It always intrigues me that every time there is a new upgrade that stories start coming out about how the upgrade destroyed this previous function or that the upgrade is preventing my device from using the SD Card – things such as these. It is not as if the new upgrades were not tested on hundreds of devices before that same upgrade was released to the general public via an OTA upgrade. These 'Test Drives' are called soak tests by the industry and I have a done a few myself with Motorola when I owned a Droid Bionic and participated in the Motorola forums. An invitation would go out to see if you were interested in participating in the soak test and then you would let them know – who wouldn't be interested in getting to try out the new software! If selected, you would first sign your life away, promising not to discuss the test with anybody outside a private forum where you would go to and share your observations. After Motorola was satisfied it was working well enough, then they would do their OTA upgrade.
I am not exactly sure what Motorola changed under Google's watch, other than officially naming it "Test Drive," however the length of these Test Drives has apparently changed – when soak tests were rolled out previously, it was normally done on say a Thursday or Friday and then the OTA would go out the following Monday or Tuesday…generally three days after we did the Test Drive…in other words, it was a 'done deal,' or 'Baked' as they call it. Now the Test Drives are scheduled for a 3-4 week period so they may be releasing the upgrades earlier knowing there may be issues with the build, but leaving time to tweak it and re-test the bug fixes. Motorola even offers to replace your device should it become inoperative.
According to our source one of their readers sent them the email from Motorola (shown in its entirety below) inviting them to the Test Drive the 4.4.2 KitKat upgrade for their DROID RAZR M. The email looks like the ones that used to receive and our source is assuming that it is legit. If you want to participate in future Test Drives then your best bet is to hang around on the forums – I spent time on the Droid Bionic forum because of the random reboot issues on that device and volunteered for the first Test Drive and then was invited back for two more. I guess I should hang around the Samsung Note 3 forums…maybe I could get invited to one of theirs? Below is the complete email from Motorola:
Welcome to the first MFN Test Drive program
Congratulations — you are the first group of Motorola Feedback Network members invited to take part in the Test Drive program. You were chosen because you have demonstrated that you keep your word — when we've provided you with software, you have provided feedback. Thanks for that! The value of end-user feedback has become evident over the years, though the contributions of Motorola Feedback Network members like you.
Test Drive is an effort to get end-user input earlier in the development process. This is not — or at least not necessarily — final software. We'll be watching your input closely to see if there are changes needed before this is submitted for final approval.
I won't mislead you. As this is our first Test Drive, the software is pretty baked. This is the stage of development where we expect to be close to final. As we get more comfortable with the Test Drive process, we will offer reviews earlier in the process. But make no mistake about it — you are the first in the program. And if you find issues of sufficient size and severity, we have time to get fixes in this version.
How is this going to work? For now, we're going to try our usual soak test process, which you are all familiar with. We have topic-specific threads set up here for your in put, and we'll ask for your input via surveys. There are a couple of key differences:
This soak will be a lot longer than usual. Plan for a month, give or take a week or so, if all goes as planned.
If we end up pushing you more than one version of the software, we'll close the old threads and start new ones, just to keep comments and versions matched up.
In the Test Drive program, we expect 100 percent participation. That means some comments here in the private community, and responses to surveys, from every member. No taking the software and running.
The main difference is that there is, naturally, slightly more risk of a problem that could limit your phone's performance. If that happens, you MUST post here in the forums using the tools provided to alert our team. DO NOT call Verizon or our regular call center support.
This is a key condition, along with perfect confidentiality. Any break with these conditions could jeopardize the Test Drive program. We've worked a long time to get to this point so I hope we can all work together and stick to these terms, and those outlined in the registration.
If you do have a problem with the software that causes a problem with your phone, we'll do everything we can to correct it fast. We'll fix the problem or get a working replacement in your hands as soon as we can.
Because this is brand new, we'll also be making up some things as we go along. We'll be creative.
If you have questions, please post below. I may not have answers but I'll do my best.
For now, I'll tell you that we expect to push software to you tomorrow, but I'm not sure of the time. Please get your Droid RAZR Ms ready, and do not Factory Data Reset until after you've upgraded.
Matt and the rest of the MFN Test Drive team