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Awesome Infographic: HTC Shows Us “The Anatomy of an Android OS Update” From PDK to OTA

Ever wonder what the entire process of an Android update looks like? How and when do carriers get involved? Who are all of the players? How much quicker or fewer steps are there for developer or Google Play editions? When do manufacturers see the newest version of Android? All of that can be found in a lengthy infographic that HTC posted their Software Updates page, a spot that gives the status on current HTC phones and when they plan to push updates to them.

The image takes you on a journey of three different device types:  carrier, unlocked/developer, and Google Play edition. You’ll see where an update can get caught up in the system, how much easier it is for HTC to get updates ready for non-carrier phones, and more.

You can find the entire infographic below, but I found a couple of points in particular interesting:

  • According to HTC’s count, Developer/unlocked and Google Play edition devices see 3 and 4 fewer steps through an update life cycle than carrier-tied devices do.
  • Chipset manufacturers have a lot more say in updates than I think any of us ever consider. Should one of them decide that their chipsets won’t work well with a new version of Android, there is a chance that that particular phone is done for good with no new drivers made available.
  • Even though most phone OEMs are making single devices that hit each carrier, there is still a lot of carrier customization done in terms of software that takes time during the process, especially should one not approve an initial build.
  • OEMs are receiving a Platform Developer Kit (PDK), however, they get new Android version source when the rest of us do, which is not until Google makes it available.

htc update infographic

If you sneak over to HTC’s new status update page, you’ll see how the carrier-tied versions of HTC One are coming along through the process. At this point, HTC would put them in the “Integration” stage which means the update has a ways to go. The “Integration” stage is where HTC works with carriers to decide if any software modifications are needed before implementing them, doing internal testing, letting carriers test, and then hopefully getting final approval for a push.

Also, you may want to bookmark that page.

Via:  HTC | Android Police
  • Jeremy Brann

    This a great graphic, and just one of several objective reasons why the US contract-based wireless model is absurd. So many American’s can’t manage their money well, that all they care about is that “$99” phone price. In reality, they’re giving up the ability to move between carriers AND the ability to have the latest OS on their device AND they’re paying more in the long run! You can get a Nexus (4 or 5) or Moto X for $200-$400, AND not deal with this nonsense, AND you save money. Think about it, if you’re locked into a 2-year contract, what incentive does the carrier have to get you prompt OS updates? None. You’re a hostage, and you’re probably paying them $80 a month or more. T-mobile and the virtual network operators like Virgin and Straight Talk are absolutely viable alternatives to AT&T/Verizon.

  • Andrew T Roach

    And that in short is why I buy iPhones or Nexus devices ONLY.

  • M3D1T8R

    Cool. But the DNA is running Sense 5 now, Android 4.2.2, not Sense 4 like that page still says. So who knows how current they are keeping that page on anything. Nonetheless I’m glad it doesn’t even list the DNA in the process for kitkat (though they’ve said “First Q 2014”, which likely means maybe by around May), as I’m afraid it will break WiFi hotspot (Foxfi) like it apparently did on the Moto X. So the further out the better as far as I’m concerned. DNA is running great now anyway after the recent 4.2/Sense 5 update, though they should have pushed it straight to 4.3 (like they suggested they would). With a cool new Meenova mini micro SD card reader on the way to allow access to 64GB of music, I’m loving my DNA again.

  • TheDrunkenClam

    Still would be faster if manufacturers would abandon their awful skins.
    Skins are holding android back for so many reason.

    • Chris

      No thanks. Thats what the nexus phones are for. This is android after all.

    • aQuickBit

      I kind of like Sense

      *cue hisses*

  • Larizard

    So I see where the Galaxy Nexus dies…. Chipset.. OMAP….

  • Justin

    It would be great if every phone manufacturer made a page like HTC’s status page for updates.

  • Anyone else still waiting for their Droid Maxx update?

  • Michael Bell

    What a clusterf**k. Nothing like having a brand new phone running a version of the OS outdated a year ago. KitKat has been out for nearly 3 months and its still only running on ONE percent of Android phones! LOL. Gotta hand it to Apple for stcking to their guns and refusing carriers to have any control over the iPhone whatsoever.

    • Careful…they will call you a troll on here if you post objective facts about Apple.

    • TechTinker11

      KitKat has the fastest adoption rate though. Its on all the Nexus devices, Most newer motos, some HTC, 1 LG. Theres just a lot of phones, mainly from Shitsung who releases 20 phones and updates 2.

      • JJ69Chev

        What LG phone has kit kat offically?

        • Higher_Ground

          The N5

          • Justin W

            That falls under “Nexus”

        • TechTinker11

          LG G2 Korean.

          • JJ69Chev

            Ok I’m talking US. And I agree N5 falls under nexus.

    • BobbyG

      It is, though manufacturer skins make the need for instant updates to the new OS less critical. I used to get so pissed at the whole GNex/VZW fiasco. Now with my G2 I am not that concerned with 4.4

    • casualsuede

      Apple seems to have control over the upload process because they time their releases after the OS has been tested at the carrier. Meanwhile, Google does their release whenever it’s ready and has OEM’s scrambling to catch up.

      Also, Apple does one release a year. Google can provide up to 4 releases in a year, some minor within the same OS eco system (4.0 to 4.0.1) with minor changes.

      I can understand why HTC did this, this is not only an explanation to us consumers, but also a underhanded complaint to everyone involved in the decision tree, including chipmakers, carriers and especially Google.

  • TimS

    It’s a miracle any updates get done.

  • wmsco1

    Being simplistic in nature, I think other than radios and up or downloads in communications between tower and phone that carriers need to get out of the way. It’s between Google, Chip makers and manufacturers. If carriers have modified something it should be listed for others to comply and should have been already tested before listing. Just my opinion

  • dan0matic

    HTC needs to spend less time on infograpphics and more time updating their devices…

    • Chris

      2011 called. It wants you back kid

      • dan0matic

        2013 called and has no idea what you are taking about.

        • Frisi

          HTC was the first OEM to update to 4.3, quickly rolled out 4.4 to GPe and Dev Editions. What are YOU talking about? And 4.4 will come out for carrier devices in late January. Now Samsung and the rest of the gang are still updating to 4.3. HTC has gotten their game straight updating their devices in a timely manner and being transparent about it. 😉

          • dan0matic

            That may be the case for this one phone, but if you have been around long enough you would know that HTC has a history of awful update support for devices.

          • Chris

            Thats the past. We are talking about the present. The current line of phones that ARE getting updates now or very soon

          • Daniel Walsh

            HTC is really fast with updates for the HTC One, already one Android 4.4, got it over a month ago.

    • Ryan Laursen

      *unrelated* used your Republic Wireless referral link. How are you liking them? (comments were closed on the other article)

  • Daniel Walsh

    HTC and Moto are best at quick updates,

    • AndroidUser00110001

      LG has KitKat for Korean G2 so LG is pretty quick too if you judge them by the same standards as you are HTC and Moto. Moto was actually the fastest company to get KitKat to the Moto X and soon the newer line of Droid phones that are on US carriers. HTC only has KitKat on their GPE One and unlocked One. Samsung also has KitKat on their GPE device.

    • Jeremy Gross

      say that to my razr hd still on 4.1.2

      • Daniel Walsh

        I’m talking latest phones, not useless phones like the RAZR HD.

  • sc4fpse

    What this doesn’t explain is why Moto can churn out updates in no more than a few weeks’ time, whereas the carrier editions of HTC’s flagship One are waiting nearly three months (or more!) for KitKat.

    • My guess would be “stock Android.” Not much for the carriers to fix. Either that, or they worked out some special behind the scenes deal?

      • trixnkix637

        I believe stock Android is the answer. Touchwiz, Blur back in the day, Sense.. those are heavy skins that require extensive testing and tweaking on top of the extensive testing & tweaking we’d normally see anyway. Moto has decided to do away with that unecessary procedure to stunning effect.

        • Cael

          Or HTC can start taking parts of Sense and putting them into the Play Store…

          • rals

            And you hit the nail on the head. Motorola has embraced this idea like Google (No surprise) by breaking out the APK’s as a play store update.

          • aQuickBit

            Yeah if I could download Blinkfeed as an app that would be awesome.

          • LionStone

            Ever since the update to 4.2.2 on the DNA, I went back to stock from Nova Prime and I’ve yet to turn back to Nova. I didn’t make Blinkfeed my Home page, but it’s there when I want it, very nice!

      • sc4fpse

        Yeah – sorry, that was exactly what I was getting at. Guess I didn’t spell that out too clearly. 🙂 HTC should really, you know… take a hint. Sense is atrocious.

        • Justin W

          The other side of this is that the HTC One (unlocked) received 4.4 not long after the carrier version of the Moto X. They did really good with the quickness of that update, and they even had to integrate Sense into it.

        • TC Infantino

          While many bash Sense, I may be in the minority because I actually liked quite a few aspects of it. I loved how the Sense Calendar could easily incorporate the birthdays and events from FB and let em set auto reminders for them. I also happen to like the way that Sense helped keep your contacts clean by combining the many different communication versions into one contact for each person….ie FB, G+, Yahoo and Gmail, etc. I love my new Droid Maxx, but I have had to work to accomplish the same things that Sense did almost completely automatically. I still don’t have my calendar collecting and showing all my contacts birthdays.

          • Fresh360

            “There is an app for that…” I know you’re talking about native capabilities but ‘Cal’ is really the best calendar I have ever used.

          • TC Infantino

            Thank you very much for the information! Cal seems to be exactly what I have been looking for, and the Any.do integration will be great for what I need. I really appreciate you telling me about this. Thanks.

        • Cory

          Sense is amazing.

      • C-Law

        I find it funny the things Verizon still wanted their own way on the vzw moto x 4.4 update, for example when GPS is on, it gives the old icon in the status bar instead of the new KitKat gps icon that I know sprint and unlocked/T-Mobile versions got

      • 4n1m4L

        they were working down this tree while 4.4 was being developed.

    • fauxshizzl

      They may have an advantage being technically part of Google itself, also the phones that got the new software that quickly looked very near stock compared to having to get Sense shoe horned in there. But it would be real nice to see Moto’s example become the norm among all the major OEMs.

  • MistaButters

    This explains why the G-Nex doesn’t have official 4.4 support btw

    • miri

      Just about to type this. Most likely to do with Steps 4/5 as there is no chipset manufacturer.

      • Karen James


        ▇ ▇ ▇ ▇ ▇ ▇ ▇ ▇ ▇ ▇ ֌ ▇ ▇ ▇ ▇ ▇ ▇ ▇ ▇ ▇ According to HTC’s count, Developer/unlocked and Google Play edition devices see 3 and 4 fewer steps through an update life cycle than carrier-tied devices do.

    • James

      Where did it go bad for the gnex btw? Chipset?

      • MistaButters

        Yeah. TI killed off the OMAP line so there was no way Google could get official support and updated drivers.

      • Eric R.

        Well it was either TI, S3, or S2, they chose what was best for longevity

    • darioqqo948

      My Uncle John just got an awesome silver
      Volkswagen CC by working online… hop over to these guys J­a­m­2­0­.­ℂ­o­m

  • Very informative

  • Cael

    Pretty sure the Tegra 3 powered Nexus 7 has Kit Kat…so wheres Kit Kat for the One X’s….

    • MistaButters

      The One X and One X+ in North America were both long forgotten. And considering that phone passed the 18 month support window, I wouldn’t expect an update even if they say it will be updated.

      (I came from a One X. Sold it and bought an N5)

      • Cael

        I know, they’re like every other product HTC released. I just find it hypocritical that HTC wants to get into the update (and have them ready fast) game now. They probably wouldn’t have lost so many people if they did that in the first place.

        • MistaButters

          I know it’s partially on the carriers, but I will never buy another HTC phone because of the way they handled the One X. Nexus or Moto for me.

  • MichaelFranz

    i like this for many reasons. Goes to show just how much work is involved in getting this done. One thing i would like to see, and i’m sure we can all agree this would never happen, is that carriers work with OEM’s and publish a sort of webpage dedicated to a phone/device in which it tells us when and where an update stands. Obviously specifically for major OS updates if a device is required. I would say the same for OEM’s even if the device is not tied to a mobile carrier.

    just a thought, but bravo HTC for getting something like this out. And a nice graphic design to boot

    • casualsuede

      The problem with this, is not the infograph, but the fact that when it is even a minor OS change (4.1 to 4.1.1 for example) that brings very little end consumer benefit (mostly tinkering with the OS) people NEED to have it right away, even though the process is the same as going from GB to ICS for example.

      As Americans have been led to rely on the phone subsidy model, many of them have been led to believe an OS change is a MUST HAVE.

      Google should incorporate any changes into a once a year release (like Apple) and save the step of having the OEM going to the chipset manufacturer, but working with the chipset manufacturer directly to get the release approved before a PDK goes out.

  • Ryan

    Hopefully now people can stop complaining that their carrier branded devices arent being updated immediately after a new os is announced. Maybe Qualcomm doesnt want an old device updated so customers buy new ones regardless of the OEM. Now they can see all the steps involved. And roms bypass all these steps lol

    • Petro Dragoumanos

      While ROMs are a nice way to extend a phone’s life span, when was the last time you used a ROM that was bug free? Also it seems wrong if somebody has to void their warranty to update to the latest version of an OS. I do wish there was a way to streamline and speed up the update process.

      • Ryan

        There is its a Nexus. and I havent used a rom since 4.0 came out.

        • Petro Dragoumanos

          That’s the rub though, if you want timely updates you’re best bet is a Nexus or a GPE phone. Don’t get me wrong Motorola and HTC have done a great job with updating the Moto X, HTC G and HTC One, but how about the droids and last year’s HTC phones. I know it’s just wishful thinking but it would be great if any phone less than 3 years old got the OS updates around the same time as a Nexus or GPE phone.

      • trixnkix637

        With that many cogs it’s practically impossible. Hence the Nexus program.

    • Justin W

      Also, I think it’s worth it to point out Motorola and how well they did with the 4.4 update.

      • Ryan

        It is. but i think they got the PDKs early because Google owns Moto now. I would imagine all future moto phones will get timely updates. Right now its all about the $$$ to steal marketshare form Samsung. Some OEMs I imagine run TV ads some pay big bucks to quickly push out updates. OEMs are trying to do anything they can.

        • mustbepbs

          You got proof of that statement that Motorola got the PDKs early?

          • Ryan

            keywords “I Think”. Calm your tits

  • Greg Morgan

    Carriers still get way too much say in these updates IMHO.

    • James Hill

      You have to consider that if the device is bricked by an update, the carrier is on the hook to provide a replacement device. The carrier has a reputation of reliability (network and device) to uphold.

      • yesterdays

        The carrier isnt responsible, they just ship it back to the OEM for warranty/refurbishment

        • trixnkix637

          In the public’s eye however they are. Older Adult’s and non techie’s aren’t going to blame Samsung for their phone not working. They’ll blame Verizon. Just like not many people blamed Apple for the iPhone dropping calls a few years back. At&t ate that humble pie majorly.

          • niuguy

            Yup, I hate the carriers as much as anyone but they do have a vested interest in controlling the devices. Few people care much about updates like we do and so there is risk without much reward to pushing out updates fast. Whatevs, I have a nexus 5 now 🙂

          • sk3litor

            People are funny like that. We’ll buy a 2010 car and be satisfied for 4,5,6 years but we’re ready to set fire to the streets if we can’t get lock screen widgets in 2 months

          • Matthew Rebmann

            Cars are hardware upgrade more so than phones. That argument is ridiculous. Also, Cars cost thousands of dollars. They SHOULD last.

          • sk3litor

            Lighten up smart guy

        • Spider210

          you must not be speaking of verizon, they centralize all their devices in a HUGE warehouse in TX and all the refurbishing and testing of returned devices and now ‘CLNR’ devices come from. so yes it would be a burden on the carrier.

  • Matthew Morrison