Google needs to name and shame

Google needs to name and shame

Back in May, Bloomberg reported that Google has a ranking of manufacturers based on how effective they are at providing updates. This problem of slow updates and fragmentation is one that we have made much of in recent months. If Google cares about Android fragmentation, now is the time to release its shameful listicle.

Android Nougat is right around the corner now, but many of us aren't even running Marshmallow yet (myself included). It's difficult to feel connected to the advances Android is making when you seem to be caught in an alternate timeline, where the latest version is still two versions away. Of greater concern is that lackluster updates that leave devices vulnerable. We shouldn't have to wait for another Stagefright exploit for manufacturers to consider security on Android a top concern. 

AndroidPIT Android Nougat 9734
It's hard to be excited about Android Nougat when you don't yet have Marshmallow. / © NextPit

There are many reasons why the update process takes so long, reasons that we have lamentedexplained and endured.

A lot of arguments and evidence can be brought forward to show that Google is makings strides in the right direction, but when many of us have been waiting almost a year for Android Marshmallow, and almost a third of Android users are still stuck on Android KitKat, it is clear to see that there is still not enough being done.

google android fragmentation july 2016 4
It's been 10 months since Marshmallow was released, and less than 14 percent of devices have it. / © Google

With Android Nougat's final build coming in just a few months, it's the perfect time for Google to apply pressure to manufacturers in a visible way, one that makes clear to users that they matter. Gentle encouragement and smart workarounds are not enough; Google needs to publicly name and shame.

At the moment, it is in manufacturers' interests to have people buy a new model rather than stick with their old devices. Profit margins benefit from this, but consumers do not.

Google reportedly has its List of Shame already compiled. Now it needs to release it and let customers decide how much faster updates matter to them. Only then will manufacturers really feel pressured to work harder to provide better support for users.

Do you think customers have a right to see Google's name-and-shame list? Would seeing it affect your next purchase? Let us know in the comments.

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  • Yes agreed. I believe that Android would be more widely accepted if most manufacturers didn't add any bloatware and kept the stock version just like the Nexus devices. They can invest their resources in making custom launchers which can be installed over the stock version. This should seemingly make it easier to push out latest updates to all models.

  • ljhaye Jul 28, 2016 Link to comment

    This is precisely why (joining SAP & IBM) is abandoning Android excluding Samsung and nexus devices. The fragmentation is an issue for enterprise consumers not so much for retail consumers. With the reason being that the average android consumer uses their phone as a phone and when it's time to upgrade to a smartphone they go with iOS and apple's hardware ecosystem.

    The fact that over 30% of users are still on kitkat with Nougat coming this October greatly affects the perception of android giving iOS the illusion of being a more advanced operating system when it's on par at best. When iOS 10 comes out every one will have it and if you're still on kitkat you may get iPhone envy and switch. Without ever knowing that nougat is available and better.

    Ben Evans wrote an interesting piece about this explaining how iOS is 60% of the android base but that it's only premium SMART phone customers which really illustrates that the average android customer uses their phone as a FEATURE phone and don't care about the updates just the cost. If that's the case can you fault these money losing android OEM's for not providing updates.

  • It's not just manufacturers that are slow! network carrier's like ee are painfully slow at releasing when they have the update.

    • My1 Jul 28, 2016 Link to comment


    • I'd agree, but you forgot that the OEMs are responsible for applying Carrier's customisation (vide LG and Samsung). If they didn't do this and developed on single, carrier-free software, that would be much faster.

  • Like I said, separate the Core of Android and let the other companies provide another layer of their choice on top of that Core. Core should be updated/upgraded only by Google. I think that will solve a lot of problems.

  • Google, please do something about this upgrading business

  • Still I'm trying to figure out how to compile my own kernel to get something newer than 422 on my mediadreck phone, but by now I'm almost convinced it's not possible.

  • Google isn't perfect though. There was a table of guaranteed updates for their own branded Nexus devices and it was only 2 years after the release date. I'm not an apple fan at all but they support updates for much longer than that.

    • my nexus 7(2012) was basicly unusable after 2 years because it got so slow.

    • google is updating more than apple, because apps like keyboard, google app, Now launcher, clock , play service, chrome music and more are out of the main update (software) , you can update in playstore. If clock app need to update in iOS , phone need to reboot.

    • Aye, but Android is far heavier and bigger than iOS. It's not that easy to adapt Marshmallow or Nougat to a 2012 phone, for instance. Want to compare? Just see how slow the iPhone 4S got after the latest update and try to imagine how would the user experience be after a bigger update, iOS10, got to such an old device.

  • Samsung will be on top of the list

    • My1 Jul 28, 2016 Link to comment

      this is because they make so many devices. many other makers dont support their low-end devices as well. also obviously the carriers' branding doesnt make it better.

  • Samsung would be on top of that list.

    • My1 Jul 28, 2016 Link to comment

      but only because they make so many devices.

      • not really

      • My1 Jul 29, 2016 Link to comment

        well at least partially it is, there is a lot of difference between having to update 5 different models or >100 (extreme number but you get my point)

        that's one of the good things of ios, they have a lot less devices and many are so overwhelmingly similar e.g. the screen size didnt change until Iphone 5 (and I doubt the resolution did either) and all that stuff makes updating easier.

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