In an industry-first, AT&T issued a statement pledging to update all post-paid Android smartphones released in 2011 to Android 2.3 Gingerbread. Motorola Atrix 4G owners will get a Gingerbgread update beginning today and HTC Inspire 4G users will get it “in the coming weeks”, AT&T confirms. As for the Atrix, Gingerbread will enable the ability to download applications from third-party stores. Other smartphones in AT&T’s lineup pinned for Gingerbread include LG’s Phoenix, Pantech’s Crossover and Samsung’s Captivate 4G and Infuse 4G.

Delivery method will vary by device, the carrier said. That AT&T is taking updating Android phones seriously is a welcome sign for consumers and the Android ecosystem at large, often criticized for platform fragmentation. Google said at their annual developer conference in May that they will be tackling fragmentation woes by imposing strict requirements on their carrier and handset partners. Upgrade details are right below the fold.

Per AT&T’s statement:

Customers who purchased an Android smartphone from AT&T introduced in 2011 can expect to receive an update to Android 2.3.  All of these devices are planned to be upgraded from Android 2.2 to Android 2.3, also referred to as Gingerbread. In addition, Samsung Captivate™ owners will be able to upgrade to Gingerbread.

Delivery methods will vary by device, the carrier says:

Whenever possible, upgrades are delivered over-the-air (OTA), however in some cases the size of the file needed to install the update will require the user to connect via Wi-Fi or connect the phone to a PC to install the update.  Factors such as manufacturer-defined software and other device performance improvements result in each device requiring a separate update which will vary in timing.

The Atrix is the first device that will get the update:

Beginning today and continuing over the next few weeks, Motorola ATRIX 4G users will be prompted to install the update.  To download the update, users must be connected via Wi-Fi.  In August, HTC Inspire 4G users will be notified that the update is available and can be downloaded when connected to a Wi-Fi network.  AT&T smartphone users can access at any one of the company’s more than 26,000 Wi-Fi hotspots at no cost.

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