Android updates have been one of the biggest operating system issues since launch. Although the situation has slightly improved in the latest versions, Google is willing to finish solving the problem. If manufacturers do their part …
Updates are a vital matter of any software and on Android they are key to improving security, support, addition of new features and fragmentation, a problem that has persisted on the platform for years. It should be remembered that Google is the developer of the system, but it is the responsibility of the device manufacturers and operators to deliver the updates.
Apple “embarrasses” the rest of the manufacturers in this matter, although it must be recognized that it is only a manufacturer with its own terminals and with full control of the entire ecosystem. In Android it is much more complicated. 9 out of 10 mobiles sold are Android from hundreds of different manufacturers, which, in addition, have to support the large number of interfaces, components and own apps added to the Android code provided by Google.
Android updates: if manufacturers want …
And therein lies the main problem. Manufacturers, whether due to disability or for commercial interests (which are also there as a sign of technological obsolescence) do not update in a timely manner.
For the past three years, Google has been working on the Treble Project to help device manufacturers launch operating system updates. faster and more effectively. In addition, it has facilitated access to the special versions Android Go and Android One that include a “purer” code and are easier to update. The result is that Android 10 adoption has been faster than any previous version:
Probably the most important change has been the arrival of some updates to the Play Store, which facilitates its installation, since users can start the download and installations directly from the official store with at least some components.
There is still a lot to improve and Google has announced several adjustments and policy changes for Android 11 that aim to improve Android updates. Among other:
- OEM Developer Previews that will offer more time for testing and development.
- Google Play update. 21 operating system components are now upgradeable.
- Generic kernel image. 6-year LTS support and isolation of the common Android kernel code by creating a generic kernel image (GKI).
- Virtual A / B. Enhancements for background updates and activation with restarts, with reduced storage space requirements.
All these improvements are welcome. We must acknowledge the effort of Google to support 1.4 billion devices that are activated every year with Android and each one “of his father and mother.” Now it’s the manufacturers turn. Smartphone sales are falling sharply and users increasingly value software support. Ensuring adequate support time and offering Android updates in a reasonable time will be key. Right now that commitment is conspicuous by its absence.