Updated: Your Verizon Galaxy Nexus almost lost its Nexus

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Updated. The Verizon Galaxy Nexus LTE handset is reportedly no longer a Google-supported developer phone, which could have software update implications. Droid-Life has some screen shots indicating that the CDMA Galaxy Nexus — and as well as Sprint’s Nexus S — no longer appear on Google’s page showing how to get devices into fastboot mode. This mode is used to lock down the phone’s software.

I hit up some web pages that I recently bookmarked to help me flash images on my GSM Galaxy Nexus and I can validate what Droid-Life is seeing. The CDMA stock images for the Galaxy Nexus, for example now show a status of “archived, for reference only.”

I’m reaching out to sources to see what this means, because it could imply nothing more than the removal of developer options in the Settings screen of the CDMA Galaxy Nexus. But if not, I wonder if this is Verizon’s effort to gain complete control over the software on its Galaxy Nexus. It’s worth recalling that Verizon was expected to get the original Nexus One, but that never happened and no explanation was ever provided. It’s not a stretch to think that a control issue at that time entered into the situation.

The other possibility here is that this is related to Google Wallet and Verizon’s push for its own mobile payment solution in Isis. A Google statement provided to The Verge indicates this to be the case. If Verizon does have ownership over the Galaxy Nexus software, the handsets could lose a key advantage: Gaining the most recent software updates before other phones. That attribute is a key selling point of the Galaxy Nexus and if this does happen, I’m sure current owners of the smartphone will be upset.

Update: On a Google Groups page for Android Contributors, the following clarification was written after this post:

For various technical reasons, recent CDMA Android devices implement core telephony functionality in .apk files provided in binary form by the carriers. To function correctly, these .apk files must be signed by the so-called “platform” key. However, when an individual creates a custom build from the AOSP source code, they don’t use the same signing key as these CDMA flies were signed with.

The result is that these files don’t work properly, and pure AOSP builds running on these devices can’t place calls, access mobile data, and so on. Because we aim to make sure that we are as clear as possible about the degree of support that devices have, we updated the docs over atsource.android.com to reflect this reality.
We will still make available as many as possible of the closed-source binaries for these devices, and Nexus devices will continue to have unlockable bootloaders. And, of course, GSM/HSPA+ devices are still supported, as are any other devices we’re able to support. We’ve simply updated the documentation to be clearer about the current extent of CDMA support.
So this doesn’t appear to be an issue with Google Wallet or a wresting of control; it’s more of a clarification on CDMA support for Nexus phones. Whew!

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