Google has mandated that new, popular Android devices offer at least two years of security updates

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I’m a big fan of Android devices, but there’s one niggling problem with the operating system that’ll likely never be resolved. It’s all about fragmentation. Because of the sheer number of manufacturers making Android devices – each with their own implementation of the OS and different hardware configurations, it’s almost impossible to keep everything up to date.

While Google regularly issues security updates to the operating system itself, that doesn’t mean that those updates get pushed to the handsets that people actually own. It may end up being less of a problem going forward. While older phones will likely be stuck with security flaws for perpetuity, confidential contracts (via The Verge) show that google has mandated that popular device manufacturers issue regular security updates for at least two years.

Android partners must issue at least four security updates within the first year of a device’s availability, without a specified number in the second year. These terms cover devices sold after January 31 this year, that have been activated by over a hundred thousand users.

Starting at the end of January next year, all “security mandatory models” devices covered by these contracts will have to issue security updates within a certain timeframe. Failure to do so could see Google holding up the approval process on new phones, which obviously ends up as lost revenue for manufacturers.

It’s one reason I like Google’s Android One project – or the idea of it – so much. Originally meant for decidedly weaker phones, Android One keeps software and even hardware consistent, with a stock Android experience that’s regularly updated by Google. It’s the closest there is to Apple’s iOS, which admittedly doesn’t suffer from nearly as much fragmentation as a result. That’s the benefit of a single manufacturer using their own proprietary OS, I guess.

Last Updated: October 25, 2018

Geoffrey Tim

Editor. I'm old, grumpy and more than just a little cynical. One day, I found myself in possession of a NES, and a copy of Super Mario Bros 3. It was that game that made me realise that games were more than just toys to idly while away time - they were capable of being masterpieces. I'm here now, looking for more of those masterpieces.

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