps a little, but happy to keep the conversation flowing. 
 
+Thomas Hawk Just to expand on what +M Bybee mentioned, above - earlier this year, I purchased an unlocked GSM Nexus directly from Google for $350 and have it activated on a T-Mobile SIM. I pay $30/month for 100 minutes plus 5GB/month with no contract.

Prior to making the switch, I looked back over my Sprint account (for which I was paying $86.15/month) to see what my usage pattern was - I was using about 80-90 minutes a month and a few GB of data, so that particular T-Mobile plan works very well for my needs.  They (and a couple of other prepaid carriers) do have other options, however.

I've been much happier with the phone, service is better/faster than it was with Sprint (I spend 85% of my time in Philadelphia/South Jersey area, where T-Mobile service is good), and I'm paying $60 less per month with no contract and a phone that will get immediate Android updates.  No way would I go back to a carrier-subsidized phone on contract.  I'd encourage you to see what other options you might have.
 
I run Jelly Bean and Google Wallet on my Galaxy Nexus +Thomas Hawk. But you're right I had to root it first (which is very easy for the Nexus line). For Wallet you don't need to be rooted, it only takes a few clicks in the browser to get it installed.

I understand that Verizon is already testing the JB update on the Nexus. It'll be out shortly. Unfortunately they always tend to be slow with rolling those updates out. Btw, Sprint will roll out the JB update for the Nexus this week.

As for the iPhone 5: It won't have NFC as far as I know. So there's no Wallet application either.
 
The Nexus line is easily rootable with Wug's Nexus Toolkit. Once click options for backup, root, restore, etc. 
 
I recommend having a geeky friend, someone you trust to root your phone for you. That person should also follow up with you when updates come out so that you remain current.

In the Android world the only way of staying ahead of the game, the only way of taking advantage of the true experience is to root.
 
You should choose your next phone based on build quality and the features it has at the time, not some vague time line about what it might get in the future. Oh, and don't chain yourself with a contract.
 
I have a Verizon nexus, and im running jelly bean. And the update is in sight, since we do know that the developer's version is out and under testing.
 
here is the basic problem: google makes its money from ads, not the OS, so they really don't care if you get an update.  your carrier would probably rather see you buy a new phone so they can lock you into a plan for two more years.  i keep hearing android advocates talking about how you can "easily" go out on the web and get the update yourself, but i think most people have a different definition of easy than the bulk of the population.  easy is having the update happen automatically when it becomes available, not waiting to see if your carrier will ever push it to you.
 
Apple has complete control of the hardware and the OS, so making sure everything is compatible is relatively easy.  Even with that, Apple doesn't always allow OS upgrades on very old hardware.

With Android devices, there are many variations of hardware, processor, screen size, camera etc. so testing compatibility with all the various combinations is much more difficult.  And I believe they rely on the carriers to determine compatibility and work out the problems.
 
Verizon definitely appears to be the hold up on this. It's unfortunate that you are experiencing the issues you are. I used iPhones for many years and was very happy with them but always felt held back because Apple wants to control your experience. That's fine but it's not for me. I love Android but maybe you would be better off with an iPhone 5. If you just want a phone and don't want to tweak it, iOS is a great platform. And the camera in the 4s is what I miss most about not having an iPhone :)
 
btw, the nexus i have, has been running jelly bean for a while now. the phone isn't rooted. there was an OTA update from google.
 
Sorry but anyone who has been paying attention for the past few years knows to avoid +Verizon Wireless if you want timely updates.  Like many others I was hopeful that the Galaxy Nexus being released on VZW would be a  change from their typical M.O. but we found out almost immediately that wasn't the case.  On the bright side at least the Galaxy Nexus on VZW gets it's updates sooner than other phones on VZW.

The mantra used to be that if you want fast updates "only consider a Nexus device", now it's been amended to  "only consider a GSM Nexus device.

Maybe once Verizon sunsets their intentionally obscure CDMA network and releases LTE only devices things will be different but I'm not holding my breath (especially since that's several years in the future)
 
I'd dump +Verizon Wireless in a heartbeat, but they have the best phone reception in this area. I really do wish I'd just plumped for the Nexus straight from Google, though. VW are just being dicks about it.
 
Phones with operator branding are really to be avoided as OS updates come late (or never), and the phone is full with apps which try to lock you into the operator's portals or value streams. Basically things you do not need.
I know it is cumbersome and not at all easy, but I can only recommend to root the phone and install one of the custom Android versions. I did that (with the help of a good friend) and bought a fresh Samsung Galaxy N7000, rooted it and put CyanogenMod 9 on it. Plus the Google Apps. That works fine, has all the features I need and none of those I do not need. http://www.xda-developers.com/android/root-and-recovery-for-the-verizon-samsung-galaxy-s-iii/ may be helpful for those who want to give it a try and escape Verizon.
 
 I feel your pain +Thomas Hawk. I am in the same predicament. No jelly bean update for my verizon Galaxy Nexus yet!   I am so frustrated by +Verizon Wireless. 
 
I'm a huge Android fan (and don't own anything Apple), but Apple does have it right in many respects. When they have an update, everyone gets it. When you have problems with the software, you can go into an Apple store.  With Google, you have to search chatboards and less than helpful "Help" documents online.  

Also, I shouldn't have to root my phone (voiding warranties and risking screwing it up) just to have it work the way it should.  Yes, for people that want to root, go ahead, that's the beauty of Android (customization and freedom). But I should be able to still get updates on a $600 phone in a timely manner. I had the Bionic (which I gave to my fiance when I got the S3) which is still on GB - two OS' behind. For the love of God, Jelly Bean has been out for months now and we're still talking about when and whether high end phones will be updated to ICS!  That is ridiculous.  

I don't fault Google for this, other than their unwillingness to pressure the carriers.  When the iPhone comes out with iWallet, you can be sure that Verizon won't be able to block it.  But Google Wallet?  Google just rolls over.  I've been on Verizon since the beginning, but only recently (after going to Android phones from my Blackberry) do I realize how slow their updates are.  They have great coverage in the DC area, but it is not worth it to have to deal with them on updates.  Unfortunately now I have another 2 year contract to get through (or at least until it's worth it to break the contract and go AT&T).
 
"The iPhone 5 is coming out in a few weeks apparently."
Apparently you aren't keeping yourself up to date on tech news +Thomas Hawk. September 12th it's coming out. 
 
+tyler vanblargan I thought the announcement was Sept 12 but that you'd still need to wait a few weeks to buy one.
 
I was just going through this exact same situation myself. I used to be a Android/Google fanboy. But what's the point of coming out with a new Android update if the majority of the users don't get them. This is and always will be my biggest issue with Android. The combination of of Google's seemingly apathetic approach to the issue and the iPhone 5 release coming  up soon, kind of make me feel like jumping ship and joining the "other side."
 
I am on Verizon on my company phone (an HTC Rezound) so I don't root it, and seriously, I just got the Ice Cream Sandwich update on it less than a month ago. I almost switched to the iPhone 4S, but I chose to wait. Sorry to hear you still have a borked gallery +Thomas Hawk...
 
+Luis López It's just as bad, waiting on updates for Wifi Tablets unless it's the Nexus7.
 
Wow. Sorry to read you've had such terrible experiences. Personally, I'll never go with the "i" anything; way too proprietary and not good customer relations from my own experiences. I have the Verizon Motorola Droid 2. I love my "palm top computer" with a phone app, as it seems to be more of a computer with everything I could ever want it to do and then it also rings occasionally with a phone call.  :)
I use Google+ to have my photos automatically backup and are instantly available to me any time, any where. The battery life has lasted me a full 16 hours of extremely heavy use before needing a little charge and it never takes long to charge it.
As for the updates, I get those regularly and it always prompts me as to whether I want to update automatically or should I do this manually on my own time. I have a Wiki setup for my photos so it tags where and when I took the pictures. It even lets me have the option for latitude/longitude if I choose.
The pictures are never a disappointment and the phone itself has been awesome! Loads of fun. This coming from someone who absolutely hates being electronically tethered.
I'll never purchase anything Apple/Mac related due to their customer service, phone hoops to jump through, inadequate paperwork, proprietary use/ hardware/ software. Plus, you pay more for the name, not the actual quality of the product.
Listening to sales reps isn't always the best idea either. Their job is to shove everyone in the direction the company wants their sales to go. Not necessarily in the direction of what's best for the customer.
For my own thoughts, I do my own research and ask tons of questions before I get a list together of what I want the product to do, how much I'm willing to pay, and whether I feel that company will treat me right if anything goes wrong with their product.
Sometimes you just get a lemon of a deal right from the get go, no matter what product you purchase or whom you purchase from.
I hope you find something you like and enjoy as much as I have.
Good luck to all in the future.
 
Wow lots of fluffy random in this thread. I got the European gsm nexus version after several posts for help here on plus. I did root with one click using Wug like other mentioned.... but my Canadian carrier got jelly bean no problem. This IS a Verizon issue... but none of that makes it better. I recommend before jumping ship to try the root here and get a custom ROM. I realize that didn't go well last time but sadly that phone was very old technology. Rooting will give you the power. ;) right now procedure from Verizon has the power.
 
+Thomas Hawk - your question to +Kevin Tofel on buying directly from Google and going anywhere --- the answer is not anywhere. The one sold by Google directly is the HSPA+ (GSM) version that works on T-Mobile and AT&T, but NOT on Sprint or Verizon. It will work with lots of carriers worldwide and probably other (smaller) US carriers that are GSM, but if you want to stay on Verizon (or be on Sprint), you do not have the option of a pure Google Galaxy Nexus. You would have to buy the carrier version (which is your current situation).
 
+Tannie Alwine I'm sure Verizon is a great company.  But, it's frustrating for users when to hear "be patient."  What does that mean?  When Nexus came out in June, "coming soon" to me meant that it should be here by now.  "Soon" is one of those words like "patience" that could mean anything.  It could mean 1 week, 2 weeks, 4 weeks, 2 months, 6 months, one year, etc.  I guess I don't understand why the secrecy behind the release.  

Even if Verizon could say something with a disclaimer I think it would be helpful.  Something like, we're shooting for the end of September with the disclaimer that we may not make it.  Instead we're left wondering if it is even coming. 

We were told to be patient with the Eclair to Froyo update from TMobile and it took over a year to get there and a court lawsuit.  

As great as you think Verizon is, I think it would be to their benefit to communicate a little bit more with their customers.
 
I made the mistake a couple of years ago and I ditched my iPhone for an HTC EVO (Android). Not only do you have to wait years for the apps that are already on iOS to come out for Android, but the OS updates take ages to release and if it's not a big name Android device you will never get the update. 99% of the app developers write for iOS. I want to have all my apps now, not a year from now when they finally decide to release an Android version. Also, as far as Windows phones you can expect them being in 3rd place behind the top two. Nobody is going to write for Windows. I would never get one of those if you want current apps and updates. I would seriously consider going back to the iPhone. I will never make that mistake again.
 
+Jeremy Cupp the thing with the apps... people still invest more in iOS apps than in Android because they still didn't realised that Android is the MOST used software in the WORLD!!!

Almost everyone that I know have Android phones, and iPhones not that much people! I think iOS still lives by is name too much. ;)
 
I've never had a problem finding apps for Android. And some of the best apps I have are alternatives to iOS apps that have turned out to be BETTER! The old 'Android doesn't get any good apps' or 'apps take forever to be released on Android' may have been correct in the beginning but things are much different now. Many big names are even releasing the Android version of their app before the iOS version.
 
The missing update for your phone +Thomas Hawk actually is Verizons fault, Google is not to blame. The problem is actually quite simple.

Android is open (at least that's the popular opinion), so every carrier can add any "value added" (cough) stuff they want. If an update for Android arrives they have to add that stuff again, which translates to delays.

iOS however is provided by Apple with a "don't mess around" policy. A carrier is not allowed to add anything, so updating iOS is a simple matter of downloading the newest version straight from Apples servers.

Addressing the question "which phone should I buy": The one that does what you need and/or want. There'll always be the die hard "Android!" or "iOS!" folks, but in the end a phone is a tool - and it should just work for you.

(Disclaimer: I'm an iPhone user. Because I use Macs. And they work quite well with each other.)
 
It took Instagram over a year to come out on Android. Flipboard, Camera+, Trigger Happy, Top Model Release, ect. That is just a few that aren't out on Android, but there are many more. I guess it depends on what apps you like, but I was highly annoyed having to wait for the apps I wanted. I agree it is getting better, but it's still not there especially with the OS updating problem. Most Android phones will never get ICS. 
 
It's not Google's fault but your carrier! Blame the carrier!

I usually get an open Europe phone. Updates are fast, no carrier block. But downside, no lte.
 
+Thomas Hawk

First, The Verizon Galaxy Nexus is only a Nexus in name and hardware. The fact is that Verizon has control of the updates. They decide when an update revision is good enough to release to the general public.

For a True Google experience you would have to buy a GSM Nexus, in other words one that will work on ATT's network.

All the GSM Nexus updated come straight from Google. And do not need carrier approval.

As for Google Wallet... You can side load, which involves downloading the Application also known as an .APK file and drop it on to your Storage partition on the phone. Once the .Apk file is on the phone you will need a file management app like Astro File Manager. You then have to navigate to the storage partition and select the .Apk file, long press, and click install when prompted.

I could go in to more detail but do not want to clog your stream.

The main reason Google Wallet is unavailable on the Verizon Galaxy Nexus is due to the fact that Verizon has plans for its own Near Field Communication Wallet app and so they have prevented the app from being officially downloaded to the phone via the market.

If you would like any help with your Nexus, anything at all please stop by
http://www.galaxynexusforum.com/

We have plenty of experienced members and staff to help you with just about any problem you could have.

*I do not get paid to promote Galaxy Nexus Forums. I am only a very enthusiastic member of the community.
 
+Robert Weiler I agree with that thinking.  My mistake was in thinking I was buying a "Google" phone with the Verizon Nexus.  I thought that's exactly what I was getting, the phone that the carrier can't/won't mess with.  It turns out I was mistaken.  The Google Nexus phone (if you buy it through Verizon) is no more the Google phone than any other Android phone that you buy from a carrier.  

Part of this confusion for me comes from the fact that I've heard a lot of people call this phone the Google phone and it even says "Google" on my screen when it boots up.  I thought Nexus meant Google.

In fact the real Google phone is only the one that you purchase directly from Google themselves.  I hadn't realized this and wish someone had explained that to me better at the time that I purchased the Nexus from Verizon.

While Google may not be to blame I think Google could do a little better job communicating to folks that they should avoid all android products, even their very own Google phone, when sold by a carrier.  

Two times now I've learned this the hard way and I've tried hard to figure out exactly what to do with each phone I buy.  I wish it wasn't this confusing.

As it stands I'm locked into another year with Verizon so I will just have to suffer this one out for another year.  Maybe we'll get jellybean tomorrow, maybe we'll get it by Christmas, maybe we'll get it a year from now when my contract is over.  In the meantime I can't use my photo gallery like I want to because the last update pushed broke my photo gallery.

I wish Google had a similar "don't mess around" policy with the carriers that Apple does with their phones.  I think we'd have a better customer experience that way.  I thought that's what the Nexus was supposed to be.

Obviously the fact that I can't have Google Wallet, can't use tethering, etc., can't get updates, illustrates that my version of the Nexus phone is anything but a Google phone.
 
+Jeremy Cupp I agree that Apple phones get the apps first.  By being an Android user I was largely locked out of the whole Instagram thing.  There would have been a benefit to having been able to be on Instagram early.  I'm on there now but late to the party.  My username thomashawk was already taken of course, so I get to be thomashawk22.  :)  
 
soon   [soon]  
adverb, soon·er, soon·est.
1.
within a short period after this or that time, event, etc.: We shall know soon after he calls.
2.
before long; in the near future; at an early date: Let's leave soon.
3.
promptly or quickly: He came as soon as he could.
4.
readily or willingly: I would as soon walk as ride.
5.
early in a period of time; before the time specified is much advanced: soon at night; soon in the evening.

June to Sept. is not "soon."
 
OK, of course there is the whole discussion about routing, fragmentation, update policy, apple versus android apps and so on.

But: Isn't the main problem a gallery that is not working? What is the problem?

A quick workaround could be to install a third party app, such as QuickPic or Photo Gallery (Fish Bowl). Of course not the perfect solution, but it may be a fast and practical one.
 
It seems like we've lost a lot of consumer power when it comes to smartphones. We're paying $400+ for the privilege of paying $100+/month in order to use these products, and yet the number of limitations and restrictions that carriers and manufacturers want to put on my phone make me feel like they're telling me to step to the back of the bus, every time I have a question about how to get my new phone to do something that last iteration did for free. "Oh, we charge you for that now."
 
Apple solved this problem in a simple way: The carriers are not involved in updates at all. Period. The updates come from Apple directly when they are ready. The boldest and best thing Apple did with iPhone, besides all the wonderful touch invention and design, is get the carriers less involved with the customer's user experience.

So to me it is a huge and embarrassing step backwards that Google and/or other handset makers did not demand the same level of direct interaction with their customers. It tells me that still, in 2012, Apple is the only consumer electronics company that truly cares about the user experience enough to take responsibility for the software in their hardware.
 
+Zachery Jensen the problem is that Apple only sells iOS to iPhones, Android is sold not only by Google, but to many others, so they can't negociate the same way Apple does it.
 
While I'm generally on the Apple bandwagon, I have a hard time saying things like "Apple cares about the user experience" with a straight face. Apple designs devices which require users to interact in a specific way, and if you don't agree with/enjoy their user interface, then you're screwed. Case in point: iTunes music directories, iphone application folders (there aren't any), or any other system where users are allowed to determine how to store or sort data on their own. Apple has consistently been the largest target of accusations of monopoly-development in the last 10 years. They keep the carriers out of the loop, not because they care about the customer experience, but because they insist on maintaining total control.
 
Since you're stuck with Verizon for another year, you can try a factory reset on your phone (if you haven't done so already) to fix your gallery. No rooting or anything, that's a stock option.
 
I would try try the factory reset, again, the support website will answer any tech questions at all and the software update will be pushed out as soon as it possibly can which is to directly improve any qwerks the phone has, again, its a piece of technical equipment, its not flawless and its not going to be and nothing is so I don't set my expectations that high about it, but I do understand your frustration believe me...use backup assistant for your contacts under settings and then under accounts and your gmail should sync any apps you had already downloaded and check the support site for launch dates for software and other great ideas...:)
 
I've got the Nexus 7 and absolutely love it but a quick glance through tech news stories about so many Android phones only just getting ICS if at all is enough to put me off committing myself to the platform for another 2 years. Going for the combination of Nexus 7 and iPhone 5 will (I hope) give me the best of both worlds and updates as they happen for both platforms.
 
And this is why Verizon is unlikely to get another Nexus phone... I really have to urge you to consider rooting your phone though. The Galaxy Nexus in particular has a lot of support and there are great tools out there to make the process pretty painless.

Your other two options are ditch Android, or ditch Verizon.

Ditch Android if the iPhone will give you everything you want in a phone and you care more about the carrier, ditch Verizon if you care more about having Android's features and Google integration. The GSM Galaxy Nexus got updated pretty quickly.
 
and thanks to +Stefan Bäurle for emailing me the set up file for Google Wallet and showing me how to bypass Verizon and get it installed on my phone.  :)
 
Motorola Photon here... still awaiting ICS, coming soon. But then it'll be ANOTHER 2 versions behind.
 
i´m getting samsung galaxy3 and expecting jellybean pretty soon.. in google we trust,, ;)
 
My last 3 phones were all unlocked or rooted. I don't think I can live with a vendor crippled phone anymore.
 
+Thomas Hawk I feel for you.  While I've got an iPhone and wouldn't ever switch over because I've locked myself into the Apple ecosystem, I think that Apple absolutely got it right when they bypassed the carriers and deliver their own updates as they come out to everybody.  That's one area that Google could take a page from, especially on the Nexus.  If it's the official Google Phone, they should release an update that you can load either OTA or using a computer without worrying about the carriers.  Even if it's not, it's time to unify the entire Android ecosystem and get carriers and manufacturers on board with offering the latest update immediately upon release.  I say come back to Apple!
 
In any case, Android is still a lot better than Apple, because I see every day, which problems people have with this product. Most people just do not want to say honestly.
 
Personally I don't understand why people in US still go for carrier contracts. I mean carrier are to blame here. Look on the new iPhone 5 ... you can't even do a phone call and use data at the same time on some carriers in the US which can be a big problem if you want to use it for tethering your macbook. Some want to charge extra for facetime - do they do that for G+ Hangouts? No..Apple must have done a bad deal here with the devil..the carriers. Daily I hear or read in the internet where people say that the carriers suck and the carriers rip the people off or ruin the device experience with bloatware and such things - so why people still sign their contracts and buy their branded phones?

Here in Europe we had that issue years ago as well but people didn't longer accept that. They bought their unlocked phones from Amazon or other electronic retailers and got prepaid cards. The overall costs are much lower and it pushes the competition between the carriers because now people can switch the carrier and plans every day. They're not longer in their 2 year jail. 

Carrier seem to have way more control and power in the US and maybe also in Canada than in many other parts of the world but only the customer can change this. Get unlocked phones and don't longer sign their contracts - period. 
Just want to mention that this is not mainly about your post +Thomas Hawk, but it's meant in general.
 
and still no jellybean update for the Nexus.  sigh.
 
+Thomas Hawk I've been using an Android phone since the Google G1 was first released in 2008 on T-Mobile. In the early years there was no Android app market, we waited what seemed like forever for updates, and we wondered if there ever would be a second phone. How things have changed in 4 years! 

What has not changed is the greedy, predatory phone carriers who do whatever they can to make money, the customer be damned. I do not understand why they are allowed to lie, cheat and limit services on such a large scale, and why consumers will stand in line to be punished by them. Given the rapid turnover in technology, the phone manufacturers and carriers have little interest in supporting obsolete models and OS versions. More profitable to penalize customers for upgrades. 

It took some work but I have not been on a long-term contract with a phone carrier since I started using Android. Anything more than a monthly pay-as-you-go is crazy IMO, although the phone carriers have resisted reasonable monthly data plans. In the meantime, internet calling has opened up other options, and I am currently in a beta program with Republic Wireless. 

I had hoped that Android would stir up the communications industry. Unfortunately, the result is not so much choice with plans but rather a bewildering mess of hardware and software that makes keeping up even more expensive and frustrating. The iPhone is attractive but I will not enter into a long-term contract with a devil phone carrier to get one, and rooting iOS is even more problematic than Android. 

In your case, I would weigh the cost of tossing the "Verizon Nexus" and buying an unlocked Google Nexus or going the route described in http://blogs.computerworld.com/smartphones/20706/verizon-galaxy-nexus and ditching Verizon if coverage is not a problem. In the long run, your data plan is far more expensive than the phone. 

Your confusion with the Nexus phone brings back memories of when Adobe rolled out their highly confusing CS product line with many different upgrade options. I mistakingly ordered the wrong one. Despite being a faithful, long-time customer I was treated so badly by Adobe that I abandoned their products--hard to do for a photographer! Fortunately, around that time several Mac apps filled the gap nicely and I am Adobe-free. If only it were so easy with phones. 
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