Tech by VICE

Why You Probably Didn't Get This Crucial Android Update

Google is but one piece of the puzzle when it comes to Android updates.

by Nicholas Deleon
Sep 11 2015, 1:42pm

Image: Bianca Moraes/Flickr

It might be too late to change Lorenzo's opinion about Android, but Google this morning is now rolling out the first of its promised security updates for its Nexus line of smartphones.

The company last month pledged to increase the frequency of Android security updates after a series of high-profile security flaws, most notably Stagefright, drew attention to the problem of infrequent and inconsistently applied security updates.

The updates rolling out now are only available for the company's Nexus line of smartphones, going back to 2012's Nexus 4. (This year's Nexus smartphone is expected to be announced before the end of this month.) Included in this first round of post-Stagefright security updates is one update that fixes a bug that could have let rogue apps sign up users for premium SMS services without informing them it was doing so.

While Google should be applauded for pledging to release Android security updates more frequently, the bigger picture is a little murkier. For most Android smartphones it's the user's wireless carrier, and not the device manufacturer, that controls how and when Android updates are rolled out—and that's assuming the device manufacturer even bothers to take Google's patch and make it work on their individual devices. (Samsung and LG have publicly pledged to do better in this regard.) None of the major wireless carriers have yet said when, or even if, they plan to deploy this latest Android patch on their suite of devices, so this is still very much a case of "hurry up and wait."

And you wonder why Apple is now openly courting Android users.