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Red Band's latest updater software allows for on-the-fly partition resizing

Android updates are getting just that little bit easier to push out over the air today, with the release of Version 8 of Red Band Software's vRapid Mobile product.

Red Band's software is used by mobile device makers -- both in the Android space and for gadgets like GPS navigators -- to automatically perform firmware updates over the air. The company says that Android giants like Samsung, LG and Sony all use vRapid Mobile for system updates.

[ MORE MOBILE: Gartner: Don't expect miracles from BlackBerry's recent facelift ]

The latest version of the software contains a new wrinkle -- the ability to remotely increase or decrease the size of the system partition on Android devices, which Red Band says is an important consideration, given the growing storage footprint of successive Android OS versions. While Ice Cream Sandwich -- also known as Android 4.0 -- weighs in at 171MB, Jelly Bean (Version 4.1/4.2) takes up 203MB of storage. That means a device with a system partition of, say, 175MB would be unable to receive an upgrade to Jelly Bean, absent the new feature or manual tweaking.

According to Red Band executive vice president for marketing Lori Sylvia, the ability to perform quick system updates is becoming an important differentiator for Android OEMs.

"OEMs that are committed to doing software updates on a consistent and timely basis are getting good recognition from the marketplace, and when they don't, it's a problem," she says.

IDC researcher Will Stofega says that Google's initial attempt to deal with the problem of Android fragmentation -- the Open Handset Alliance -- hasn't been effective.

"[The company] basically abandoned their efforts due to OEMs' reluctance to share their Android tweaks with others," he says.

Stofega calls Red Band's new partition-adjustment capability "essential."

"Sending out a new version of the OS that is too big is a disaster for network operators who foot the bill for distribution and have to answer to customer complaints," he says.

Email Jon Gold at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter at @NWWJonGold.

Read more about software in Network World's Software section.

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