Motorola Android phones not getting Ice Cream Sandwich until second half of year

Being owned by Google apparently won't help Motorola get its devices upgraded to Android 4.0

Being owned by Google apparently won't help Motorola get its devices upgraded to Android 4.0 ("Ice Cream Sandwich") any more quickly.

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In a software upgrade guidance statement released today, Motorola said that none of its Android-based smartphones available in the United States would be upgraded to Ice Cream Sandwich until the third quarter of 2012 at the earliest. The company has slated its Atrix 4G MB860 and Photon 4G models to receive an upgrade to Ice Cream Sandwich in the third quarter of 2012, along with its Xboard and Xboard 10.1 tablet models. Other big-name Motorola Android phones, including the Droid 4, the Droid Bionic, the Droid Razr and the Droid Razr Maxx, are still in the planning and development stages for their Ice Cream Sandwich upgrades and thus have no timetable.

The only Motorola Android device available in the U.S. to currently have Ice Cream Sandwich installed is the Wi-Fi-only version of Motorola's Xoom tablet. Several countries around the world, including China, Canada and Japan, are slated to have their Motorola Razr devices upgraded to Ice Cream Sandwich in the second quarter of 2012 despite the fact that American users will have to wait until the following quarter.

Ice Cream Sandwich is the first edition of Google's open-source Android mobile platform that has been optimized for both tablets and smartphones. Google developed the platform to unite Android on both form factors and thus give application developers assurance that they can develop applications for Android that will perform consistently over different types of devices. In addition, the operating system came with several new features including a lock screen that can unlock using facial recognition software; Android Beam, technology that lets users send contact information, directions, Web pages and more via NFC by tapping their phones together; and integration with the Google+ social network that lets users host online video chats among their circles of friends.

Google, which first launched Android as an open-source mobile operating system in 2007, won approval from regulators in the United States and the European Union this week to acquire Motorola for $12.5 billion. One of Google's chief objectives in the Motorola deal was to shore up its patent portfolio to protect Android device manufacturers from patent suits filed by Microsoft, Apple and other tech heavyweights. Google has said that despite Motorola's extensive inventory of Android-based devices, it plans on running the company as a separate business and not merely an extension of Google's mobile division.

"This acquisition will not change our commitment to run Android as an open platform," Google CEO Larry Page emphasized when discussing the deal last year. "Motorola will remain a licensee of Android and Android will remain open. We will run Motorola as a separate business. Many hardware partners have contributed to Android's success and we look forward to continuing to work with all of them to deliver outstanding user experiences."

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