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ICS updates slowed by complex hardware, says Motorola exec

An executive at Motorola has gone on record as saying complicated hardware is the reason Android updates are taking so long.

Frustrated the latest version of Android is taking an age to come to your phone? Don't blame Google, or even the manufacturer for putting its own UI on top of the Android operating system. No, the complexity of modern hardware is to blame. According to a Motorola executive, that is.

Christy Wyatt, senior vice president and general manager of Motorola's Enterprise Business Unit, told PC Mag: "When Google does a release of the software... they do a version of the software for whatever phone they just shipped. The rest of the ecosystem doesn't see it until you see it.

"Hardware is the long pole in the tent, with multiple chipsets and multiple radio bands for multiple countries. It's a big machine to churn."

She went on to describe the process of upgrading the software, saying it's complicated. First comes hardware support, then the layering in of custom software from manufacturers, and then the phone has to be re-certified by the networks, which adds time.

Fine, we can get on board with all that. But it's still down to Google, isn't it? It doesn't have to release the code at the same time as the latest Nexus phone, it could release it earlier. The whole operation could also be much better handled in terms of setting users' expectations.

Wyatt wouldn't be drawn on exactly when Moto's handsets will get the jump to Ice Cream Sandwich. "I would have to know that every single operator I have is going to want to upgrade every single product, and sometimes they'll want to control the timing," she said. "It's just not easy to make that blanket statement."

Motorola announced it was "planning on upgrading as many of our phones as possible" in a blog post in December. It listed the Razr, Xoom and Droid Bionic, though there's a full list here. Seeing as Google is acquiring Motorola, we'd expect it to update ahead of everyone else. HTC announced its Sensation range will get ICS in the next six weeks, with the Desire line following later in the year. Sony also announced all its Xperias will upgrade.

Are you fed up of waiting for Ice Cream Sandwich? Let us know your experiences on our Facebook page, or below in the comments.