Why Android Doesn't Work... Yet

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The Little Things I Love and Hate About Ice Cream Sandwich

The Android operating system, introduced in 2008 by Google, is often criticised for being too complicated to use and not being as well-designed as its competitors. While these were partially valid points, until last October when Ice Cream Sandwich was announced, they are not the main reason for Android 'not working'.

The Android platform is open-sourced meaning any developer or device manufacturer can edit and use it on their hardware. This means that Android doesn't go along a straight controlled path from its creator, Google, to the end-user. The path of Android goes through carriers to OEMs (Original Equipment Manufacturer) then finally back to Google.

Each new point on the path from the end-user to the creator means more organisation and attention is required. This makes it very difficult for the user to stay up-to-date with Google's new releases - their carriers and OEMs simply do not pass updates down the path.

If you buy an Android phone from anyone but Google, I would bet you will not get updates for your device if it is not one of the carrier's latest devices. They insist on adding their own bloatware to Google's software which takes time - a lot of time apparently!

For example, the latest Ice Cream Sandwich update for Android is currently only available on the launch device, the Galaxy Nexus, or for other devices via unofficial, unsupported software. The OEMs and carriers are saying they will release the updates in the middle of spring. This just is not fast enough, and it is because they want to customise the already beautiful Android OS.

You may be wondering why, if the problem is so clear, nothing is being done about this. Well, something is being done... kind of. At CES 2012, many OEMs and carriers were pressed by journalists to reduce the number of devices they release in 2012, and they seemed to be complying. If fewer devices were made each year, more support could be provided to customers which would make for a more up-to-date mobile ecosystem.

At this time, all we can do is look forward in anticipation to the year ahead and hope that the dis-functional stops on the path from Google to us do what is best for the people who pay them.