2007 iPhone 2G is on iPhone 3.1, 2009 Android Dream/Magic Stuck on 1.5


So the oldest 2007 iPhone 2G can easily download and run (most of) iPhone OS 3.1 while the current 2009 crop of HTC Dream and Magic devices on Rogers will officially be stuck on Android 1.5? According to sibling site AndroidCentral.com:

"HTC is not currently planning any Android 1.6 upgrades for Rogers Dream or Magic. Android 1.6 was only made available for “Google”-branded devices such as the G1. It is not available for HTC-branded products such as the Dream or Magic, which use Android 1.5. We believe that Android 1.5 is a stable and reliable software platform that delivers a terrific user experience."

Google explains this is a consequence of being not evil "open", again via AndroidCentral.com:

When we open source our code we use standard, open Apache 2.0 licensing, which means we don't control the code. Others can take our open source code, modify it, close it up and ship it as their own. Android is a classic example of this, as several OEMs have already taken the code and done great things with it. There are risks to this approach, however, as the software can fragment into different branches which don't work well together (remember how Unix for workstations devolved into various flavors — Apollo, Sun, HP, etc.). This is something we are working hard to avoid with Android.

Working well together isn't the problem. Rogers, HTC, and Google abandoning an entire country full of early adopters -- the very users that help drive a platform -- is the problem. How many Dream and Magic owners, likely geeks who form the loving core of Google and Android's user base, will be happy to here they're "stable* with 1.5 and don't need and won't be getting 1.6 (and who knows about 2.x?) while seeing the Motorola Droid and upcoming Hero updates, never mind Nexus One, splashed all over their interwebs.

There are pros and cons to both the integrated hardware/software/benevolent dictatorship model of Apple and the licensed hardware/software/wild west model of Google, to be sure. Buyers should beware of Apple control over the App Store and ecosystem, but they should also beware of hardware fracture from the hands-off overlords.

Sure, one day Apple will kill backwards compatibility as well, iPhone 2G first, then subsequent devices over time. If you'd bought an iPhone 3G earlier this year, however, how happy would you be if Apple and Rogers announced 2.0 was "stable" and that you don't need and won't be getting iPhone 2.x? 3.0? Would you be enjoying all the iPhone 3GS cut and paste and video commercials then? How happy would you were told your brand new iPhone 3GS wouldn't be getting 4.0 next year?

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Rene Ritchie

EiC of iMore, EP of Mobile Nations, Apple analyst, co-host of Debug, Iterate, Vector, Review, and MacBreak Weekly podcasts. Cook, grappler, photon wrangler. Follow him on Twitter and Google+.

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Reader comments

2007 iPhone 2G is on iPhone 3.1, 2009 Android Dream/Magic Stuck on 1.5


I was under the impression that they wouldn't get 1.6 but they'd get 2.1 updates, in turn just skipping a version altogether.

@Michael: If that gets announced then I'll post a follow up and sing a hearty verse of Oh, Canada, HTC, Google, and Rogers did not forget thee! Until then, a little blog pressure to get them motivated can't hurt.

"How happy would you were told your brand new iPhone 3GS wouldn’t be getting 4.0 next year?"
The day that happens is the day I jailbreak my 3GS--and maybe never buy an iphone again.

Took out the word "Forever" in the title and fixed the versioning assumption. 1) if they get 2.x it's still fractured they didn't get 1.6 but would be great to see (either if always the intent, or even if in reaction to negative publicity) and 2) forever is a long time and only Dr. Manhattan and UL can see to the end of it.

A few discrepancies with this.
First, it has been stated before that non Google Experience Magics were getting Sense UI. So theoretically (which is a strong theory) if they are able to get Sense, they will be able to get Sense UI with the 2.x upgrade. Only Magics said to not get the ability to update were Vodafone and MyTouch since they have less RAM then others, and the experience might be sluggish.
Next...even if this wasn't the case. You can't compare the iPhone 2G not having 3.x to an Android not having 1.6 and above. The reason? Look at the main difference...
1.6 basically included visual revamps next to some performance tweaks (which in all honesty, if you're not a big user...you would never notice). Also as it says, 1.5 is actually a stable version to use (although I would never be caught with it on my G1...too nerdy). 1.5 has everything the iPhone 3.x actually has. Even with iPhone 2G having 3.x it's STILL missing core features that it's older brothers has. Whereas put a 1.5 Dream/Magic next to a 1.6 G1/MyTouch and the difference will be only cosmetic. The things like camera ability was addressed by HTC, so the improvements given to it by 1.6 were already there with 1.5 on Roger's Dream/Magic. The big changes does not take hold until 2.x and above.
So honestly, before articles like this are posted, shouldn't you do a bit more research into the matter?

Also now that I think about it...even without the Sense UI being uploaded, since these are still basic HTC devices...you should also be able to just take the stock 1.6 ROM available from HTC and download it onto your device.
It seems this is more so the carrier, and not HTC or Google's doing. Rogers just doesn't want to officially push a ROM that is not customized to their liking. So they leave it up to the customer (which I've known everyone has forgotten the customer actually can control their phone) to decide which path they want to take.

Missed the point -- it doesn't matter if it's no big deal. Arguably some may think iPhone 3.1 is no big deal compared to 3.0. Maybe 2.1 or 2.2 were no big deal, maybe they were. The point is any iPhone user, on any iPhone, anywhere in the world could get them. Android? For an average consumer, it's confusing and it may become a mess.

I think you reach to far in though. If we're speaking on average users...how many average users know of updates if they are not informed by their provider?
The average user does not go onto Engadget, Android Central, here, etc...and read through trying to find the latest and greatest update. They know only what is put out there by their provider through OTA.
You can not compare the methods and thoughts of the iPhone with Android. Apple informs every user of upgrades because they are the ONLY means of issuing it. It's plattered in front of the medium that you have to use: iTunes. Android has no such thing...so therefore if you were just an average phone user, you would never even know it was on 1.5, let alone know there's a 1.6...
If we're speaking on the people who DO pay attention and scour the web. Well...8 of 10 times they have a rooted device, so it's again a moot point.

A lot of people seem to buy a new phone every time there is something new and shiny anyway, plus I suspect the majority of owners could care less or even know about firmware or OS updates on their phones. Hell, in my experience they don't even update their computers, never mind their phones.

I provide also an example to add a little support to my theory.
I work at Best Buy, customer service. So I get some phone inquiries.
One lady came in with her Hero. Was about to return it because she complained of pictures being grainy, camera being slow...overall...the experience was horrible. Which surprised me because Sprint had already pushed out an update. This lady is as average as it gets. She didn't even know that the Hero's Android was 1.5. She didn't know what I was talking about. She just knew it was Android.
A quick glance at her phone showed that she never updated to the firmware update Sprint provided...and this was something they actually did OTA. I did it for her, showed her how to for her daughter. And that second, she was happy and loved the phone and kept it.
So if the average user can even get an OTA pushed in their face and not know that there was an update. How many would know if there's NOT a notice that there is an update...

That's what I'm getting at.
Unless it's pushed in the average consumers face...they know nothing of 1.5, 1.6, 2.0, 2.1 and so forth.

At the end of the day, however, Apple faces a mostly uniform software platform with 3.x.
Android? 1.5 -> 2.0.
If that's not a problem, it might become one.

you are missing the point. Who cares if the average user doesn't notice? the fact is rogers is selling a phone that is obsolete. The android market is already full of apps that only run on version 1.6. Version 1.6 supports VPN (which i would find very useful), but i'll never be able to use this. I'll never be able to download navigation software because we don't have access to paid applications, and google navigation won't work on version 1.5.
Also google is working with adobe on a flash component for android phones, but it has already been stated this will work with version 1.6 and up I believe. So excuse me when I say I feel a bit cheated...

I don't think this will matter to many people. Consumers got used to their cell phone never changing long ago. Only the techie crowd really wants updates immediately when they come out.

Um...the point the me and Rene was making was based on the average consumer though. So that really doesn't matter. If you're that dependent upon VPN you have many option. From a simple DIY upgrade to root to a new phone.
And notice, they simply said no 1.6. Nothing excluded it from 2.x upgrades.
Mostly being the keyword.
There are still fracture in the iPhone system. Like apps that work for 3GS but not for anything below it. Same for apps working for 3G and 3GS yet not for 2G. So if you are to criticize Rogers/Dream/Magic...whoever for this right here, you'd have to turn right around and address that right there. It hasn't become a big deal (same as it hasn't become a big deal with Android), but people WILL start making apps that are exclusive for the 3GS hardware. Then what? 2G owners are already left out of quite a few things...even with 3.x updates on their phones. So it's like...you're getting the update, but not everything that comes with it. So whats the point? 1.5 to 1.6 is NOT a big step. It has things for hardcore users possibly and network carriers...but not for the average user, which is what we was speaking on. So I really don't see the problem.
It basically seems to me you're just wanting to complain about something. There's nothing bad about NOT getting 1.6 for the average consumer, yet just because they're not getting...hell, lets bitch about it. Even though it will have no significant impact.
If they are not able to jump to 2.x update...then yes, that WILL be a problem. But 1.6 is nothing. Sense doesn't have it...won't be getting it. So it's basically the same. This was stated in the beginning that non Google Experience devices are not controlled by Google hence will not get OS updates like the GE devices. So why this is new to anyone is beyond me anyways.

@iDavey, you're missing the point. If I just want a normal phone, I won't go out and buy a smartphone. I know that smartphone can do more than an ordinary cellphone and that is why I choose to buy an android phone. But knowing that my apps will not work on 1.5 is frustrating. I can download something from the google market and next thing i know is that it won't run on 1.5 and requires 1.6. or higher. Do you get the point?

Instead of calling them the HTC Dream or Magic, perhaps the phones that won't be upgraded should have more appropriate names: the HTC Orphan, Loner or Hermit!

@iDavey we had investigate this case very closely and had alot more information than Rogers offer. HTC stated clearly,
What this means is that you will only have access to features and applications designed for use with the Android 1.5 operating system. As for what you can do to get 1.6 or 2.0 for your device, you and others will need to express your interest in such updates to Rogers and persuade them to request that we develope such updates.
If you have any further questions or concerns, please contact us again or check www.htcwiki.com as well. We also invite you to participate in our feedback survey at survey.htc.com/worldwide. We enjoy getting feedback from our customers and look forward to hearing from you.

HTC has told us that Rogers has to pay for the firmware upgrade and stated clearly that they will do it if Rogers willing to pay but Rogers kept saying "We are waiting for HTC to make the update available for us"

I posted something about this actually a few days ago on my site.
It was the argument of open vs closed but from the perspective of breaking your phone in order to extend it (jailbreak) vs having something completely open from the get go (nexus one) vs something with an open app store like the android platform for carriers (tmobile, verizon etc)
what i think it comes down to is the control a company can have over its products.
HTC puts out several phones a year and i guess they are chosing not to have R&D go into the older models of phones... Whereas even the iPhone 2G can now have a legal to purchase appstore video camera added to it.
So closed source wins in this case i suppose, right?

This ONLY effects non-google branded Dream/Magic handsets. For example, the millions of Dream(G1)/Magic(MyTouch3g) T-Mobile users worldwide aren't affected by this, and already have Android 1.6 with expectations of 2.1 coming soon.
Ahh iphone fankids. You never disappoint.

Steven, I don't think so. I had a long conversation with one of the HTC employee who have been work there for many years. What he told me was rather shocking. He said that Rogers never once wants to pay for their firmware upgrade for their HTC windows mobile device eventhough HTC has it available. He said that HTC cannot release the firmware unless Rogers pays and approves it.

@Steven - It's not HTC's fault, genius. They've got a 1.6 release that's on their website. They're working on 2.1 for their Sense phones.
Rogers (ie the carrier, you know, like ATT in America) is limiting the functionality of the hardware by not pushing the software updates. Sound familiar?

If I'm not mistaken...apps that don't work with your OS version are seeded out of the Market are they not? That I'm not sure of...but I know for some apps, they are seeded out if they are not compatible with your device.
As far as the HTC statement. Could you provide a link? I'm having a hard time seeing where HTC or Rogers has explicitly said they will not be doing 2.x for these phones. Only thing said so far is no 1.6.
Also my main points of this whole thing were as follows.
1.) 1.5 -> 1.6 offers no BIG changes. To some that may be a big hit. But to the AVERAGE user, it's not. Smartphones aren't just for the smart-inclined anymore. So yes...you have average phone users buying these.
2.) It's stated in this post that it's Roger's, Google's and HTC's fault. That's incorrect...only one at fault here is Rogers. Google has made the 1.6 available for all Android devices. HTC has made it readily available for unlocked devices and such not running Sense. Rogers is the one not allowing the it to happen.
3.)This only speaks on the future of it not having 1.6. I still have not seen anything confirming no 2.x.
Remember...they all said G1 wasn't going to get 1.6...yet here we are. It said it wouldn't have the Maps Nav. Yet here we are. Everything is always said...but until it's concrete, it's just not concrete. When I see the official statement saying no 2.x upgrade. Then that's when it should fly. 1.5 -> 2.x is a major upgrade and much needed. That would be a slap in the face. Although, like one said in the forums you provided a link to (I actually read some)...it seems they're trying to get rid of that stock anyways. So that could possibly mean they are about to discontinue it in turn for better phones (X10 did get Rogers bands...). Nobody knows. Beyond not getting 1.6 everything is speculation and hearsay.

HTC is not a blame. They have 1.5, 1.6, and currently 2.0-2.1 in their stable and working on a release. This is all Rogers.
HTC is continuing their support for older models (especially since they are still the dev phones). So that's not an issue...as of yet.

iDavey, we all know that if T-mobile does not push out 2.x to their customers, that will be the end of G1/Dream/Touch/magic's life. Rogers also stated very clearly that they will not offer any version upgrade as long as the phone is functioning properly but they will only release patches update. Does it sound optimistic to you?

Very simple
HTC very well know that if they sell HTC branded phone, consumer may get stuck with the firmware if carrier chooses not pay for the update.
Google should set a rule that if you going to run my os, make sure that everyone else is on the plain field.

I'm perfectly happy with getting a new iPhone every 2 years. This is the price that I'm willing to pay for the evolment of technology.

that does not surprise me that much.
being from canada, i can recall how the telecom industry there lacks any sort of care for the consumers. there arent that many of them and the way that the canadian government (the Canadian Radio Telecommunications Commission or CRTC) treats competition is abysmal
So if rogers said "we have this device, no one else has it so no one will offer firmware upgrades" then that does not surprise me one bit.
Some canadians told me that in the next year or two the CRTC will allow for ATT/Tmobile/Verizon to access the spectrum in canada.
If that is true i see a great deal of change in canada.
Rogers wont be able to bully people with unfair prices on exclusive phones if ATT and verizon busrt through the door with their own amazing and cheap iphone and droid mimute/data plans.

Rogers seems the greediest telecom company in the world: No paid apps (because I guess they find the Google check not big enough, like this other one in Australia) and now, no firmware upgrade ? What next? No warranty ?

I expect Apple to stop backwards compatibility at some point, perhaps even dropping the 2G as early as 4.0.
But those updates are a huge reason I love my iPhone. How many of us had phones before, with bugs - that just got ignored. "buy the new device" was the only way to get them fixed.
The fact Apple also adds features is the icing on the cake.

It's hard to explain to people who don't understand. First thing they do is "only techie people are the one who wants it".

@Mystic - It's sad seeing ignorant people try to defend their own ignorance by making ad-hominem attacks.
iDavey made very clear points. Anyone who's not blinded by fanboidom should be able to comprehend it. I own both an iPhone (jailbroken) and a G1 (rooted). iDavey is 100% correct.

Eventually the os will not run on the older hardware. Or the kernel will require too much backwards compatable programming to run well on the older hardware.
Expect it to stop working then.
Does apple even sell the 2g directly anymore?

This would be simpler if the actual carrier was not involved in the determination of what went on the actual hardware.
The reason why we are having this argument is that carriers spend too much time trying to control their markets by selling the phones along with the connections. They cause lock-in.
Google is the OS provider, and HTC is the hardware manufacturer. Google has made their OS open source, so HTC should be able to do what they want with their phones and say what can and can't be updated. Rogers should only be like "here's your SIM Card with unlimited data have a nice day."
But since the phones come thru Rogers and rogers has to control their network, they have a say in what goes on the phones. That's wrong.
Apple is far from perfect, but because they are also a large company, and proved their business model in the states, and because other countries don't allow the same level of lock in as the US (though there is still some lock in), Apple is able to strong arm partners by saying "you'll do this, and you'll like it because we'll both make huge piles of money." I'm not saying apple is saintly, it's just that what's in Apple's best interest happens to be in the consumers best interest here. That is, the updates are simple, Apple controls the platform and makes it highly stable, and it's uniform so there aren't problems forking the code or now allowing certain updates on certain handhelds.

And is that supposed to be a crack or something? Cause I'm lost on it if it is. Seeing as I effectively work across all departments within Best Buy. So excuse me if your witty comment was lost on me.

I have had an iPhone once upon a time. Only phone I have not effectively had and used is a Blackberry or Palm.

Rogers, Rogers, Rogers.......
I guess Rogers really does not care to catch on the android wave and support their products they would just rather sell us new phones. Well all this negative publicity in regards to android will cause new users to look elsewhere due to the lack of support and spend their money with another company. I have no desire to support Rogers when they will not even stand by their own products.
It is very baffling why Rogers would not support the HTC Dream / Magic and update to version 1.6 and eventually 2.0 and so on. Android is the fastest growing market in smart phones and leaving their customers with old OS will ensure that Canada lags behind in Android support.
Well all the blame cannot go to Rogers either cause at the end of the day this is a HTC phone and is obvious they just want to sell handsets but by allowing carriers to not provide updates for the phones they certainly are hurting their image and will cause android users to look at others brands as well.
Google, Google, Google
Great OS but.......You need to learn a thing or two from the iphone and that you need to rollout these updates across the board on these phones just not ones you brand and make. Failing to do so is a major mistake and will cost you in the long run. While android may be taking off and getting a larger market share how do you think the sales are going to be in a few years when android owners are tired of being handcuffed from the carriers and manufactures of your phones by poor support....I love my android phone but i tell you a unlocked iphone is looking allot more attractive to me specially in the long run....Having updates for the android is what makes the Google experience much richer and with carriers not supporting 1.6 or 2.0 android is sure to upset many customers as it has done in Canada already.
In the mean time putting pressure on Rogers and all the negative press they are going to receive on this and loss of revenue may force their hands to actually do something about it instead of responding with their generic corporate responses.
If need be the Android users of Rogers who have the HTC Dream, Magic and EVE will pursue this diligently.
All i have to say is thank god my contract is up this summer ....Nexus One, Wind, Dave, Public Mobile will all get a chance to get my money since Rogers has proven all they care about is your money not customer satisfaction.
To educate yourself more on this topic and find out all that has been done and said by the customers, Rogers, HTC regarding Android updates for Canadian users please read the forums.

There was an article a week or so ago about how the Nexus One is Google's response to Android's fragmentation. As that article argued, there is very little reason for the phone manufacturer to update a phone OS once the phone has been sold. The fact that Apple takes responsibility for updating the iPhone OS to such a great degree is an unusual arrangement -- and I think some of the tension around the networking firmware update of 2008 between Apple and AT&T resulted from that fact. I used to own a WM HTC phone that was released by every carrier in the U.S. under a different name using slightly different firmware, and the forum activity regarding that phone was mostly about finding different ROMs with more advanced features than the ROM that came with your phone. We're seeing that stuff now, with Droid getting the European version with multitouch hack, Google Navigator getting hacked into Android 1.6, and so forth.
Anyway, Google can't do anything about the fact that phone manufacturers can use one version of Android and never update it after that point. So the Nexus One is a way for Google to emulate the iPhone model: hardware and software will both be under Google's control.
As far as the iPhone, there's already fragmentation in the App Store, especially affecting the original iPhone and iPod Touch; but it also affects the current versions because of the hardware differences between the iPhone 3G and 3GS, and the iPod Touch. It will be interesting to see how Apple handles the next model of the iPhone while it tries to support the previous models. Even the simplest changes like bumping the screen res up to 800x480 will create fragmentation. And yet, Apple is definitely going to have to do something with the next model. There's a new video of the Nexus One out today, and it looks like the fastest phone interface and mobile browsing experience I've ever seen.

Why would the phone company want to update their phones when they can sell you a upgraded version in two years or sooner. It's a generation than can't wait for the newest and greatest.

The cause of this problem is the htc upgrades to the phone the custom ui. This s htcs problem not gooogles. He man reason I won even look at an htc android devce.

Neither of those phones use HTC custom UI Tim, they are both stock Android. HTC is upgrading their Sense UI phones to 2.1.

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