Want to know why it’s taking so long for KitKat to come to your phone? HTC has made an infographic that sheds light on the update process, and it isn’t as simple as you think.

Android update process
photo: HTC

Ever wonder why it seems to take most phones forever to receive a new version of Android? It turns out the update process is a lot more complicated than you’d imagine. HTC has created a fantastic infographic, detailing the anatomy of an Android update, tracing the steps from a pre-announcement PDK all the way to your phone.

According to HTC, there are no fewer than 12 steps necessary to bring an Android update to a carrier-based device. And though it isn’t mentioned in the graphic, a number of those steps involve waiting for approval from the carrier, which makes a lengthy process even longer. You can get your software faster with a Google Play edition device, or an unlocked or developer phone, but even those updates require seven or eight steps respectively.

Seeing this doesn’t take any of the frustration of waiting months for an update, but it does help to put things into perspective. And kudos to HTC for being relatively transparent about the update process, at least as far as its HTC One Series of phones are concerned. The OEM shows which phone are currently running Android 4.4 KitKat, and where other phones are in the update process. It won’t make those updates come any faster, but at least you’ll know you’re not waiting in vain.


  1. Reblogged this on ExemplarOne and commented:
    I knew it was complex… This is just the high level view of the complexities of embedded software. I’ve written some embedded code myself…

  2. What a coincidence, I just made an infographic of the iOS software update process:
    Apple ————> iPhone

    1. You forget all the that is happening behind the scenes while iOS is in the 6 to 8 months “beta” period.

      1. Not forgetting at all. With Apple beta is beta, no quotes required. The software is not available to the public but if you have a developer account and want to follow along as all the bugs are ironed out of new software I suppose you can. As far as the process of an iOS release is concerned – Apple develops, tests, and certifies an update, then it gets released to all compatible iOS devices. All. At. Once.

        What doesn’t happen is this:
        – New version of iOS is announced and “released”
        – Various carriers take their sweet time certifying the new version for various iOS devices and load in all their special add-ons.
        – Devices receive the update whenever it is ready for them… some faster some slower… and some maybe not at all… Meanwhile users get tired of hearing about a new release that they can’t have and decide to forget the whole thing.

        From a development perspective the first scenario is far better as it leads to a more stable platform… updates happen all at once, and you can plan around them with much more certainty.

  3. “waiting for a approval from the carrier?”

    “a unlocked or developer phone?”

    1. Yikes. Thanks for catching those. All fixed.

  4. Marcos_El_Malo Monday, December 30, 2013

    Twelve steps required to bring an update to a carrier phone?

    The first step is admitting your have a problem!

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