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There are many parties involved in an Android phone. My question is who is responsible for the OTA updates of my phone. Is it the manufacturer, the phone service provider or Google?

I thought this answer could be answered generally but maybe not. My phone is the Galaxy Nexus i9250 witch is manufactured by Samsung.

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Can you re-edit your question to include what carrier/handset you're with? –  t0mm13b Jul 10 '12 at 20:54
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4 Answers

I like pretty pictures (visual learner) so I tried to combine the other answers into a generalized graphic:

If anyone has any issues with this, point them out in a comment and I will update accordingly.

enter image description here

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With the Galaxy Nexus it's sometimes tricky to tell who is responsible for the updates. There are (at least) four different variants of the GSM/HSPA device and one CDMA device.

GSM/HSPA:

  • yakju
  • takju
  • yakjuxw
  • yakjukr

CDMA:

  • mysid

There used to be an app in the Play Store which could tell if your updates come from Samsung or Google, but it's been removed for some reason. As far as I can tell, yakju and takju get the updates directly from Google, and other variants get them from Samsung or operators.

This is why I flashed my yakjuxw device with the takju ROM, no more delays from Samsung.

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The manufacturer is responsible for the Android updates (not only if it's an OTA Update).

But some carrier branded phones receive a different firmware as the unbranded ones because of custom carrier modifications, like removing the WiFi tether feature. Therefore a delay for an update can also be caused by the carrier. Usually you will see an update first on unbranded devices and maybe later for the carrier branded ones. But there have also been cases where the carrier released an update that wasn't released officially for unbranded devices (IIRC a Samsung device in the UK got 2.3 before it was officially released by Samsung).

To sum up: The main responsibility lies with the manufacturers but the carriers have a word to say too. Which is IMHO a bad thing, that's why I prefer unbranded devices.

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The carriers don't just have a say. The carriers are often the gatekeeper for the public release. The big carriers all have their own labs that test the builds, often for weeks at a time, before they allow the OTA to go out. –  Eric Cloninger Jul 20 '12 at 19:37
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If your handset is Google Nexus, then yes, Google pushes out the OTA updates.

The rest is down to the carriers, depending on who you are with, what handset you have.

Edit: Added more thought for clarity.

Some may not roll out the OTA updates, its all dependent on the market, region. I am with O2, and never get any OTA updates what-so-ever. Some manufacturers do include a 'PC companion' suite that accompanies the handset and it is through that pc companion suite, that there may be a "firmware" update that is independant of the carrier used. That would be an exception to the rule, although the trend seems to be, to "use the official manufacturer's handset companion software for Windows" and to check on that regularly.

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Some devices get the updates from Samsung instead of Google or carriers. –  onik Jul 20 '12 at 19:36
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I really want the new 4.1 update. So who is responsible for me getting it. From what I can tell Google has released the official update but i have not gotten it to my phone. –  Anders Jul 20 '12 at 22:54
    
Try this: a mate of mine in Ireland, he recently bought a Nexus which had ICS, and learnt that by going into Settings > Applications, look for running apps called Google Framework Services or similar, tap that, > clear data, you might have to do it a few times, eventually the update pushes through, fwiw, my mate, he was on vodafone ireland, and had to do it several times... –  t0mm13b Jul 21 '12 at 1:17
    
@Anders You probably have a Nexus that's not getting updates directly from Google. Check my other posts (shameless self-promotion) for info on how to detemine which variant you have and how to update (might void your warranty). –  onik Jul 21 '12 at 1:31
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