AT&T to bring Gingerbread to all postpaid Android phones this year

AT&T Mobility (NYSE:T) said that it will update all of its postpaid smartphones introduced this year running Google's (NASDAQ:GOOG) Android platform to Android 2.3, or Gingerbread, the latest version of the operating system currently available for smartphones.

AT&T said that starting today, and continuing over the next few weeks, Motorola Mobility (NYSE:MMI) Atrix users will be prompted to install the update, but must be connected to a Wi-Fi network. In August, AT&T said HTC Inspire users will get the update but will also have to download it over Wi-Fi.  The carrier noted that delivery methods for the software update will vary by device, but said whenever possible, upgrades will delivered via over-the-air software updates, although some customers may have to connect to a Wi-Fi network or connect their device to a  PC to get the update.

The full list of AT&T devices that will get the software upgrade include the HTC Inspire, LG Phoenix, Motorola Atrix, Pantech Crossover, Samsung Captivate and Samsung Infuse. Gingerbread, which first became available in December 2010 in the Nexus S, includes user interface refinements, refined copy/paste functionality, a new on-screen keyboard, better power management and speed enhancements.

Android users have often complained of the slow pace of software updates for older models, and the new upgrade schedule from AT&T could be a reflection of the growing importance of Android customers to its smartphone ambitions. AT&T said last week that Android, Microsoft's (NASDAQ:MSFT) Windows Phone 7 and Research In Motion's (NASDAQ:RIMM) BlackBerry accounted for 40 percent of its smartphone sales. The carrier, which also sells Apple's (NASDAQ:AAPL) iPhone, said 50 percent of the company's postpaid subscriber base are now smartphone users.

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