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Sunday, January 23, 2011

Froyo update for the Samsung Vibrant

After much weeping and lamenting by Samsung users, the first of the Galaxy S phones in the US is finally receiving the long awaited Froyo update. To recap, all of the US carriers have their own version of the Galaxy S (Vibrant on T-Mobile, Captivate on AT&T, Fascinate on Verizon, and Epic on Sprint) and all of them launched running Android 2.1, Eclair.

The US variants of the Galaxy S all launched last summer, shortly after Froyo was made available, and Samsung stated that updates would be provided. Now, seven months after google released the Froyo source code to manufacturers, the first of the Galaxy S devices in the US is receiving an update.

Leading up to this release, lots and lots of conspiracy theories were flying around, and even one threat to file a class action lawsuit due to lack of any comment on Samsung's part.

It's worth noting that the Froyo update is significant both for the drastic speed improvements it offers, and because it is required to use Flash, and to run several of the latest applications from Google including Chrome to Phone, new YouTube, YouTube Remote, and new Gmail.

Finally, however, the updates seem to be slowly trickling in with the Vibrant on T-Mobile being the first to receive it. Vibrant owners can update their device right now by using the Samsung Kies Mini desktop application. This requires installing the application, connecting the phone to your computer, and updating it manually. DroidDog has a good set of instructions for this.

Sprint has also since come forward stating that they are still working on the Froyo update for the Epic, while Verizon and AT&T have said nothing about Froyo updates for their respective devices. Sprint, T-Mobile, and Samsung have all said at various points that the delay is largely due to Samsung trying to make their custom skin, called TouchWiz, work properly with Froyo.

This is ridiculous, but not all that unexpected. Samsung has pulled this exact stunt before with software updates for phones. But when the Galaxy S line was announced, everyone assumed that things would be different, since the Galaxy S was to be their flagship phone around the world. That clearly isn't the case as Samsung is back to their old tricks yet again. Not only that, but this update is only going to people who physically plug their phone into their computers, meaning thousands of people will never even know it exists.

And what about future updates? The Galaxy S2 is rumored to be announced next month, and that will obviously take the place of all the existing Galaxy S devices. So will the existing phones ever be updated to Gingerbread, which has been out for over a month already itself? To be honest, I don't expect the Vibrant, et al to ever see 2.3 and beyond. It's sad, really. The Galaxy S line has been Samsung's best selling line of smartphones ever and they're not taking care of their customers the way other manufacturers are.

Sigh. I am just tired of the attitude manufacturers have taken with Android. They'll come out with a gazillion new and amazing phones, get people to buy them, and then a month or two later treat them like they're yesterday's garbage. It seriously needs to stop. Froyo has been out forever, and the fact that it's big news that the Galaxy S series is finally getting them is just sad. And Ryan's right, so few people are even going to know about it because it's a manual install. Samsung is on an ever lengthening list of manufacturers I won't buy phones from, because of things like this. Plus, this gives consumers one more reason to be wary of phones with custom skins--it will just take that much longer to ever receive an update. There isn't any skin that's cooler than the changes a new update would bring.

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