Two years ago, I drew up a little comparison between the duration of software support for iOS and Nexus devices, and the differences were stark. Whereas Google only committed to 24 months of OS updates on its flagship phones, Apple typically updates their iPhones for up to 5 years after release. At the time, I was somewhat hopeful that things would improve gradually over time: Google had just formalized the 24-month update policy a few weeks prior, and we were already seeing a few devices like the Nexus 4 and the 2012 Nexus 7 that were being kept up-to-date for 34 or 38 months. Read More
Most OEMs don't have much of a reputation for providing timely and consistent OS updates. There are a few exceptions here and there — LG's V20 is set to become the first non-Nexus smartphone to launch with Nougat sometime around September — but while there may be a growing trend for devices to receive major updates shortly after they're released, it is much rarer to see them getting software support for more than a year or so. Only last year did Google begin promising 3 years of security updates and 2 years of major OS updates for all Nexus phones and tablets — which is still almost half as long as an iPhone's lifecycle. Read More
Software updates are a big deal. They deliver bug fixes, new features, refreshed interfaces, and a lot more. Sure, there might be that feature or two that gets discarded and breaks someone's workflow (relevant xkcd), but for the most part, newer means better. And if software updates are important for apps, that's especially true for operating systems.
Largely due to the proliferation of smartphones, we have come to take free and consistent OS updates for granted. Users assume that a new phone bought this year will still be running the latest OS in the next, and no one expects to have to pay for that software update. Read More