One of the biggest criticisms that Sony Ericsson has faced over its flagship Xperia X10 smartphone is the lengthy delay in upgrading the phone from Android 1.6 to Android 2.1. For all those wondering what the big deal is, Erik Hellman, Senior Software Architect for Android Development at Sony Ericsson has given some insight into the complicated work behind the development process.
You cannot just download the vanilla version of Android and stick it into the handset. They first have to work with their component suppliers (flash memory, displays, and processors) to make sure everything is compatible. To give an example, at the beginning of a project the battery life of a phone may last just half an hour before the OS is optimised.
Then comes the challenge of tailoring Android for your handset. To get things working, changes can sometimes be made to the application layer (without tinkering too much with Android), however in other cases deep root changes within Android itself is required. Sometimes this requires taking advantage of undocumented features of Android which is a risky process as it can cause third-party application compatibility issues.
Then comes the testing phase with at least eleven different types of tests conducted. The last stage is the operator testing, which requires hundreds of hours of continuous operation without any incident. However, this is only part of the story. As Sony Ericsson tweaks Android, changes are sent back to the Android developer team. To date, Sony Ericsson has made 170 changes to the code of which 100 have been incorporated into the vanilla version of Android.
This may give some insight into the challenges the company has faced in upgrading from Android Donut to Éclair. After all, even HTC faced very lengthy delays in upgrading from Cupcake to Éclair for the HTC Hero which caused endless frustration for users (much like us X10 owners). Let’s just hope that there are no more delays and that Sony Ericsson has learned from this experience to provide a greater customer experience next time round.
Via Computer Sweden.