Google reportedly plans to draw public attention to manufacturers that take too long to roll out Android updates. It may publicly release an internal ranking of which companies lag behind.
One of the big drawbacks of Android being an open system that can be modified and implemented in many ways (and on varying hardware) is the muddle of getting updates to users. It’s a process reliant on both manufacturers and cellphone service carriers, meaning in most cases Google can only release an update and wait.
Indeed, Bloomberg reports that while 84 percent of Apple phones and tablets are running the latest iOS version, only 7.5 percent of Android devices are on the latest system. (That may also partly be because Apple does a better job of persuading or coercing users into getting newer hardware that can run the latest system.)
Not only does that create a mess with app developers having to appeal to people on a wide range of Android versions, but it can also mean security patches take too long to roll out to some handsets.
Google is already tackling the carrier side of things, both by persuading carriers to cut their general testing and approval process time overall and by putting continuing pressure on them to simplify and speed up the testing process for security updates, including exempting such updates from some testing.
Now it wants to put pressure on manufacturers to get their skates on. It already maintains internal rankings of manufacturers based on how many of their handsets have the latest operating system and security updates. It now shares these rankings with the manufacturers in the hope of making the point.
To step things up, it’s now looking at making the list public. It wouldn’t be a “name and shame” exercise as such; rather Google would list the manufacturers that do best for updating quickly and leave it to the media and customers to infer that manufacturers not on the list were dragging their feet.
How effective this would be is questionable. For existing handset owners, there’s not much they could do with the information other than be inspired to hassle the manufacturers and hope they took note of complaints. In theory such lists could influence new handset buyers, but it’s hard to imagine that reported update schedule pace is going to outweigh other buying factors for most customers.
[Picture Source: Android Evolution by Manu Cornet from bonkersworld.net]