Android device users who purchased handsets this year through AT&T will be getting an upgrade to Gingerbread, the latest version of Google’s smartphone operating system.
The US telecommunications giant announced Tuesday that six Android-powered handsets released in 2011 will receive the Android 2.3 platform update that offers users a range of upgrades, including enhanced tactile keyboards, optimized battery life, smoother interfaces, improved copy-and-paste functionality and an overall tweak in smartphone performance.
The Motorola Atrix 4G, HTC Inspire 4G, Samsung Captivate, Samsung Infuse 4G, LG Phoenix and Pantech Crossover are the devices involved. Over the coming weeks, owners of these devices will receive notifications to install the update over the air when connected to a Wi-Fi network.
AT&T has confirmed that all contract-based Android devices purchased this year will have access to the Gingerbread software.
Other mobile operators in the US like Verizon Wireless began delivering the update in late May, with Motorola Droid X and Droid Incredible 2 users among those included. Sprint also released Android 2.3 to owners of the HTC EVO Shift 4G on June 16, while T-Mobile has given a limited number of MyTouch 4G users access to the software.
Too Many Types of Gingerbread
Google’s Android 2.3 platform was released in December 2010, but it has taken quite some time for mobile phone makers and operators to actively promote the software. Only in recent weeks have new handsets actually been sold direct to the public with Gingerbread already installed.
Much of the problem with the Android operating system is that there are several versions across a variety of handsets made by different manufacturers. Consumers have reported frustration with this fragmentation, which often leads to confusion over just what updates – if any – their device will have access to.
Faced with growing customer dissatisfaction and reluctance from major manufacturers, such as Samsung and LG, to push the Android updates, Google promised to review their Gingerbread operating system.
In May, the Internet giant pledged to work together with mobile manufacturers and network providers to facilitate the upgrade process and guarantee updates for all new Android handsets for a minimum of 18 months after their release.
The confusion and compatibility problems associated with the many Android versions paint a stark contrast with Google’s main rival. Apple provides frequent OS upgrades for its iPhone and usually includes them by default in all new handsets – independent of mobile network carriers.
Tuesday’s announcement from AT&T is a clear indication that Google intends to smooth out all the lumps in its Gingerbread operation.
Key Statistics – World Smartphone Market Share (source: Gartner)
- Global unit sales of smartphones are expected to hit 468 million units in 2011, up 58% over the number sold in 2010.
- Sales of open operating system (OS) devices should represent 26% of all mobile handset device sales in 2011.
- Unit sales of open OS devices are expected to reach 1 billion by 2015, accounting for 47% of the world mobile device market.
- By 2015, 67% of all open OS devices are expected to sell, on average, for a maximum price of $300.