Android Pie is out, so here's why you're not getting it

Android Pie is out, so here's why you're not getting it

Android Pie has been available for around a day now and you're probably wondering when you'll see the update for your smartphone. Yet, Android Oreo is still dripping slowly down to some devices. The release of these Android updates hasn’t been smooth sailing by any means, and this has infuriated a lot of Android users. Why do some of us have to wait so long to get Android Pie on our smartphones? How do Android updates work? Why do they take so long to arrive on our smartphones? Read on to find the answers.

What is an AOSP?

AOSP is the acronym of ‘Android Open Source Project’. This means that Android is an open-source operating system. The fact that Android is an open-source system allows developers to provide us with custom ROMs based on Android, and allows manufacturers to attach their overlay to it. This also ensures optimal compatibility.

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Lineage OS ROM (heir of CyanogenMOD) is based on AOSP. / © NextPit

Why is this important? Because Android updates always start with Google, then they are passed on to manufacturers before being released onto devices. This is why, unlike Apple, which manages its own update releases from A to Z, there’s often a long delay between the announcement of the Android update and its actual release.

It’s important to bear in mind that the release of Android updates relies on both the manufacturers and carriers. It should also be noted that these parties don’t necessarily have to partake in the updates although some effort has been made recently in this regard.

google android update flowchart
From developer to user: the Android update path. / © Google

To be among the first to receive these updates, you’ll have to get a Pixel smartphone that is managed directly by Google. For other devices, unfortunately, it’s the manufacturer that decides whether or not the device gets the update. Down the line, if your smartphone was bought from a carrier, it’s the carrier that has the final say. So Android Pie won’t be available on our smartphones for a while, with the exception of Pixel and smartphones that have participated in the Android P beta program (Sony Xperia XZ2, Xiaomi Mi MIX 2S, Nokia 7 Plus, OPPO R15 Pro, Vivo X21, OnePlus 6, Essential Phone).

In fact, the Pixel range are like the iPhones of the Android world: they receive their updates directly from the developer: Google.

Why don’t Android updates all arrive at the same time?

Although Google makes the source code available to manufacturers upon its release, it is then their own responsibility to adapt the system to the various devices they market.

Similarly, Samsung, LG, Sony, HTC and other manufacturers can decide which of their devices will get the update and which ones won’t. Of course, you could argue that manufacturers are trying to force their users to buy a newer device by not releasing the update on older models.

In fact, it actually seems that the product managers have this idea in mind though the fact remains that some devices simply can’t run on later software versions because, for example, the hardware is too old or because it’s not worth the company’s effort.

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The Samsung Galaxy S9+ is likely to wait many months before receiving Android Pie. / © NextPit

What about Project Treble?

In order to fight against fragmentation, Google set up the Treble project with Android Oreo. With it, Android receives a supplier interface. This defines the interfaces that the Android framework uses to access the implementation of manufacturers' components (vendor implementation). In this way, it is possible to update Android independently of vendor implementation. This way, after an Android update, the vendor implementation remains intact. 

project treble changes
Project Treble separates the Android framework from the vendor interface. / © Google

Unfortunately, at the beginning of Project Treble, we had the impression that all new smartphones would automatically be compatible with this technology. Now we know that is not the case. In practice, Project Treble requires some work on the part of manufacturers since they have to adapt certain elements to make modular upgrades possible. 

So this Google initiative is laudable, but manufacturers must play the game to please their users.

When will I receive Android Pie?

Google has just begun to release Android Pie Pixel phones now. If you want to download it manually, you must have an eligible device.

If you don’t have a Pixel device, prepare yourself for a long wait before you receive the update on your smartphone. Some manufacturers release the update quickly while others time their time.

Why do users in some countries receive Android Pie before others?

Motorola provided a detailed explanation for this. The answer is simple: it’s all about testing. Depending on the carrier, the most popular apps in a particular country, pre-installed apps and component versions that devices contain depending on the region, the tests are all different.

Could someone in my country receive Android Pie before me?

If you hear of someone in the same country as you receiving the update while you’re still waiting for it, it’s bound to make you angry but, in reality, there’s really no justification for this. Manufacturers send the OTA (Over The Air) automatic update to some users to test the update. If there are no problems with it, then the new version is rolled out to all the users in that country.

Whether or not you're one of the lucky first ones to get the update is down to pot luck. On the plus side, this means that won't have to endure any glitches or bugs that first appear with the update.

Carriers and Android updates

If you bought your smartphone with subsidizing, meaning through an carrier, be aware that you probably have a version of Android with the carrier's own overlay. When an update is available, the carrier must modify it before releasing it, which increases the delay in releasing the Android update.

Be careful, this doesn’t mean that it has drawbacks, far from it. TV apps, free subscriptions, etc. are very useful on carrier overlays. In addition to this, carriers often roll out updates faster than manufacturers themselves.

The problems with OTA and root

Generally, to receive an OTA, you have to have an unmodified Android. The root and SuperSU themselves don’t prevent you from receiving an OTA. If, however, you have installed a custom recovery (TWRP, CWM), then you won’t receive the OTA.

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With a rooted Android smartphone, you can forget about the OTA. / © ANDROIDPIT

In fact, custom recovery replaces the stock recovery; therefore, the system is modified. So there will be no OTA for you. However, you can flash firmware, meaning an unmodified (stock) version and thus benefit from the OTA.

Conclusion: be patient!

Ultimately, the only solution is to be patient, or to wait for the fragmentation issue to become a serious problem that manufacturers have to fix. But this probably won’t happen, as manufacturers prefer to sell new smartphones rather than update old products.

Unless you have the latest high-end devices, you can forget about the latest updates, or at least expect to wait a while for it. At the end of the day, users (myself included) would rather give up and buy another smartphone to access the new software version, or install a custom ROM onto their older devices.

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Be patient! / © NextPit

Do you have any other questions on Android updates? Ask us in the comments!

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Readers' favorite comments

  • Mark Lynch May 10, 2017

    I really don't think that for 99% of users this is a major issue.

    Google use play services to update their apps so the experience is virtually the same no matter what version of android you're on. Most people couldn't even tell the version their phone is running anyway especially under a manufacturers skin.

    Nobody says their laptop is useless because it runs Windows 7 instead of 10 and that's a far more noticeable update over a jump from Marshmallow to Nougart.


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  • CJ Brown Aug 10, 2018 Link to comment

    I have a very stable OS Oreo 8.1.0 with no glitches and minimal bloatware (no complaints!) I would assume most of us finally got updated from OS Nougat 7.1 to OS Oreo 8 (or purchased a device with OS Oreo 8).

    While I see many improvements with OS Pie 9.0, I don't care for the new Menu (ie the sliding line). I like my 3 Buttons (just got used to triangle circle square). I don't think it needed fixing (if it isn't broken? leave alone!). I do look forward to seeing who's interpretation of OS 9 turns out.

  • harshatecordeon Aug 9, 2018 Link to comment

    Awesome info...

  • Rusty H. Aug 9, 2018 Link to comment

    Personally, I still think the carrier/manufacturers put off updating, in hopes of getting people to pony up for new ones. One saving grace is that from around Jelly Bean on, for me anyway, other than security patches, Android has been pretty solid.

  • Sorin Aug 8, 2018 Link to comment

    This unspoiled Pistachio arrives after a long wait and with little improvement. Do they really have any more news to add?

  • storm Aug 8, 2018 Link to comment

    My Essential PH1 got the update this AM.

    • Rusty H. Aug 9, 2018 Link to comment

      The price came down, to $329 on Amazon so I went ahead and ordered one. For that price, couldn't resist playing with one.

      • storm Aug 9, 2018 Link to comment

        It was even cheaper on prime day

  • José Rafael García Torres Aug 8, 2018 Link to comment

    Motorola ofreció la actualización de Android 8 oreo para el Moto G5 plus hace más de un año y ahora ablan de Android 9 pie no les parece que ustede cómo fabricante del sistema operativo deberían ejercer presión a éstos señores para que le cumplan a sus clientes porque no sólo están desprestigiando a Motorola sino a todo el sistema operativo Android

  • Koketso Pilane May 14, 2017 Link to comment

    I will probably never get the update as I am using a Huawei P8 Lite not the 2017 version but I think the 2015 version and I will only get my upgrade next year December which is so far away!

  • drtheinmyintsoe May 12, 2017 Link to comment

    when can I get Nougat update for E7?

  • TANMOY SEN May 10, 2017 Link to comment

    I am using moto x play in INDIA . Can u tell me approximately when i can get NOUGAT update?

    • Koketso Pilane May 14, 2017 Link to comment

      I am not sure but some reports say that the Moto X Play has received the Nougat Update in India but I am not 100% sure.

  • Mark Lynch May 10, 2017 Link to comment

    I really don't think that for 99% of users this is a major issue.

    Google use play services to update their apps so the experience is virtually the same no matter what version of android you're on. Most people couldn't even tell the version their phone is running anyway especially under a manufacturers skin.

    Nobody says their laptop is useless because it runs Windows 7 instead of 10 and that's a far more noticeable update over a jump from Marshmallow to Nougart.

    • Gavin Runeblade Aug 8, 2018 Link to comment

      I disagree. Roughly 19% of the population of America has a disability, about 57 million people. The accessibility differences between Nougat/Oreo vs older Android operating systems is huge. In particular for blind and visually impaired users.

      This may be invisible to people without disabilities, but it is something that millions of people have to deal with and it is driving them to Apple. In the blind community over 85% use iPhones according to multiple studies, and disabled Android users (most of whom still have have Lollipop or Kitkat phones) overwhelmingly report frustration trying to use the accessibility features (most recent one I read showed 39% saying "somewhat hard to use" and 19% saying "very hard to use" vs 13% and 2% for iPhone), which only change based on OS updates, not from Ap updates. Ask most blind people and they will mistakenly tell you "Android phones are not usable by a blind person", simply because they cannot get their hands on something running Nougat or Oreo where the accessibility is equal or better to iPhone.

      19% of the population is a big number, and for them this is a serious issue.

  •   31
    Deactivated Account May 10, 2017 Link to comment

    so if you have the latest hardware your ok..
    lots of disposable income your ok..
    so you can..
    upgrade every 24mths to remain ok..
    regardless that hardware works for a lot longer than 3yrs,
    you really need a Pixel to get the most current OS that's only updated twice over 2yrs and gets security support for 3yrs..

    that's as reasonable as using glass to cover and protect a smartphone.

  • storm May 9, 2017 Link to comment

    Rooting is only a solution if you buy a fairly mainstream device with developer appeal. Generally a company's flagship phone is a safe bet. But mainstream mid-level phones are good choices usually too. Look and see what devices the company has released source code for in the past. That's usually a good sign of which lines will have developer support for unlocking the bootloader and developing ROMs. If there's no bootloader bypass or ROM development, then rooting doesn't get you an upgrade path.

    But even if you have a rooted phone, you run into problems when the maker hasn't or stops releasing code for it. I have a buggy modem problem on Nougat ROMs on my Moto X Pure because the modem driver for Nougat hasn't been released. Worked flawlessly on Marshmallow ROMs. But auto switching between wifi and cell data tends to break my data connectivity on all the Nougat ROMs I've used though some are better than others. I've had to reflash stock ROM, take an upgrade to get modem support, then re-root and so on. There can be hurdles beyond just flashing a ROM.

    • Reg Joo May 10, 2017 Link to comment

      Yep relying on mfgrs to upgrade their phones is bad enough, the carriers make it much worse. I will always go with unlocked ones from now on, at least you have a fighting chance.

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