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Motorola's Xoom is getting the Android 3.1 update today

The new Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 will hit store shelves within a month. Google gave out 5,000 of the tablets to Google I/O conference attendees.

  (Source: Engadget)
Google brings out the big guns for its Google I/O conference

The Google I/O conference kicked off earlier today, and some of the biggest announcements coming out revolve around its popular Android OS for smartphones and tablets. Google announced that it has surpassed the 100 million activations mark and it is activating new devices at a rate of 400,000 per day. In addition, 4.5 billion applications have been installed from the Android Market.

Google also announced that the launch vehicle for Honeycomb, Motorola’s pricey Xoom tablet, would be the first to get an upgrade to Android 3.1. Android 3.1 includes improved application task management, USB host support, direct phone to tablet USB support, and widget resizing (vertical and horizontal stretching). 

Android 3.1 will be available today for Xoom users. Google TV will be upgraded to Android 3.1 later this summer. 

In other Honeycomb news, Google announced that the sleek Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1" tablet will be launching within the next month. For those keeping score, the Galaxy Tab 10.1 is priced at $499 and $599 respectively for the 16GB and 32GB models. There is no word on availability for the smaller 8.9" variant which starts at $469.

For those that are sick and tired of being left in the dark when it comes to OS updates for Android devices, Google has formed a coalition of wireless carriers (AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile, and Sprint in the U.S) and device manufacturers (HTC, Samsung, Sony Ericsson, LG, and Motorola) who pledge to make sure that customers are guaranteed prompt OS upgrades. Devices will be supported for up to 18 months after release under the condition that the underlying hardware supports the OS upgrade (that could be a major sticking point for some smartphones/tablets).

However, it's good to hear that Google is at least trying to tackle the "fragmentation" problem that everyone complains about (i.e. brand new smartphones launching with Android 2.1).

Perhaps the biggest news coming out of the Android camp is the announcement of Ice Cream Sandwich, which will be the next version of the Android operating system. It will be Google's "most ambitious" Android release to date, and will land in Q4 2011.
 

Google is a little light on details regarding Ice Cream Sandwich at the moment, but the big takeaway is that the OS will support a revamped UI, and will consolidate OS development so that smartphones, tablets, convertible devices, etc. all run on the same code base (think iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad with iOS). 



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It's a start, but...
By DanNeely on 5/10/2011 1:48:53 PM , Rating: 4
With popular devices kept on the market for as much as a year after launch (or longer for some the trickle down from high end to entry level devices), an 18mo window is rather lacking compared against 2 year contracts. If they committed to providing an officially supported and relatively simple way to unlock the bootloader and install custom roms after the end of the support period the 18mo window would be much less of an issue.




RE: It's a start, but...
By 440sixpack on 5/10/2011 3:03:38 PM , Rating: 3
Totally agree. Pisses me off that my barely year old Droid is considered a second class phone now.


RE: It's a start, but...
By Solandri on 5/10/2011 3:40:02 PM , Rating: 1
There should be some legal requirement that the device has to be supported for as long as (1) the length of the warranty, or (2) the length of your contract, whichever is longer. If the carriers want to push 3-year contracts (which is actually the norm in Canada), they damn well better provide support for folks on that contract who don't want to upgrade their phone.

I'd also like it if carriers were required to open up (root/jailbreak) and unlock (so you can take it to another carrier) any phone which is out of warranty and not supported anymore. They're not subsidizing the cost of it anymore, it's your phone now. You should be able to do whatever you want with it.


RE: It's a start, but...
By snakeInTheGrass on 5/10/2011 4:28:12 PM , Rating: 3
Legal requirement? How about don't buy Android devices if they won't support them? For all the moaning about other 'evil' companies, they have a hell of a lot better support than that.


RE: It's a start, but...
By SkullOne on 5/11/2011 9:05:07 AM , Rating: 2
I'm assuming you mean the original Droid. It has received no less then 5 updates as it is in the last 18 months since its release. 2.0.1, 2.1, 2.2, 2.2.1, 2.2.2. I don't know about you but two major releases and 3 point releases is pretty good support for the Droid.

Also, Droid hardware cannot support Android 2.3 correctly. Yes, CyanogenMod 7 and Project Elite 5.x run, but people have issues with the aggressive memory management due to the lack of RAM. This is why Project Elite has options to lock applications into memory in order to keep things like widgets from constantly be killed.


RE: It's a start, but...
By mcnabney on 5/10/2011 3:10:03 PM , Rating: 2
My wife has a Fascinate still running 2.1.

Samsung can suck it. Promise an upgrade in 4Q10, it is 2Q11 now. Fool me once, Samsung...


RE: It's a start, but...
By Alexstarfire on 5/10/2011 4:30:42 PM , Rating: 4
Galaxy S phones are one of the easiest models to install custom ROMS onto. I got 2.3.3 on my phone about a week ago and haven't looked back. Hell, I got 2.2 before the day Samsung said we were going to get it. Not ideal I know, but still. Only problem with stock on the phones is that it's not optimized very well. When I first got my Captivate 2.2 was available yet so I had a custom 2.1 ROM. Even with that you could see a big difference in performance from stock.


RE: It's a start, but...
By room200 on 5/10/2011 5:03:23 PM , Rating: 2
Why is she still running 2.1? 2.2 has been out for a few weeks now.


RE: It's a start, but...
By gibb3h on 5/11/2011 3:47:36 AM , Rating: 2
I'm just worried about how they will interpret 18 months support, knowing Samsung, they will still be working on an update released in month 1 by the time 18 months have passed -.-


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