Google may publicly 'shame' slow-to-update Android partners

By Jos · 14 replies
May 26, 2016
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  1. Android device manufacturers and carriers have notoriously dragged their feet when it comes to delivering system updates, leading to fragmentation within the Android ecosystem and users being exposed to security vulnerabilities for way longer than they should.

    Things have gotten better in recent years, with Google decoupling many core Android elements from the OS itself, allowing updates to be delivered via the Play Store, and reducing carriers’ phone testing requirements. But there’s still plenty of room for improvement.

    Apparently one of Google’s behind-the-scenes effort to expedite updates, according to a Bloomberg report, involves ranking partner manufacturers based on how up-to-date their devices are in terms of security patches and OS versions. The company is said to already be sharing its ranking with manufacturers themselves, but now it’s considering making the list public to “highlight proactive manufacturers and shame tardy vendors.”

    Part of the problem is that there's very little incentive for most OEMs and carriers to keep their handsets up to date after they leave store shelves. Instead of dedicating resources at keeping old phones up-to-date they’d rather just sell you a new phone instead.

    Google been trying different things to pressure manufacturers into delivering timely updates, from the ill-fated Android Update Alliance to making Android's source code available earlier in the development process, and releasing pure Android handsets under the Nexus program.

    It’s unclear if a ’naughty’ list of late updaters with no real consequences for manufacturers will make a big difference. But presenting it in a good light might give phone makers a goal to aim for and something their marketing teams can use to sell more phones.

    Google isn't alone in pressuring for faster updates. Amid a number of critical security flaws hitting mobile devices in recent months, the FCC and the FTC have also launched investigations into how companies release their mobile security patches.

    Permalink to story.

  2. Darth Shiv

    Darth Shiv TS Evangelist Posts: 1,811   +472

    Yes please!!!
    SirChocula likes this.
  3. project_Akira

    project_Akira TS Rookie

    Hopefully AT&T will get placed right at the top of this shame list with their garbage *** update (lack of) cycle. Also shame them for always locking their boot loaders on their devices..*cough Note 4.
  4. Uncle Al

    Uncle Al TS Evangelist Posts: 3,355   +2,003

    About darn time! They also need to shame them into much more complete upgrades since, sadly, the android system seems to be falling behind!
  5. Sniped_Ash

    Sniped_Ash TS Maniac Posts: 253   +108

    One of the reasons why I switched to an iPhone was that the Galaxy Nexus got like 3 updates before being cut off and the last one was not only way late, but awful. So why try the Android roulette again when I know what I'm going to get with Apple?
  6. ChuckyDhaBeast

    ChuckyDhaBeast TS Enthusiast Posts: 42   +25

    That was in part because TI closed their SOC department, so officially, there was no hardware support. Had it been an SOC from someone still in the market, things might have been different.
  7. ChuckyDhaBeast

    ChuckyDhaBeast TS Enthusiast Posts: 42   +25

    Mabey Samsung will get their @!!! finally kicked. Seriously, some of their galaxy tab got abandonned less than a year after release.
    I know someone who has a galaxy discover (worst device ever) and never received a single update. This is unacceptable.
    The strict minimum should be 3 years of updates, nothing less.
    cliffordcooley and Gopal Bhat like this.
  8. p51d007

    p51d007 TS Evangelist Posts: 1,310   +651

    Why not just push a "core" update automatically, and let the $%#@* carriers & mfg's push out the rest.
    Can the core OS be updated, while leaving the rest alone? Perhaps Android "N" can be designed that way
    or Android "O"?
  9. Samsung are so slow at releasing updates even on their flagship or last year's flagship devices.
    If the Note 6/7 or whatever it'll be called is no good then I'll move to someone else. Motorola most likely.
  10. MonsterZero

    MonsterZero TS Evangelist Posts: 440   +223

    Just remove carrier testing all together, no one wants the bloatware on the device, nor do they want to be locked to a carrier.

    I can only imagine AT&T is at the top of the list of offenders.
  11. Darth Shiv

    Darth Shiv TS Evangelist Posts: 1,811   +472

    Yes that really should be a thing.
    p51d007 and cliffordcooley like this.
  12. danwat1234

    danwat1234 TS Rookie

    I'm sure John Mcafee fully supports Google's efforts! He is leading a new security company, stock ticker MGT, it'll be epic.
  13. danwat1234

    danwat1234 TS Rookie

  14. cliffordcooley

    cliffordcooley TS Guardian Fighter Posts: 9,733   +3,705

    Let me get my anti-Google ball cap and pom-poms so I can properly cheer on Google in this effort.
  15. matrix86

    matrix86 TS Guru Posts: 843   +38

    "It’s unclear if a ’naughty’ list of late updaters with no real consequences for manufacturers will make a big difference."

    Actually, I think it will. It'll create a new form of competition. LG will start promoting how it's faster at releasing updates than Samsung. Samsung will then fight back with trying to release updates at a faster level. This will also lead to pressuring the phone companies distributing their phones. Since Samsung wants to beat LG and come off as the better company, they'll push the carriers to work faster.

    I'm telling you, you release this stuff and the companies will start competing to be the fastest at getting updates rolled out. My worry, however, is at what cost? Will they end up missing security holes because they were so determined to get out there early? Will they release shoddy coding to be the first? This has its ups and downs.

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