12 June, 2014

Nexus or Nothing: 2012's AT&T upgrade catch-22 that made me get an (old) iPhone

Alright, let's be clear: As much as I love Google, there are some things about carriers, and AT&T in particular, in regards to lack of timely mobile OS updates, that really, really, REALLY piss me off. That was totally true from 2010-2012, i.e. the Moto Flipside years. My phone was stuck on FROYO, of all operating systems, despite Jelly Bean already being out in 2012. So, when I was finally eligible for an upgrade, I was, temporarily, ecstatic about a mobile device upgrade when I learned that a phone AT&T was already carrying ― the LG Optimus G ― was going to serve as the basis for what would turn out to be the Nexus 4, so I thought, 'Maybe AT&T will offer the Nexus 4 as well'. Man, was I wrong!

There were indeed a few options, including the Atrix HD, that first looked like they might work... ah, but wait, despite the Atrix HD being on ICS at the time of the upgrade in 2012, it wasn't scheduled to even get Jelly Bean MR0 (let alone MR1, which is what the Nexus 4 had) until 2013, and, if the searches are to be believed, I literally just Googled it a few days ago, and, to my utter dismay, it STILL doesn't have KitKat. And here I thought Motorola (especially as it was under Google's management) was the one vendor who got an A+ on ComputerWorld's Android report card. Yeah, this proves that wrong in a heartbeat... Either AT&T gets an F for timely Android OS updates, or Motorola, when it comes to their AT&T lineup in particular, only gets a B. Not the least bit cool.

The release date came and went. Only T-Mobile was offering the Nexus 4 on contract. Ugh! I was literally, before my parents started seriously bugging me out of it (especially with my mother's retiree discount; she literally worked for AT&T for 31 years prior to 2003 and so is able to get a discounted upgrade price and/or phone bill), on the verge of switching carriers. Then, I thought, 'Wait a minute, even though Google lets carriers and OEMs get in the way of Android upgrades, Apple sure doesn't when it comes to iOS upgrades'. Reluctantly, I gave an iPhone 4S (a year old at the time, thus only being $99 on contract, versus the $299 PLUS a contract I would have had to pay if I got a Nexus 4 since it wasn't an upgrade option) a shot. Ah, at least it's got iOS 7.1 (and will be getting iOS 8 this fall) despite being 3 years old (the same age, believe it or not, as the Flipside was in 2012).

The transition was far from smooth, however. Aside from the iPhone, everything else of mine is Google gear. A Chromebook. A Chromecast. Google apps galore that literally double the space used on this poor little 4S, which performance wise is buckling under the performance stress and losing battery life tremendously. Meanwhile, this Chromebook I'm typing on (an Acer C720-2802) is screaming through an up-to-date version of Chrome OS, and, to the phone's dismay, even the old AC700 prior to last Christmas had outstanding up-to-date Chrome OS performance. Oh, and yeah, despite the plethora of Google content ― including Play Music, which all the major record labels still support ― now available for iOS, there's still some private music vendors ― notably Jesus Culture (and their Reconstructed album ― which, of all things, is precisely what I personally believe normal worship music should be today: Christian dubstep) ― that unfortunately still haven't gotten on the Google Play train, despite how easy it is to get a Play Artist Hub running (as easy as it is for the Dev Portal). And even then, most of these apps (notably Google Now and Google Play Music) only came to iOS in 2013; in 2012, nope, there was absolutely nothing.

Now, of course, it's 2014... which means, in addition to being 3000 miles away from home (SoCal), in Florida, for Christmas this year (thanks to an awesomely generous paternal uncle of mine), it'll also be time for yet another upgrade. According to rumors, it appears the Nexus 6 will be released earlier than most of the others have (at I/O), (update: I/O saw an Apple-style developer beta release of the version of Android that the Nexus 6 is bound to showcase ― release to be in November, according to further updates) not to mention Google's official Android Twitter account seems to have leaked it... ah, but given the overhaul that Project Hera appears to be bringing to Android's most fundamental structure (easily enough API breakage to make it a 5.0 release), nope, not too surprising. According to rumors, it'll be functionally identical to the G3 ― a 13MP camera with 4K recording, along with the same ultra-high-res screen that the G3 has ― yet fundamentally different from a design standpoint. As for carriage, well, let's make some noise in support of AT&T finally being announced as an official (NOT unofficial) carrier at I/O, shall we? Everyone, I'm using this blog to petition AT&T to carry the Nexus 6 for a change. The last Nexus device AT&T carried was the S, so in all honesty, they're LONG overdue for carriage of another one... So, let the blog traffic, the comments, the cries, and the screams begin!