Linked by Thom Holwerda on Wed 12th Oct 2016 19:03 UTC
Android

Last week, I ragged on the Verizon models of the Google Pixel, so in the interest of fairness - here's Verizon and Google responding to the criticism levelled at the usual role carriers in the US play in delaying updates and adding tons of crapware. Verizon told Ars:

First and foremost, all operating system and security updates to the Pixel devices will happen in partnership with Google. In other words, when Google releases an update, Verizon phones will receive the same update at the same time (much like iOS updates). Verizon will not stand in the way of any major updates and users will get all updates at the same time as Google.

Also, the Verizon version of the Google Pixel is carrier unlocked, so you can use it where ever you like. Finally, we have three apps pre-installed on the phone Go90, My Verizon (which is your account management tool) and Verizon Messages (your messaging app). As you noted, all three can easily be uninstalled by the user.

Google further confirmed that that updates will not be held back by Verizon. Google told Ars:

OS updates and monthly security patches will be updated on all Pixel devices (Verizon and non-Verizon versions) simultaneously.

That's excellent news.

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Will other phones get updates?
by kiz01 on Wed 12th Oct 2016 19:40 UTC
kiz01
Member since:
2005-07-06

Let's pretend that I'm a Nexus 5x owner who chose Android over Apple because I could get a good phone at a good price and still get regular updates. I have enjoyed the fact that I get security updates every month and that I get the latest version of Android (yes, I already have Nougat on my phone) automatically. All this was mine at about $400 (including the two year replacement warranty).

If I want that same level of service going forward, I will need to buy a Pixel Phone which is the price of an iPhone.

If that's the case, why don't I just get an iPhone? It gets updates from Apple no matter which carrier I use and it gets them longer than the 2 years from release date that Nexus phones get. It is arguably more stable (although iOS 10 has had some hiccups).

So here's the deal. Are there ANY Android phones, apart from Pixel/Nexus phones that will get regular and timely OS updates? It seems that with most phones you're doing phenomenal if you get an OS upgrade 6 to 12 months after it's released and it's ludicrous to expect security patches at all.

Am I stuck with Pixel?

Reply Score: 6

RE: Will other phones get updates?
by WorknMan on Wed 12th Oct 2016 19:53 UTC in reply to "Will other phones get updates?"
WorknMan Member since:
2005-11-13

If you want timely updates on Android (which apparently now means a couple of months for Nexus users), you're pretty much stuck with whatever Google sells. If you don't like it, go buy an iPhone. It sucks, but those are really the only options you have.

Reply Score: 3

kiz01 Member since:
2005-07-06

That's what I thought. Maybe I'll see what a used 6 Plus goes for on ebay...

Reply Score: 1

WorknMan Member since:
2005-11-13

Or a used Nexus 6P. That's still one hell of a phone. It might not get updates as fast as the Pixel, but Google isn't going to leave you out to dry when it comes to security updates.

Reply Score: 2

RE: Will other phones get updates?
by kurkosdr on Thu 13th Oct 2016 02:26 UTC in reply to "Will other phones get updates?"
kurkosdr Member since:
2011-04-11

If that's the case, why don't I just get an iPhone?


Because all your save games are on Play Games including any in-app purchases. You also have lots of stored passwords, history and bookmarks stored on Chrome, but Play Games is the real obstacle.

Even if this is not the case for you, it is for the vast majority of people out there. The fact many games in the Play Store are pushing microtransactions means people make in-app purchases and then use them to make progress, and they expect to have them on a new device.

---

I really hope the Pixel succeeds and security updates (even more limited that the iPhone) become a customer preference, but I don't see it happening. The Pixel will become yet another Motorola Xoom, aka a device from a relatively unknown brandname (unlike iPhone, Galaxy and LG G) only nerds will care about and most salesmen won't even recommend to the customer.

PS: Gotta love how Google's biggest competitor is Android in the form of Galaxy devices. If the Pixel is their idea of fighting the Galaxy S7, I can only say one thing to them: Oh dear.

Edited 2016-10-13 02:29 UTC

Reply Score: 4

gan17 Member since:
2008-06-03

Because all your save games are on Play Games including any in-app purchases. You also have lots of stored passwords, history and bookmarks stored on Chrome, but Play Games is the real obstacle.

Even if this is not the case for you, it is for the vast majority of people out there. The fact many games in the Play Store are pushing microtransactions means people make in-app purchases and then use them to make progress, and they expect to have them on a new device.

Out of curiosity, is this any different if one was going the opposite direction, from iOS to Android? I'd assume you'd run into the same issues - purchase history being tied to your iTunes/iCloud account, game progress being tied to Game Center, etc. Both companies main goal is to lock you into their ecosystem, after all.

Reply Score: 3

RE: Will other phones get updates?
by l3v1 on Thu 13th Oct 2016 07:51 UTC in reply to "Will other phones get updates?"
l3v1 Member since:
2005-07-06

If that's the case, why don't I just get an iPhone?


Well, maybe because it's an iPhone? For some people (myself included) that's enough.

Reply Score: 1

ahferroin7 Member since:
2015-10-30

Same here, although I have specific reasons:
1. UI. In particular, lack of a universally usable back button, poor hinting, limited discoverability, and horrible inconsistencies even among system apps.
2. The inability to replace system apps. OTOH, I use Chrome and Hangouts, so this isn't as big of an issue for me on Android, and there are quite a few Android phones that have this issue too (I'm looking at you Samsung).
3. Possibility of peripheral hardware lockout. Pretty self explanatory. Apple has blacklisted charging cables (They apparently don't realize that if they weren't charging so much for them, people wouldn't be bypassing the royalties on the lightning connector).
4. Less well defined application security. On Android, you can see exactly what permissions an app has requested, and all of those permissions are (relatively) well defined. Not so much on iOS.
5. I actually understand how almost every piece of OS code on my phone works (except for the low-level stuff in the base-band processor firmware). This is more a personal thing, but I want to actually understand at a low level how what I'm using actually works (and this is also part of the reason I use Linux for just about everything but gaming).

Reply Score: 1

MysterMask Member since:
2005-07-12


3. Possibility of peripheral hardware lockout. Pretty self explanatory. Apple has blacklisted charging cables (They apparently don't realize that if they weren't charging so much for them, people wouldn't be bypassing the royalties on the lightning connector).

And you don't think that they do that for quality reasons, too? Lightning is an active cable technology. You are not going to be happy with a cheap solution (and when it comes to charging: There are many big names in the industry that can sing a song about charging done wrong - go ask Samsung for example).


4. Less well defined application security. On Android, you can see exactly what permissions an app has requested, and all of those permissions are (relatively) well defined. Not so much on iOS.

It's exactly the opposite. On IOS (at least since v7 or v8 - don't know which one), you can see exactly what permissions an app may requested, can deny or allow some or all of them at any time later. Android is years behind in this area.
(And since you are using Google services: May I ask you how security is important to you? What exactly are you protecting from whom?)

Reply Score: 2

ahferroin7 Member since:
2015-10-30

And you don't think that they do that for quality reasons, too? Lightning is an active cable technology. You are not going to be happy with a cheap solution (and when it comes to charging: There are many big names in the industry that can sing a song about charging done wrong - go ask Samsung for example).

And the charging works just fine without that active aspect of the cable. Take a look at any recent Android phone. They charge just fine with any USB cable (the Note 7 not withstanding, but that was an issue with the charging logic and battery in the phone itself, not one with the cable). all of the required active logic is in the phone or the USB charger itself, and that's how it should be. This wouldn't be an issue though if Apple didn't charge so much, because then there would be much less incentive to make cheap knock-offs.

It's exactly the opposite. On IOS (at least since v7 or v8 - don't know which one), you can see exactly what permissions an app may requested, can deny or allow some or all of them at any time later. Android is years behind in this area.
(And since you are using Google services: May I ask you how security is important to you? What exactly are you protecting from whom?)

Have you actually looked at Android since 6.0? It has just the same functionality (including deferring permissions requests until first use and persistently denying specific permissions to a given app, the only thing missing is a list of potentially used permissions before they are used, but doing that correctly is non-trivial). I actually hadn't known that iOS had this now (my last experience with it was around v4 or v5), but I do hold that it's easier to figure out exactly what each permission entails on Android (you need a developer license to get this info for iOS, you just need the developer documentation for Android).

Now, as far as Google's services being a security issue, I don't entirely see your point. I care about app permissions on my phone not because of data security, but because I care about knowing what everything may or may not be doing. The only stuff on my phone that I care about the security of is my Google account itself and the ability to use my phone number (and this second bit is part of why I care about app permissions too). The only other thing I even remotely care about are authentication credentials, but it's trivial for me to revoke any of the ones I have on my phone.

Reply Score: 1

RE: Will other phones get updates?
by Adurbe on Thu 13th Oct 2016 08:03 UTC in reply to "Will other phones get updates?"
Adurbe Member since:
2005-07-06

You could get a Blackberry.

If security patches are your priority, this is the niche Blackberry now fill in the Android EcoSystem.

The flip side of that is security comes at a "cost", that means locked bootloader among other compromises.

Reply Score: 2

kiz01 Member since:
2005-07-06

You know, I haven't looked at Blackberry in a long time. I'll have to look into that.

Reply Score: 1

darknexus Member since:
2008-07-15

And the other flip side is that Blackberry aren't going to be making phones anymore, by their own admission. So it's a dead end.

Reply Score: 3

Adurbe Member since:
2005-07-06

They are no longer manufacturing their own phones. But they still plan to "sell phones"

The DTEK50 and 60 show their new philosophy. Others make the hardware, blackberry re-brand and install their hardened version of Android.

In an era of ubiquity in mobile phones, they are trying to carve out a new niche

Reply Score: 2

libray Member since:
2005-08-27

It is well known that Blackberry's Android on Verizon suffers from not being able to get direct updates.

Reply Score: 2

walid
Member since:
2012-11-24

What about minor updates?
You have to parse everything these companies say.

Reply Score: 2

gsyoungblood
Member since:
2007-01-09

I used to be on Verizon. For many, many years. I still believe they have the best coverage and network in general, but I could no longer handle the nickel and dining, high prices, and to a lesser degree, the extended delays to updating phones.

The last straw for me was the Verizon version of the original Nexus. At first it was great that the Nexus was finally going to be on Verizon, but then the full details came out. I bought it just before Verizon said, nope, it's not going to be treated like every other Google Nexus device after all. [To be fair, I could have missed the original announcement, and only noticed it after the purchase was done and couldn't be returned.]

It took a few years after that before I finally left Verizon, but at that point I bought a phone on T-Mobile and began watching their network. I'm in a rural area, so at first it was pretty bad, but every year it got better and faster. Finally, once it got good enough, I dropped Verizon.

This is not an endorsement of T-Mobile. All the carriers have their hooks, pros, and cons. I was just happy to get away from Verizon.

The Pixel looks interesting. Will I buy one? Don't know. I have an LG V10 that I'm mostly happy with (just not with battery life) and it's still going strong. I don't plan on replacing it any time soon.

That said, if I were on Verizon, I doubt I'd be an early adopter of the Pixel on Verizon because of what Verizon has done historically. Maybe they'll stick with it and it'll really be done that way. Let's hope so for everyone that ends up with one. However, after they've proven themselves here for a while, I might seriously consider it if I were on Verizon.

At least it'll be carrier unlocked.

Edited 2016-10-12 20:25 UTC

Reply Score: 1

Comment by leech
by leech on Wed 12th Oct 2016 23:55 UTC
leech
Member since:
2006-01-10

It is too bad the Pixel comes with neither an Micro SD slot, nor an S-pen type stylus. Otherwise, I would be more excited for an unlocked one. Oh well.

Reply Score: 3

RE: Comment by leech
by joekiser on Thu 13th Oct 2016 00:36 UTC in reply to "Comment by leech"
joekiser Member since:
2005-06-30

The folks at GSMArena are pretty excited about the DTEK60 (which has a microSD card slot) being the spiritual successor of the Nexus line at a lower price point than the Pixel. Blackberry has been right there with the Nexus in terms of providing monthly security patches on time.

Reply Score: 3

RE: Comment by leech
by ahferroin7 on Thu 13th Oct 2016 12:38 UTC in reply to "Comment by leech"
ahferroin7 Member since:
2015-10-30

It's been at least a couple of years since a Nexus device was released with a microSD slot, so I"m not really surprised that the Pixel doesn't have one.

Personally, I've found that I don't really need one if I get a phone that has a reasonable amount of storage. I'm only using about 12 out of the ~54GB of space on my Nexus 6P, but I also don't have tons of games or other toy apps and keep everything else well managed, so maybe I'm just odd in that I actually pay attention to things like storage utilization on my phone.

As far as a stylus, yeah it's a nice touch, but I doubt Google's ever going to include one. The overall market share who is likely to care is just too small (think about it, outside of a formal business setting, how many people do you see using something other than a finger for a touchscreen?).

Reply Score: 2

Comment by robojerk
by robojerk on Thu 13th Oct 2016 02:12 UTC
robojerk
Member since:
2006-01-10

Unless it's written in a contract, "promises" aren't legally binding. Will Google hold back updates if Verizon decides to hold back? Verizon loves planned obselecance so in 1.5 years what if Verizon says "naw, we dont want to go through the hassle."

If they came out and said that Verizon was required (unless they found a flaw) to push Google updates the ball is still in Verizon's court.

And can we confirm that those 3 apps are actually uninstallable (and not just disable).

I'd be more optimistic about this if the boot loader could be unlocked. Even if it required contacting Verizon (dial 611, or a web portal) and ask.

Verizon loves control, this has a lot of spin to make it seem like Pixel buyers wont be screwed, but nothing telling me that Verizon has to follow through.

Edited 2016-10-13 02:13 UTC

Reply Score: 2

RE: Comment by robojerk
by Drumhellar on Thu 13th Oct 2016 02:42 UTC in reply to "Comment by robojerk"
Drumhellar Member since:
2005-07-12

Unless it's written in a contract, "promises" aren't legally binding.


That isn't true. I mean, its not necessarily easy to recoup losses, but if a company makes a promise about features of a device (In this case, continuing, rapid updates), and you make a purchase decision based on those promises, but they fail to live up to those promises, they absolutely do owe you.

The difficulty is recouping in court. Small claims is possible, binding arbitration is most likely (depends on your state), and you certainly aren't going to get the full value of the device if you're using it, either.

That said, public statements made about a product absolutely are binding.

Reply Score: 2

RE: Comment by robojerk
by dionicio on Thu 13th Oct 2016 15:02 UTC in reply to "Comment by robojerk"
dionicio Member since:
2006-07-12

Inter-Corp Deals doesn't use to go 'by the word'.

Reply Score: 2

Very responsible journalism, Thom :)
by dionicio on Thu 13th Oct 2016 14:33 UTC
dionicio
Member since:
2006-07-12

And this is not a footnote on second page.

On defense of OSnews Initial PR no doubt was -to say the less- 'misty'.

Reply Score: 2

Thrilled
by fretinator on Thu 13th Oct 2016 18:23 UTC
fretinator
Member since:
2005-07-06

This is very, very good news for the Android ecosystem. Let's hope other device manufacturer's and carriers follow the lead. This was true with the T-Mobile Nexus 4 I had. It was for the most part a generic Nexus phone, and well updated. I've been telling people for years if they really want to compare against the Apple ecosystem, they have to by a Nexus, and now Pixel phone.

However, there is no reason the other manufacturers couldn't join in...except that they see all of their "crap" as a way to differentiate themselves. No, just oh my God please no. I don't want to custom desktop, OS, etc. Just give me a great hardware device, and add some of your cool apps - as easily uninstallable and NOT hindering the OS update from Google.

It's about time they stop Forking with Android.

Reply Score: 2

Talk's cheap.
by Kancept on Fri 14th Oct 2016 14:50 UTC
Kancept
Member since:
2006-01-09

Talk is super cheap. In the phone world, buy it for what it has at the time of purchase, not what it "will have".

Reply Score: 1