Article on Android update pains

The article (op-ed) below sketches a clear picture of some of the difficulties with getting Android updates available all the different devices. These issues apply to FairPhone as well. Might be an interesting read for those who don’t understand why FairPhone is stuck at Android 4.2


Good one!
The only thing I miss from the article u linked is that the oems and even google do have a gain from the missing updates. For example, I was buying a new phone because my old LG was stucked at 2.2 Froyo with 0 updates received in his life, cyanogenmod saved me, but it doesn’t matter, lots of my friend chenged their phone because of gingerbread…

I was reading an interesting article the other day (can’t remember what/what it was!) but it was about the fact that Android fragmentation being a problem for developers was now becoming a myth - not because the Android market isn’t fragmented (cause it is!) but because Google have come up with a better way of addressing the situation. Instead of basically working to the lowest common denominator all the time (thereby stopping apps progressing) that have been integrating more and more functionality into the google play services. This is how for example they intend to make all versions of android work with Android Wear - very clever me thinks.

Anyhow, I thought this contributed to this discussion on the Android update headache and why ultimately it might not be such a bad thing that we can’t upgrade to kitkat -doesn’t solve the other issue that we’re currently locked to Android OS :wink:

The article states that it is getting “better” because Google relies more on its own Services and Google Play. But doesn’t that mean that, regardless if Fairphone gets Android updates or not, they would not be of much use if you don’t have Google Apps installed?

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Yeah, more and more is moved to Google Play Services, which is updateable on its own. For instance, the launcher and home screen used to be part of Android, but in 4.4 this was moved to the Google Search app and AOSP 4.4 doesn’t have its own launcher anymore.

I heartily agree with @Stefan. If Google’s control of the Android world means that we cannot escape from Google’s ‘helpful’ services, there’s a bleak future ahead.

I eagerly embraced Google’s search engine almost 15 years ago (anyone else remembering AltaVista?). And with my first Android phone I signed up for an account. I have a gmail address, I use Maps and Play Store. But that’s about it. On my phone I’ve disabled most Google apps: Gmail, Bookmark sync, Calendar sync, Contacts sync, Search, Google+, Picasa…

I find it a little bit too inconvenient to stay away from Google altogether. But I want the relation to be on my terms and I want to stay in control. That’s why I loathe apps and functions where my phone (or PC) tries to guess what I want to do (which is why I don’t see KitKat as God’s gift to humanity).

Thanks for sharing the article @Jerry! Very interesting read. I actually wasn’t aware of Play Services having this big role/influence. With my last smartphone I was still stuck at Android 2.3 Gingerbred and the old Android Market. So I’m rather new to the Play Store and the Play Services and all the updates Google made with the newer Android versions.

This is a pretty big worry for me. While I’m currently using some of Google’s services I was entertaining the idea of trying a life without it after I saw the respective topic (Alternative Apps(tores): Living without Google) here on this forum. But now it seems like a risky move to live without Google Play Services.

@Kris_S Like I said in the other thread, it is still possible to not use Google Services. But I also share your worries about future Android releases. Can it really be that the only way to maintain a secure smart phone is by using Google Services? It is time that Mediatek moves a bit and makes Custom ROMs possible!

@Stefan I think you’re approaching this from the wrong angle.
The thing is, functionality is moved from bare bones Android to the Google Play Services and individual apps. This makes those bits of functionality easier to update (because it doesn’t require an OS update). However, this doesn’t make your phone less secure, because those bits of functionality are simply missing from the AOSP release. In other words: what’s not there can also not contain security holes.

If you want functionality provided by Google Play Services without using Google Play Services, you’ll need to replace them with some alternative.

@Jerry Did I understand it correctly, that this then means the bare bone Android will be even “cleaner” since these certain bits of functionality are integrated into the Google Play Services? So the user (when he decides not to use Google Play Services) actually has more of a say in what he really wants in functionality and can then install specific alternatives as he needs them?

@Jerry : That is true but we Fairphoners are stuck with Android 4.2. Are the FPOS updates enough to keep the current Android version secure?

@Kris_S which then would be an advantage, wouldn’t it? :slight_smile:

I guess so, although it’s a slippery slope.
It might be that certain API functions are moved from the OS to Google Play Services and Google might put its foot down on people trying to emulate these API functions by custom implementations of these functions. Practically this situation would mean that if you don’t choose for Google, you don’t have access to certain functions of your phone.

I’m drawing a bit of a doomsday scenario here, and Google might take (and probably already has) a far more relaxed attitude towards this, but I guess this scenario is possible. I really don’t know where Google wants to go with Android.

I’m not sure. I don’t know enough about the technical subject matter to make an assessment of this (despite being a Java software engineer myself). I just hope the KwameCorp developers are able to take some of the fixes Google has applied in 4.3, 4.4 and upcoming Android versions and can apply them to the 4.2 FairPhone OS codebase. It would be nice if FairPhone could tell us a bit about this in a blog post or something.

Well said, @Jerry. There are several threads already on this forum, and more on the old, concerning “the future of the OS” questions. I’d really like to hear from the developers themselves what’s going on in the background. Even if the infamous MediaTek binary blobs are not going away, I’d really like to know what’s happening on the future/security side. Wouldn’t it be fair for the developers to have the opportunity to explain what obstacles they have to circumnavigate they build a better, more secure FairPhone OS/AOSP for us? :slight_smile:

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