Google tackling fragmentation problem by shaming Android manufacturers

Google is tackling the fragmentation issue by prodding manufacturers to push out updates faster.

Android devices have historically suffered from fragmentation since launch, leaving many users with old and outdated software on their devices that turn into a security concern. A major part of the problem is the process of delivering an update. OEMs, Chipset Manufacturers, Carriers and Google all have to work together with a series of checks before an update can be delivered to any device. Google wants to pressurise manufacturers to skip out on some of these checks. Google has been working to remedy the situation by leading the way, and prodding other manufacturers according to a report in Bloomberg.Turns out Google has even drawn up lists that rank top phone makers. The list includes data about how up-to-date their handsets are, based on security patches and operating system versions which seems like an effort to shame them into keeping the software running on their smartphones updated.

The latest apps and technologies often require the latest operating system. A recent example is Google's Daydream. This creates a big problem for monetizing from application sales or advertisements. Android Marshmallow is on only 7.5 percent of devices. In contrast, 75 percent of iPhones have the latest version of the OS, iOS 9. There are occasional exceptions with Android's Instant Apps being supported all the way back to Jelly Bean. The Nexus range of devices also get monthly over the air security updates, and the scope for that program has just been widened. Google managed to push Samsung into fast tracking security updates for its Galaxy range of devices. The updates don't appear on all the models however, and Samsung has been struggling to keep up with the schedule. Smaller phone manufacturers cannot, or are unwilling to follow the monthly schedule.

Google has to overcome a challenge here. It has to get smartphone manufacturers to invest in time and money to push out software updates to devices that they have already sold.

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