Major updates of Android don't matter as much as they used to. Many components of the operating system are updated through the Play Store, so even if you're on Android 8 or 9, you can still access most of the same apps and features as someone on the latest release of Android 10. However, the security updates that Google releases on a monthly basis are still critical to keeping your phone or tablet safe. Dozens of securityflaws are discovered in components of Android each month, which is why Google releases monthly security patches.
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The Pixel 4a is an incredible phone, and not just for the money. With an incredible camera, a new design that feels much more modern, and amazing battery life, Google really did knock it out of the park with its new budget Pixel. Seriously: this is a damn good phone. But we wouldn't be proper phone nerds if we didn't nitpick, and there are a few areas where we think Google could take the Pixel 4a from a 9.5 to a perfect 10 in our book. Here are five additional features we'd have loved to see in the Pixel 4a.
Critics of Android are always quick to point out its very real fragmentation issue, and how long it takes for major version updates to land across the ecosystem. But it's less of a problem with every major update, and that's culminated with last year's Android 10 release. Between Treble, GSIs, and Project Mainline, Google has been making a good dent in update uptake in the last two years, and Android 10 has seen the fastest adoption of any Android update ever.
OnePlus is now publishing updates to its Game Space app on the Play Store — something it has already done for its other proprietary OxygenOS apps and a move that a number of OEMs have taken as well. With the migration, updates can come quicker than firmware updates and the beta app gains two new features.
According to a change recently made to Google's Vendor Test Suite (VTS) spotted by our friends at XDA Developers, Google will require that all devices launching with Android 11 support seamless updates. More specifically, the VTS will check that devices running Android 11 and later support virtual A/B partition structures (which allow seamless updates), and fail if that support isn't present. Since devices must pass the VTS to ship with Google's apps, that effectively means that Android manufacturers will have to support seamless updates on devices that launch with Android 11.
Keeping current with system updates is the single most important thing you can do to keep your phone safe, and long ago, installing those updates was an incredibly slow process. But back in 2016, Google tried to make things better with new "seamless updates" that made it an easy background process — you could even use your phone as they installed. Since then, most phone manufacturers have come around to the idea, with one very big exception: For whatever reason, Samsung refuses to give its phones the feature. Even its latest, $1,400 Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra uses decidedly non-ultra, antiquated, super-slow updates that knock your phone out of commission for a solid 3-15 minutes as they install.
The second Android 11 Developer Preview rolls out today, and though it still isn't meant for general consumption just yet, it introduces quite a few new technical tweaks that app-makers and Android enthusiasts will enjoy playing with. While we start digging for undocumented changes, we already have a small list of tweaks to peruse in this latest release.
Google's new, less intrusive Assistant is already available on the Pixel 4, but the redesign it received has mostly affected the voice command interface. The updates tab, Google Now's spiritual successor, kept the same look. Now, Google appears to be testing an overhauled dashboard with more gradients and chronological organization.
The greatest long-term issue with Chromebooks is their fixed lifespan — unlike PCs, where operating system updates are not tied to specific devices, most Chromebooks only get between 5-6 years of updates. It started to look like Google was finally trying to change that last year, when the company gave most Chromebooks another year of software support, and now Google says at least some Chromebooks released this year will get eight years of updates.