Apple has infamously railed on Google for being fragmented on multiple occasions, lambasting the Android-maker for allowing carriers and handset manufacturers to dictate the terms of updating the Android software.
Cupertino was right to criticize: the vast majority of Android smartphone users couldn’t even be reasonably sure before now that they’d even be able to update their operating system in the future. But Google’s made a big step today towards addressing Android fragmentation: they’ve announced a partnership with carriers and handset manufacturers that guarantees that new smartphones will receive Android platform updates for a minimum of eighteen months.
“If hardware allows,” Google ominously promises, anyone who buys an Android smartphone through a list of partners including Verizon, AT&T, Vodafone, Samsung, HTC, Sprint, LG, T-Mobile, Motorola, Sony Ericsson and more will be able to depend upon platform updates and system patches for a year and a half after release, and possibly longer.
Of course, “if hardware allows” is a big weasel term, but still, the spirit behind this promise is well-intentioned, and it’s nice to see Google no longer try to wave the problem away: Android fragmentation is a problem, we’re aware of it, and we’re making a pledge to you that if you buy one of our phones, it’ll be kept up-to-date through the term of your contract. Good on you, Google.