Updates have been Android’s biggest problem ever since the operating system launched. With so many manufacturers making Android devices and creating their own versions of Android, Google has no control over how often they’re updated. And unfortunately, the updates are few and far between.
Devices being left on old versions of Android is a bad enough problem, but the main problem here is security. Those older version of Android are vulnerable to many exploits that were fixed by Google long ago, yet manufacturers don’t care enough about all the devices they flood the market with to update them and keep their customers safe.
After the Stagefright bug, Google has gotten a lot more serious about security. New security features were implemented via APIs to all Android devices, and now many manufacturers are complying with Google to release monthly security updates. Devices are still being left behind, especially lower-end devices, but it’s a significant improvement.
There’s still far more progress to be made, and now it seems Google is taking it a step further. The company has allegedly created a list that ranks its manufacturing partners by their update times and security patches. This list has been distributed to the manufacturers in hopes of encouraging the high-ranked ones and shaming the low-ranked ones.
If that doesn’t work, Google is considering making the list public. I know most of us would love that, seeing manufacturers being put on blast for leaving customers without critical security patches and updates. Our phones carry our entire lives on them, and mobile security has never been more important.
Hopefully we do end up getting a list, and hopefully manufacturers will improve their update practices. With new versions of Android rolling out with great new features and security improvements and less than 10% of devices getting the update in the first seven months (it currently stands at 7.5%), they have a lot of work to do.