Vodafone backs down in Android row

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Phone giant Vodafone has backed down in a row with customers over software updates for Google Android phones.

Last week, many customers who own HTC Desire smartphones were prompted to download a software update which they believed was an upgrade to Android.

Instead it installed irremovable Vodafone-branded apps and bookmarks, including links to dating sites.

Following a raft of complaints, the firm has backed down and will now offer an update without the applications.

The software will upgrade users to the latest version of Android, as many had expected the original upgrade to do.

Start Quote

This update has offered no performance enhancements at all”

End Quote Vodafone customer

A spokesperson said the software - known as Froyo or version 2.2 - would be ready in the next seven to 10 days.

The firm's apps - known as Vodafone 360 - will be offered as an optional download, a spokesperson said.

"We will roll out a vanilla version of 2.2," a spokesperson told BBC News.

"The only thing we will change are the network settings to optimise them for our network."

Unwanted upgrade

He said that the Vodafone applications downloaded in the most recent update would be removed when the next upgrade was rolled out.

"We will make the 360 service available at a later date for optional download."

Many customers were keen to get hold of the latest version of Android as it includes several new features, including HD video recording, the ability to turn the handset into a wireless hotspot and support for Flash software, commonly used to show web video.

However, many were quickly disappointed and turned to Vodafone's forums to vent their anger.

One wrote: "This update has offered no performance enhancements at all.

"What really really annoys me is that Vodafone think of themselves as one of the biggest mobile companies in the world.... however, they in one day have managed to annoy most of their customers by spoiling a brilliant phone."

Another said: "Can someone from Vodafone please explain to your paying customers why you are able to get an update out the door full of branding and unwanted Vodafone applications when you know full well all anyone wants is Froyo?"

Initially, Vodafone refused to back down, saying that it customised phone software to "optimise customers' experience".

However, after several days of complaints it has capitulated to its customers' demands.

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