Now that the Galaxy Nexus is finally out on American shelves today, finally, we’re really going to see the wheels on Google’s latest – and certainly most differentiated – version of Android roll into homes. We’ve had our time with Android 4.0 (or Ice Cream Sandwich, as you know it) and we think it’s pretty swell, but are any of Google’s big efforts to improve Android substantially really going to make it to most customers any time soon? Unfortunately, no.
Android Fragmentation. Yes, we’ve already talked about the how and the why so many phones are stuck on old versions of the OS. As of a few weeks ago, the year old Gingerbread, the last version of Android specifically for phones, had only become an upgrade-able option on half of all Android-based phones. That’s not to say that half of all phones have the year old Gingerbread, it’s that only half can upgrade to the year old Gingerbread.
Verizon Doesn’t Really Seem To Care. With their bizarre handling of our country’s first Ice Cream Sandwich phone and lack of advertising support, Verizon seems to only be carrying the Nexus Prime as an analog to the Galaxy S II, rather than as the revolution in a handset it is. Android has made Verizon a ton of money, but they seem more intent on bloating it with their wares than really helping to advance the platform.
Google’s Not Really Helping Things. No one really knows (or cares) what a “pure” Google experience on an Android is, despite Motorola’s original Droid shipping with an as-intended version on-board. Andy Rubin, Android Chief, and Matias Duarte, Android Designer, are the captains of the new direction the good ship Android is sailing in, but they’re just not conveying to anyone outside of a core audience (like us) why Ice Cream Sandwich is so important to the user experience.
Manufacturers Are Probably Going To Ruin The Hell Out Of It. I don’t want to scare you, but if you haven’t seen this version of Samsung’s TouchWiz running on top of ICS on a Galaxy S II, you should find a stable position to brace yourself and set down your mug before your hot beverage simply falls out of your hands. It is one of the most atrocious things I’ve ever seen and I happen to love my Epic (although I’m running an ICS-facsimile ROM on it).