ATandT Upgrading Android Phones to 'Gingerbread'

AT&T is beginning to roll out Android 2.3 "Gingerbread" on its phones, starting with the Motorola Atrix 4G July 25. HTC Inspire 4G is next.

AT&T (NYSE:T) pledged to upgrade all post-paid Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) Android smartphones it has already introduced to run the latest Android 2.3 "Gingerbread" smartphone build.

The upgrade plan starts with the Motorola Atrix 4G July 25. Other AT&T phones slated to get the Gingerbread bump include the HTC Inspire 4G, LG Phoenix, Pantech Crossover, Samsung Captivate and Samsung Infuse 4G.

Aside from being a bit faster than Android 2.2 "Froyo," Gingerbread boasts a cleaner user interface, improved copy-and-paste functionality, as well as an improved on-screen keyboard with multi-touch support.

Some Gingerbread upgrades will be delivered over the air. For others, the software update payload is too large and requires a WiFi connection or connecting the phone to a PC for installation.

Atrix 4G users are being prompted to install the update by connecting via WiFi. Inspire 4G users will be notified in August that they will be able to procure the update on their phone when connected to a WiFi network.

"Factors such as manufacturer-defined software and other device-performance improvements result in each device requiring a separate update which will vary in timing," AT&T explained in a statement.

AT&T pledged at the 2011 Consumer Electronics Show in January to launch at least 20 devices based on Android this year. AT&T launched its first Gingerbread smartphone, the HTC Status, July 17.

The uniform upgrade announcement will be appreciated by owners of those phones who have sat for weeks or months wondering when or if their smartphone of choice would be getting the Gingerbread bake-off.

AT&T's move is also smart after the carriers botched last year's Samsung Galaxy S upgrade from Android 2.1 to Froyo. This took several months.

Update: Verizon Wireless' (NYSE:VZW) Samsung Fascinate was the last Galaxy S device to Froyo, though Verizon'sWebsite still lists it as running Android 2.1.

The only thing better AT&T could have done was to begin to launch Gingerbread over the air to all of its Android phones on the same day.