The Android operating system dominates the global smartphone market, but in spite of that lead position, there are some frustrations that users put up with in using the platform. One concern is a lack of updates to the operating system being released by manufacturers and carriers for devices that are in the hands of consumers. This has been an issue Google has battled for years and it looks like they may be getting ready to deploy a new tool to aid end users by releasing public rankings and hoping this has a shaming effect on those parties who are lax in keeping up.
Whenever Google releases a major revision to their operating system, like the upcoming release of Android N, there is always lots of conjecture as to how far back in their portfolios manufacturers will reach to provide an update. This is important to consumers who hope to see the devices they invest in stay current for more than about one year and it means they can access new features.
However, Google has also taken to pushing out security updates on a more frequent basis and being a little more aggressive in addressing issues in between major releases. This puts even more pressure on manufacturers to push out updates.
Even if a manufacturer manages to keep up with Google on the update schedule, users often find their carriers may slow things down as well. The carriers claim additional testing is needed to ensure network disruptions do not occur. Despite efforts to streamline the process, this additional testing and approval can still add weeks or even months to the time before an Android update finally reaches a consumer’s device.
Google has been trying to make this a little bit easier by separating the operating system from apps and reducing testing requirements. Unfortunately, they still have to deal with smaller manufacturers and carriers who struggle to find the resources to keep up with Google’s updates. On top of that, keeping an older device up to date via updates may be contrary to the business pressure to sell new devices.
Sources indicate Google has developed a list of manufacturers that ranks them by how up-to-date their devices are in terms of security patches and the operating system version. Supposedly this list was shared with partners in the industry earlier this year. The latest threat is that Google may make the list public in an effort to make consumers aware of which manufacturers are doing a good job with updates and possibly shaming those who are tardy or who are not even making an effort. At the present time it is unclear whether Google may do the same thing in terms of carriers and their update processes, but it is not hard to imagine that happening.
Would information on how well a phone-maker or carrier is doing in terms of Android updates influence your buying decisions?