Android Mobile Software Update FAQ

, posted: 2-Aug-2012 16:21

We wanted to give some background on software updates we roll out to our Android handsets. We often field complaints that our update process is slower than expected, so we wanted to lift the lid and explain the approach we take.

Why test updates, can’t you just release them?
We won’t push any software updates out to customers that aren’t 100% tested and working on the smartphonetwork.

In a nut shell, we believe that thoroughly and rigorously testing software updates means a better customer experience, with less issues. It also means:
  • Bugs in your mobile can be avoided
  • We minimise the number of phones returned to our service centre for repairs(half of all handset returns are for software issues)
  • You’re less likely to need to call us for help
We work with handset manufacturers in the testing process – it’s a very honest working relationship. Telecom, the particular handset manufacturer, and Google, in their role as Android developers, are all part of the approval and sign off processes for each software update.

Why does testing take so long?
The first step is obtaining a stable version of the software from the handset manufacturer to test. Early versions of software releases are often developer-orientated, and whilst contain new feature can contain a number of bugs. There are times during our testing processes that we identify issues that are likely to give customers an unsatisfactory experience. When this occurs we notify the handset manufacturer and wait until a resolution is available.

We only reject software if testing shows it’s likely to impact our customers or the network. That said, the true test of course is when it’s in customer hands – everyone uses their smartphone differently.

What’s involved in testing?
We receive a test version of the software update after the manufacturer has carried out their internal quality checks. We then run a full set-up of tests, concentrating on the defects the software is resolving. We will then run a regression suite of tests to ensure that no new issues have been introduced.

Once we approve the software the manufacturer will then forward the software through to Google for approval. If it passes Google approval, the manufacturer then needs to load it on to their servers.

Aren’t you holding updates back to get us to buy new phones?
We believe the latest software is the best, as it improves the handset’s performance, and the experience the customer will have with it. We have never held back an available update for any other reason than the release failed our testing programme and the manufacturer was unable to resolve this. This would have translated into a substandard customer experience.

But this software is already out overseas, what’s the hold up?
Every mobile network is different – we think it’s important to test software updates on our own network, in our own conditions, to give our customers the best experience we can. There are also time where our testing has identified issues that other networks have missed and are subsequently having customer issues.

What’s Telecom’s position on unofficial builds?
Most manufacturers make open software updates available at roughly the same time they become available to network operators like ourselves. The open updates don’t go through the same network testing programmes, and are therefore available a little sooner, but with the trade off of not being fully tested on the network you’re using it on.

While some customers are comfortable taking software updates from ROM sites, we have seen some issues with ‘unofficial’ builds, and recommend waiting for the release from your network operator.

Aren’t you just filling your handsets with bloatware?
Our customisation is a very small part of the software updates and it is extremely rare that these delay the release of software. We add:
  • Settings ie Access Point Name (a network identifier)
  • A bookmark in the app menu to Your Telecom
  • A Yahoo! icon on the stock Android browser
  • Four bookmarks in the browser
  • Start up and shut down screens (not on all phones)
…but not all of these customisations go on every handset we release. We’ve reduced the amount of customisation and changes we make to software significantly in the last few years, both cosmetically and under the hood.

With modern smartphones, the user is in control, and can change the apps or appearance as they wish (a factory reset will restore these settings of course). The much criticised browser icon on the Samsung GALAXY SIII was just that – an icon change, as a branding exercise, and exists on the majority of our Android handsets.

About the author
Richard Irvine is Telecom New Zealand's Social Media Manager. You can contact him through Telecom New Zealand's Official Twitter account.



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Telecom New Zealand
Auckland
New Zealand


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