The FTC and FCC both want to know why Android manufacturers are so slow with updates

The FTC and FCC both want to know why Android manufacturers are so slow with updates
As you probably very well know, it takes a while for non-Nexus Android handsets to receive any sort of software updates. Once Google releases a new patch, it's primed and ready for its Nexus smartphones worldwide, and is typically pushed out within days, however, any other manufacturers first hold the update for evaluation and testing for their own devices. Then, updates for carrier-issued handsets need to be assessed by the network providers, and only then can they be pushed to the end users.

Naturally, this system leads to a clog and huge delays in the update pipeline. While Google is busy issuing monthly security updates for the Android OS, other manufacturers' smartphones will often skip a patch or two while catching up, often getting updated with a version that is soon to be obsolete.

The Federal Trade Commission and Federal Communications Commision have taken note of said problem and have issued an inquiry to eight different device manufacturers, asking for insight on what processes they use to review and release the security patches for smartphones, tablets, and other mobile gadgets. It is unclear how the commissions are planning to proceed after they get their answers, but, at least for now, every non-stock Android user that is a bit bitter about slow updates can feel justified, as not one but two different regulatory organizations have officially asked the question "Hey! What's taking so long?".

The motivation behind the FTC and FCC's inquiry is a growing concern for user security. As people use their mobile Internet for more and more tasks, payments and personal data submissions included, malware and vulnerability threats become more and more bothersome.

source: FCC via Phandroid

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40 Comments

1. sebbellic01

Posts: 305; Member since: May 03, 2016

The thing I hate the most about Android devices, the god damn updates. Except for Nexuses.

5. vincelongman

Posts: 5677; Member since: Feb 10, 2013

Agreed IMO it should be made manditory that OEMs must at least release security updates at least once every 3 months for 2 years for $250+ devices (I'd expect once every month for high end devices)

8. NoToFanboys

Posts: 3231; Member since: Oct 03, 2015

+1 Hopefully this will change things. Also the carriers are making things worse.

14. sebbellic01

Posts: 305; Member since: May 03, 2016

Every time I get a Samsung phone I flash international software on it, if possible, so there is no carrier updates BS. But then carrier updates or not, they are slow af

19. kartik.07

Posts: 73; Member since: May 04, 2015

I am getting security update for my note 5 from last 3-4 months regularly

11. maherk

Posts: 6768; Member since: Feb 10, 2012

Not just the slow updates, but also the fact that we have to guess whether our device will be supported and get the next update or not. While I love Samsung devices, I despise their software updates procedure. I have a Tab S 8.4 for example, and I don't know if it will be update it to 6.0 or not, and when will it receive it if it was supported. And it needs the update so badly, it is sluggish at times, and all I use it for is consuming media, no gaming what so ever.

13. 444777

Posts: 399; Member since: May 02, 2016

Majority of the users don't care about updates. It's us techies who do. Even phones with ics and Jellybean is on par with MM. Sluggish is caused by low Ram and crappy Cpu. Don't forget this is Android OS made for desktop running on a smartphone. That's like running X86 on a smartphone. I'm running kitkat Rom on my S7.

28. Ninetysix

Posts: 2962; Member since: Oct 08, 2012

The nonTechie guy will say that Sammy is good with updates. Only about 18% of their phones gets some kind of an update. Pathetic.

31. true1984

Posts: 864; Member since: May 23, 2012

thats the main reason i tend to stay away from samsung tablets. there is no reason for the original tab s to still be on lollipop and i seriously doubt it will be updated, just like the tab pro series

39. Gaurav008

Posts: 328; Member since: Jul 20, 2012

Nailed it!

18. aznhachi

Posts: 212; Member since: Apr 12, 2016

nexuses ftw

29. torr310

Posts: 1645; Member since: Oct 27, 2011

Ironically, Apple push their customers to update their products, but Android customers have to push their manufacturers for updates. Android manufacturers have no prides and confidence in their products. They tried to make a good product by making so many different models. It may look like Android manufacturers are competing with Apple, but their most challenge is from other Android manufacturers.

36. Beto_Lopez

Posts: 44; Member since: Apr 14, 2015

LG G3 with CM13, i get an update every day.

38. Nine1Sickness

Posts: 896; Member since: Jan 30, 2011

Why do they take so long to update you ask? The only thing keeping manufacturers from updating is making sure they have their own crap UI and crapware up to date with the OS. If a small group of hackers can churn out updated custom roms for every rooted android phone out there, what makes you think manufacturers can't? Especially with the resources they have.

2. grbrao

Posts: 294; Member since: Nov 23, 2012

Great Job............ Hope this will change the game..........

3. joey_sfb

Posts: 6794; Member since: Mar 29, 2012

Doing something good for once.

6. Zylam

Posts: 1813; Member since: Oct 20, 2010

Finally, what took these guys so long to ask the right question!

7. Planterz

Posts: 2120; Member since: Apr 30, 2012

The carriers are the biggest problem. Not just because they themselves take forever to approve and modify (ie: add their bloat), but because they commission so many different models from the various manufacturers. How many low-mid end Samsungs are there out there? I can think of 5 or 6 from the last couple years off the top of my head from T-Mobile alone. And then there's AT&T, US Cellular, Verizon, and Sprint. On top of that you have the ones specificly for MVNOs/month-to-month providers like Cricket. That's probably upwards of a couple dozen different devices from the last couple years. Why would Samsung bother updating so many cheap phones? The carriers don't care. Why don't the carriers care? Because they already got your money on a cheap phone, and rather than both them and the carrier and the manufacturer wasting resources on updates, it's easier to just put out a new model. When it comes to flagships, things are different, because with these people EXPECT updates. Nobody should expect 2 years of updates on their Galaxy Core Prime, but on their Note 5, for certain. The problem again lies with the carrier, and their bloat and modification. If the FCC wants quicker updates, they should force carriers to eliminate, or at least severely limit the amount of modifications and bloat they can add to the manufacturers' source firmware. At the very most, let them add a "store" that lets the customer download the apps they want, rather than have them forced upon them. A phone from a carrier will likely have 10-25 (or more) apps that are either directly from the carrier or included from other companies as part of a "partnership". That's why I only go with Nexus and/or custom ROMs. Because they'll always get updated by people who actually give a rat's ass.

10. joevsyou

Posts: 1091; Member since: Feb 28, 2015

google really needs to yank carrier control from android.

15. sebbellic01

Posts: 305; Member since: May 03, 2016

Google should really limit how Android is changed by OEMs, like Android Wear.

17. Planterz

Posts: 2120; Member since: Apr 30, 2012

You do understand the definition of "open source", don't you?

20. sebbellic01

Posts: 305; Member since: May 03, 2016

Android Wear is open source, like regular Android, but some elements of it are closed source. So yes I do understand the definition. There would be benefits of Google making some elements of Android closed source but then there could be some bad things to it too.

22. elitewolverine

Posts: 5192; Member since: Oct 28, 2013

You do realize that Carriers helped build Android to begin with. Without the carrier support it would have been another blip on the radar. Without their 'droid' commercial push that hit the airwaves every commercial break it seemed like for a year....nothing would have come of it. Without the shunning of Symbian, which was better than Android at the time...nothing would have come of it (maybe). And don't forget that carriers have helped shape android in and of itself. You wanna see rebellion? Take the carriers millions of dollars and then tell them to F off. Carriers are part of the Android Handset Alliance and have contributed to the code of Android you hold so dear. There has been fight back by some because with each new android more and more control is taken by google. Older APIs no longer working to force upgrades. Considering each phone requires testing with a new OS, Google doesn't have the resources to test each and every phone out there with the millions of app combinations that can break an update.

16. Subie

Posts: 2350; Member since: Aug 01, 2015

If you buy factory unlocked you get away with carrier control. Google is not the problem, it's all the OEM's that need to stand together against the carriers. When Apple said no to carrier control some refused to sell their phones... but they came around.

9. Loubielou

Posts: 603; Member since: Jul 11, 2012

Samsung needs to improve its software department instead of producing to many phones,if Samsung thing there superior to Apple they realy need to improve its Software updates,thats why people really still miss Nokia as they were so good offering software updates on Symbian,Why?can"t Samsung employ some old Nokia employees to get there Software section improved,Samsung & google should be working together to Improve Android,Android might be o.k but it can be a battery draining software

12. ava51

Posts: 86; Member since: Feb 12, 2016

May be why Android manufacturers are so slow with updates.

21. tomn1ce

Posts: 247; Member since: Mar 12, 2012

It took them long enough to start asking this question.

23. MrElectrifyer

Posts: 3960; Member since: Oct 21, 2014

Monthly security updates would be a welcome improvement from every OS maker, but couldn't really care about major OS updates taking a while. There's really no point to being so desperate for faster major OS updates. Especially with heavily-skinned OEM versions of Android. iOS could get updated 100 times, it still wouldn't be capable of all what heavily-skinned OEM devices offer right out of the box. Up till now, despite all the updates it has received, it's still too dumb to do what dumb phones were capable of, including system wide automation, quick-switch profiles for multiple hardware/software components, Bluetooth file/media sharing, central file management, being used as a Flash drive, etc. If you want OS updates just for the sake of OS updates and don't care much about what the updates bring, then an iOS or Nexus device is what you need, both would easily accomplish that.

25. Ordinary

Posts: 2454; Member since: Apr 23, 2015

Pretty much. Even my S3 which has official 4.3 has more features than some phones released in 2015/16.

37. 444777

Posts: 399; Member since: May 02, 2016

Even Kitkat is better than Marshmallow. I find no difference between 32bit and 64bit Art. It's all gimmicks. The only influential is utmost is the 100hz screen refresh rate and 120fps instead of 60 now on 6.0.0. MM.

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