Galaxy S OTA firmware updates

One of the features that became common in the last years is the ability smartphones have to update their own firmware over-the-air (also known as FOTA). This allows the product manufacturer or the carrier to push new versions of the OS to the devices and to add some features or fix some security issues avoiding the need for the customer to connect the phone to the computer.

Some operating systems, like Windows Phone 7, only give a notification to the user (so the user still has to connect the phone to the computer to get the actual update), while others, like Symbian S60v5, allow the phone to download and install the updates all by itself.

Samsung did implement this feature on their last year flagship model, the i9000 Galaxy S. As you can see below the update process is always running using some megabytes of RAM and some CPU cycles:

The problem is that, as far as I know, in Europe, the i9000 Galaxy S has never received an update over-the-air, not even a single “update available” notification. The customer always has to use Samsung’s computer software (called Kies) to get the notification of the update and to be able to download and install it, so I’ve never seen any message other than the following one, stating that there are no updates available.

Samsung could have provided (as other Android manufacturers do) a contextual settings menu to allow the user to disable the update searching feature, so one could turn off the process that is consuming RAM and CPU all the time doing nothing.

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