Android Smartphone Updates En Route

Android system updates head out this week to the Motorola Xoom tablet, the Samsung Galaxy Nexus, the Lumia 800, and other smartphones. Is your device on the list?
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Significant system updates for smartphones arrive sporadically, and are often confined to just one or two devices. This week, a number of updates are being pushed out. Is your device up the update list? Here is what you need to know.

First, Google is pushing a minor system update to the GSM/UMTS/HSPA+ variants of the Samsung Galaxy Nexus and Nexus S. According to Google, Android 4.0.4 Ice Cream Sandwich adds stability improvements, better camera performance, smoother screen rotation, improved phone number recognition, and more. This same update is also being pushed to the Motorola tablet.

The Galaxy Nexus shipped with Android 4.0 on board. The others did not, but are the only devices officially updated by Google from Android 2.3 to Android 4.0. The list of devices updated to the most recent version of Android continues to be pathetic.

[ What is the status of Android in the marketplace? Read Android To Surpass Windows By 2016: IDC. ]

Samsung said it is pushing an Ice Cream Sandwich-esque update to its line of original Galaxy S smartphones. Rather than boost the version number from Android 2.3 to Android 4.0, this update installs a number of Android 4.0's best features on the Galaxy S. The new features include: Face Unlock, the ability to snap pictures while shooting video, and improvements to the launcher.

This update is mostly for international variants of the Galaxy S. It is unknown if U.S. network operators will offer this update, but I wouldn't count on it, as the original Galaxy S is now nearly two years old.

Of all the updates being pushed out this week, the one for Nokia's Lumia 800 is probably the most significant. Why? It fixes battery performance.

Nokia said the update is being offered to most non-branded Lumia 800 phones (i.e., ones not sold by carriers) this week. The update is being rolled out in batches over the next four weeks. Nokia doesn't quite know when carriers will get around to approving the update for dispersal to their subscribers.

The update provides a significant improvement to battery life, which has been a sore point with Lumia 800 owners. Along with boosting battery performance, Nokia made enhancements to the bass in the audio so that the 800 provides better quality in voice calls and with Nokia Music. Nokia also changed the behavior of the soft keys, making sure they illuminate at all brightness levels settings.

The last bit of good news comes to owners of the LG Thrill, sort of. AT&T recently announced that it is going to update the Thrill from (groan) Android 2.2 Froyo to Android 2.3 Gingerbread. This means Thrill owners will trade their early 2010-era system software for a late-2010 system.


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