It’s rumored that Android 2.1, the OS that debuted on the Google Nexus One, will be available for all Android devices. Whether such an update can be mandated across the board for all devices, or only the “with Google” stock Android handsets is unknown at this time, but if it is required for all devices, hardware manufacturers may not be pleased as non-stock Android handsets have custom UI layers (such as Sense UI or MOTO BLUR) that need to be updated as well with changes to the underlying OS.
If Google does in fact force the update to Android 2.1 on its carrier and manufacturer partners, the move can be seen as keeping Android less fragmented–something we’ve seen on the Windows Mobile side as not all devices receive updates when Microsoft upgrades its mobile operating system, though that situation may change as Microsoft may be tightening the reigns with Windows Phone 7 Series. Google Android devices now have varying hardware, screen resolutions, and form factors making a timely update across the board an act that requires the will of carriers, manufacturers, and a little bit of luck so that consumers don’t mess up the process and brick their devices in the process.
According to the rumors, select devices will be able to perform the update OTA, some will require users to be tethered to a computer to perform the upgrade to 2.1, while others may have to wipe their devices of personal information in a process not un-similar to Windows Mobile OS upgrades. With Android, though, wiping a device may not be too bad as the Android OS ties in nicely with Google’s services, allowing an easy restore of contacts, emails, and calendar appointments for those who subscribe to and use the free Google services.
Though phones may receive upgrades, not all of Android 2.1 features will be available to all, such as animated wallpapers. Those features will probably be more dependent on Google’s partners to implement and whether early generation hardware–processors–can handle the features without compromises to speed, usability, and battery life.
(via: Android and Me)