Last year at Ausdroid we took the opportunity to approach our three major telecommunications companies – Telstra, Vodafone and Optus – about their software update processes. We had a great talk with Kieran Mcilwain from Vodafone on episode 30 of our podcast and interviewed Craig Ruhan from Telstra. The one carrier we haven’t spoken to is Optus.
I first approached Optus about interviewing their Software Updates manager on the 8th of August last year, and they advised they would see what they could do. There was some back and forth, but Optus was unable to arrange a face to face interview with a Software Update Manager.
Optus recently re-launched their ‘Yes’ branding campaign, and in the spirit of the ‘Yes’ fervour coming from Optus, I broached the subject again. This this time I managed to speak to Melissa Circosta, Public Relations Manager, Optus, who advised in early July, Optus had lost their Head of Devices, who as far as we are aware (at time of writing) has not been replaced.
The process of receiving, testing and approving updates has continued unabated. Updates such as the HTC One 4.2.2 update and a Maintenance release for the Galaxy S4 have been rolled out to Optus customers just recently, so the team at Optus is still working quite hard, but there is a distinct lack of communication to their customers of these updates.
As an interim solution until a new Head of Devices is appointed, to try and get any information out of Optus and de-mystify the software update process, I supplied a set of questions we’d like answered, and Optus offered to answer them as best they could.
You can judge the results for yourself.[n1]Ausdroid[/n1] [ques]What testing Optus does with relation to each update? How long the Optus testing cycle is for each update?[/ques] [n2]Optus[/n2][ans]Optus’ testing process varies, depending on the software and the extent of the update.[/ans] [n1]Ausdroid[/n1] [ques] What the Optus stance is on things such as Rooting/ROMs?[/ques] [n2]Optus[/n2][ans] Optus does not encourage or support the rooting or flashing of devices, as the user experience may vary significantly as a result. [/ans] [n1]Ausdroid[/n1] [ques] How Optus sources updates? From where and do they request updates for their devices etc?[/ques] [n2]Optus[/n2][ans]Updates are generally provided by the device manufacturer. Like most carriers, Optus software variants have additional features and apps that provide added functionality or further enhance the user experience – hence the availability of an Optus-variant upgrade after the generic OS upgrade. [/ans] [n1]Ausdroid[/n1] [ques] Maintenance/security updates vs OS Upgrades, is there a difference in testing procedures. i.e do Security updates get special treatment? [/ques] [n2]Optus[/n2][ans] Optus maintains a set of testing criteria with each software release. Depending on the supplier’s advice accompanying the software change (often in the form of official release note), Optus arranges additional testing accordingly.
I then advised I would like further information in the way that Optus communicates their update availability to customers. Vodafone is a shining example of how to do it right, updating their blog on a weekly basis with all the updates available in testing and approved or otherwise, Telstra too maintains a fairly constant stream of updates through their Crowd Support forum keeping customers up to date and answering threads in the forums.
Optus, on the other hand, have what can only be described as an abysmal record of communicating software updates to customers. Currently, Optus ‘maintains’ a software update page, which at this stage carries no dates or relevant information helpful to customers looking for information on whether an update is being tested or been approved and when to expect it. Indeed, customers are actually pointed towards the Optus Community Forums, which is a hotbed of customers looking for answers with none being offered from their carrier.
Optus responded to the query regarding the update with :
[n2]Optus[/n2][ans]Optus is currently reviewing its communication process to proactively keep customers informed on software updates.[/ans]
In today’s Smartphone savvy market, customers are more and more aware that there is an update coming or expected for their model of phone. Gone are the days of dumb phones which could receive no extra functionality from a software upgrade.
These days, Google, Apple and even Microsoft can add features to handsets running their mobile OS to greatly enhance them and carriers insist on testing them to maintain standards and ensure that safety is from with the updates – and that’s fine – but when customers have no communication with regards to the availability of those updates, this makes for frustrated users and at this stage, with that non-specific answer regarding update notifications, Optus are going to be looking at more and more frustrated customers.
It’s a process. We hope to speak to the Head of Devices at Optus for a more in-depth look at the software update process for Optus branded handsets, whenever a person is appointed to the role – we hope it won’t take too long.
How important is communication regarding the availability of software updates for your phone to you?