The State of Android Honeycomb Updates: Better, but Not Stellar

Joanna Stern at This is My Next has been getting the scoop on Android 3.1 updates for several Honeycomb tablets. The situation's a lot better than it is on Android phones, whose updates are often set back by phone makers and carriers, but it's not quite ideal.

Here's the rundown on updates for existing Android Honeycomb tablets, from Stern's report and elsewhere:

  • The Verizon version of Motorola's Xoom got the 3.1 update last week, after Google announced it at Google I/O. The Wi-Fi version, however, will be updated over the "next several weeks."
  • Asus and Acer both expect updates in early June for the Iconia Tab A500 and Eee Pad Transformer, respectively.
  • LG and T-Mobile won't give a time frame other than "coming soon" for the G-Slate.
  • Samsung's Galaxy Tab 10.1 Limited Edition, which was handed out to attendees at Google I/O, will get Android 3.1 in "in the coming weeks."

The timeframe for Honeycomb tablet updates is a major improvement over Android smartphones. When Google announced Android 2.2 at its developer conference in May of last year, no phones besides its own Nexus One got the update until August. Samsung's Fascinate didn't get Android 2.2 until last month, nearly a year after Google released it. Android 2.3, which launched in December, is running on about 4 percent of phones that have recently accessed the Android Market.

Software modifications from phone makers, and the need for carriers to test and approve the updates, slows down the process for smartphones. The latest Honeycomb tablets, however, either run stock versions of Android 3.0 or something very similar, and most of the tablets are not offered through wireless carriers. (I assume Motorola and Verizon worked on the Xoom's update ahead of time.) All of this makes updating a lot easier.

But several weeks is still a long time to wait for the latest software, and there's no guarantee that the tablets of today will get the updates of tomorrow. The f word probably doesn't apply here, but I'd still call the update process on Android tablets a minor inconvenience.

For comprehensive coverage of the Android ecosystem, visit Greenbot.com.

Subscribe to the Tablet Tips & Trends Newsletter

Comments