Samsung's Captivate smartphone is now available for an upgrade to Google's Android 2.2 "Froyo" operating system, but it won't come from its carrier AT&T through the traditional over-the-air channel.
Rather, Samsung and AT&T have created an "optional upgrade" Captivate users must download from the Samsung Website to a desktop or laptop computer running Microsoft Windows 7, Vista or XP.
Users also need a USB cable to connect their phone to their computer to complete the upgrade. See detailed instructions here.
AT&T began selling the 4-inch Super AMOLED (active-matrix organic LED) screen Samsung Captivate last July for $199 with a two-year contract. The handset is one of a handful of phones from the Samsung Galaxy S line that sold more than 10 million units in 2010.
Android upgrades have come fairly rapidly on Motorola and HTC handsets, but Android 2.2 has posed a significant technical challenge for Samsung and its carrier partners.
T-Mobile's Samsung Vibrant last month became the first Galaxy S device to have Froyo, which includes Adobe Flash 10.1 support, USB tethering and mobile hotspot capabilities.
When asked when Froyo would come to other Galaxy S handsets, Samsung told eWEEK at the time: "We are working to make the Android 2.2/Froyo upgrade available to all U.S. Galaxy S owners as soon as possible. Due to the complexity and unique functionality of each Galaxy S device, we are performing additional testing."
Now Captivate owners may enjoy Froyo, though the manual upgrade is clearly more cumbersome than an over-the-air bump. Indeed, Samsung cautioned users to back up all their Captivate data, such as contacts, pictures, music and videos "prior to performing the update as data could be lost."
When asked the reason for this manual practice, Samsung told eWEEK: "Samsung and AT&T worked closely together to determine the most efficient upgrade path and best experience for our customers."
That is a subtle way of saying that technical issues precluded an over-the-air Froyo bump across AT&T's network.
While some Captivate owners may be rejoicing, the long delay to Android 2.2 has been a painful wait for Galaxy S owners, who watched Samsung launch its Nexus S smartphone with Android 2.3 in December.
With the Vibrant and Captivate, owners of Verizon Wireless' Samsung Fascinate and Sprint's Epic 4G will be especially anxious to get the upgrade to Android 2.2.