That’s a Start: AT&T’s 2011 Android Phones Will Get Gingerbread

By  |  Monday, July 25, 2011 at 5:01 pm

AT&T is now trying to do right by Android by upgrading all 2011 phones to Android 2.3, also known as Gingerbread.

The upgrades start today with Motorola’s Atrix 4G, followed by HTC’s Inspire 4G in a few weeks. Also on the update list are LG’s Phoenix, Pantech’s Crossover and Samsung’s Infuse 4G. The Samsung Captivate, which launched last year, will get the update as well.

Gingerbread is the latest version of Google’s Android OS for smartphones, and includes improvements to the software’s keyboard, text selection and power management. A minor update for Gingerbread phones with front-facing cameras also added native video chat through Google Talk.

This is a significant development for Android, which is notorious for inconsistent software updates that can cause app compatibility issues — Skype video chat, for instance, only supports Android 2.3 handsets for now — and generally depriving users of the latest features. It’s fairly common to see carriers promise updates for individual handsets, but I can’t recall any wireless carrier vowing to bring all of its recent smartphones up to date.

For Google, however, there’s still a lot more to be done. In May, the company announced an ambitious plan to ensure 18 months of updates for all Android handsets, working with several leading handset makers and all four major U.S. wireless carriers. It’s unclear when this effort will begin or how Google will execute it. Presumably, AT&T’s commitment isn’t part of the plan — if it was, I’d expect to see an announcement from Google — but at least it shows some willingness to support the software even after the customer has paid for the phone and signed a contract.

 
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13 Comments For This Post

  1. Gouthaman K Says:

    Actually, Skype works on my HTC Desire running FroYo.

  2. MJPollard Says:

    I have the Atrix, and the Gingerbread update was actually released over the weekend. So far, so good; my update went smoothly, and I’ve already seen better battery life than I had under Froyo. To be honest, I could do without Motorola’s “Blur” crap all over the place, but other than that, I’m quite satisfied. Gingerbread has given my Atrix new life.

    One of the enhancements that wasn’t mentioned in the article: with Gingerbread, AT&T reversed its longstanding policy and now allows non-Market apps to be installed without having to jump through “hacking hoops” to do it. (You have to enable this in Settings, though; it’s disabled by default.) That means people finally have access to places like the Amazon App Store, and presumably others, giving users a wider choice of apps to choose from.

    My overall impression? Gingerbread = WIN! Now, let’s see what happens when Ice Cream Sandwich comes out. :-)

  3. Jared Newman Says:

    Eek. I meant to write "Skype video chat" but accidentally got rid of that part while editing. Fixed now.

  4. Jared Newman Says:

    AT&T had actually announced the change to its non-Market apps policy a couple months ago, but only for forthcoming phones. Glad to hear they added that capability to the Atrix.

    Re: Blur, have you considered an alternate launcher like GO Launcher EX or Launcher Pro?

  5. Charles Forsythe Says:

    "Gingerbread [2.3] is the latest version of Google’s Android OS"

    Honeycomb [3.2] is the latest version of Android OS.

  6. MJPollard Says:

    @Jared: Way ahead of you on that one. :-) I’ve been using GO Launcher EX for several weeks now, and it’s definitely a step up. I just have having all that Blur crap lurking underneath, like Bruce waiting for Chrissy Watkins to go skinny dipping. But, since it’s mostly invisible, I guess I’m not *too* worried about it.

    I remember the article about the non-Market change. I just figured it was worth mentioning that exiting phones like the Atrix which are getting the Gingerbread update will be getting this as well. (The Atrix got it, thus I don’t see any reason why the other phones on the Gingerbread upgrade path won’t be getting it as well.) It doesn’t overly affect me all that much, to be honest, but I know it’s important for a lot of people, judging by the number of people I see rooting their Froyo phones just to get this capability.

  7. MJPollard Says:

    @Charles: Further correction: Gingerbread is the latest version of Android for phones; Honeycomb is the latest version of Android for tablets; the upcoming Ice Cream Sandwich is supposed to unify both code bases. At least, that’s what I understand; I’m rather new to all this behind the scenes Android stuff. :-)

  8. Jared Newman Says:

    I can't win today (or yesterday, as it were). Added "for smartphones" to clarify.

  9. Sandi Says:

    Does this upgrade automaticallly happen or do you have to seek it out?

  10. MJPollard Says:

    You should receive an automatic notification about it. Me, I manually checked for the upgrade as soon as I read on another forum that it was finally available. I’m not the world’s most patient guy. :-)

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  13. Marc Says:

    Gingerbread 2.3.5, Samsung Galaxy S II Skyrocket, AT&T 4G – Google Talk VIDEO not allowed on AT&T 4G network, video only via WiFi. Is anyone successfully using Google Talk VIDEO on AT&T 4G? AT&T Support will not admit AT&T is blocking Google talk VIDEO and insists it is not their issue.