So many good things are happening with Google’s Android operating system right now. Android P is nearing release and shaping up to be a tremendous update, with plenty of great new features and even more important refinements. And the best part about it is because of Google’s recent addition of Project Treble to the Android platform, a large chunk of users might not have to wait quite as long to get their hands on it. To oversimplify things a bit, Treble separates Android’s core framework from the tweaks made by vendors. This way the Android framework can be updated without vendors having to spend too much time reworking their own software to accommodate the updates. Whereas Android updates used to take between 18 months and two years before they arrived on a majority of active Android devices, Project Treble could cut that down dramatically.
On the hardware front, even more good things are happening. Google is about to release the Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL, its first new smartphones to feature modern designs. As you’ll no doubt recall, the original Pixel and Pixel XL from 2016 were basically carbon copies of the iPhone 6 that had been released two years early. Then last year’s Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL featured an outdated look while other smartphone makers were shifting toward all-screen phone designs. But if you look just past Google’s upcoming new Pixel phones you’ll find an even more exciting new smartphone duo: the Galaxy S10 and Galaxy S10+. These handsets are shaping up to be Samsung’s most exciting new smartphones in years. In fact, they’re so exciting that I almost forgot there’s absolutely no way I’ll ever ditch my iPhone and switch to one.
After a big swing and a miss with the Galaxy S9 and Galaxy S9+ earlier this year, Samsung’s upcoming new Galaxy Note 9 is shaping up to be another boring update that reuses last year’s Galaxy Note design and mixes in a bunch of iterative updates. That formula failed miserably with the S9 and S9+, which were selling so poorly right out of the gate that they saw big price slashes at three major US wireless carriers just one month after they were released. Ouch.
We’re expecting more of the same from the upcoming Galaxy Note 9, but then things should turn around dramatically early next year when Samsung takes the wraps off of its completely redesigned Galaxy S10 line. This new flagship phone lineup will reportedly usher in a major overhaul inside and out. The Galaxy S10 and Galaxy S10+ supposedly sport a new Infinity display that takes up almost all of the front side of the phones, and they’ll be Samsung’s first handsets to include an optical fingerprint scanner embedded underneath the screen itself. The S10 series is also expected to feature major internal upgrades and new cameras, with the larger of the two models rumored to feature a triple-lens camera like the Huawei P20 Pro.
I’m actually quite excited to see what Samsung has in store for us with the Galaxy S10. I’ve been doing this for a long, long time so it’s not very often that I’m excited to see a new smartphone launch. Samsung has a lot to prove after its half-assed flagship smartphone efforts in 2018. But I think the Galaxy S10 won’t just meet our lofty expectations, it’ll exceed them.
And just when I started to tap my temple and think about how this might finally be the phone that pries me away from my iPhone for at least a little while, I got a harsh reminder of why I’ll never switch to Android.
Over the holiday weekend, a reader brought a new thread on Reddit to my attention titled “Malware infected Battery saver app on Play Store infects 60,000 users.” It ultimately leads to a report from researchers at RiskIQ that uncovered some scary malware that had been lurking in the official Google Play store.
The researchers discovered an Android app called “Advanced Battery Saver” that actually works as advertised, killing unnecessary process and extending an Android device’s battery life as promised. The problem is the app also gains access to all sorts of user data (including text messages, IMEI, location information, and more), steals it, and runs an ad-clicker in the background that tricks users into clicking on ads by disguising them. Yup, all this is hiding inside an app that Google allowed to be distributed to more than 60,000 users through its official Android app store before finally removing it.
I’ve discussed why I’ll never switch to Android from the iPhone on numerous occasions here on the site, and there are a number of reasons including Apple’s attention to detail, Apple’s policy of protecting users and their private data, and Android’s lack of timely updates. But the fact that new examples of nightmarish malware pop up constantly because of Google’s lax policies with regard to the Play store is completely unacceptable and impossible to forgive or tolerate. Every user is at risk as a result, and you can read more about this latest example on the RiskIQ blog.