When it comes to the “Android vs. iPhone” debate, it’s typically impossible to get either side to budge. Things get almost as heated as debated surrounding religion or politics. Okay fine, nothing gets as heated as political debates in 2018, but smartphone fanboys still often have an attachment to their platform of choice that borders on being unhealthy. As a matter of fact, if you love your smartphone so much that you actually care what kind of smartphone another person uses or you feel the need to try to influence their opinion of it, you’ve crossed the border into unhealthy. Don’t people have anything better to do these days? But we digress.
While most people’s time and energy would be far better spent elsewhere, picking apart the “Android vs. iPhone” debate is part of our jobs here at BGR. We always try to highlight the differences between the two platforms so that users can make an educated decision when choosing between them. Each platform has strengths compared to the other, but each has its weaknesses as well. And today we’re going to focus on one weakness in particular because it appears as though hardcore Android fans are finally starting to realize how important and frustrating this particular weakness is.
We get a lot of emails from a lot of smartphone fans, and most of them fall into two categories: they’re either from Android fanboys whining about how biased we are against Android, or from Apple fanboys whining about how biased we are against Apple. Yes, that’s correct, we’re biased against both according to fanboys; anytime you say anything at all that’s either positive or negative, that’s apparently an obvious sign of bias.
Lately, however, we’ve begun to notice an interesting trend. More and more Android users are emailing us not to whine about something we’ve written on the site, but to agree with something we complain about quite often here on the site. The state of Android updates in 2018 remains a sad embarrassment, and many users are fed up with the fact that the iPhone is so much better.
In addition to their own comments, several of the emails we’ve received from Android users recently have pointed to the same thread on Reddit.
Titled “While the iPhone gets 5 years of support, my Galaxy S9+ still can’t get timely Security Patches,” the thread was posted in June shortly after Apple unveiled iOS 12. Apple’s new iOS update for 2018 isn’t the most exciting update in terms of new features, but it does pack plenty of refinements and upgrades. The one thing in particular that caught this Redditor’s attention, however, is the fact that iOS 12 will work on every single iOS device that runs iOS 11. That’s right, not a single Apple product was made obsolete by iOS 12, including the 5-year-old iPhone 5.
At the time of this writing, the Reddit thread had more than 5,300 points and over 1,300 comments. Needless to say, someone touched a nerve.
The title of the thread is particularly interesting because the impetus for this post is a delay with Samsung’s release of new security patches. The irony here is that the security patch system was born of necessity. Because Android phones are so painfully slow to receive major software updates, Google and its vendor partners needed a system that would allow them to distribute important security updates more quickly. Security patches can now be delivered independently of big Android version updates, but now vendors can’t even manage to release security patches on time.
It’s a sad state of affairs, and Google created something called Project Treble in an effort to help speed up the release of Android updates. Treble basically separates the core Android code from the layers of customization that vendors apply to Android. This way Android updates can be applied without the need to update vendor-specific features.
Project Treble sounds great in theory, but it remains to be seen how big the impact will be on the Android ecosystem. Only some Android Oreo devices support Treble, and Oreo is currently only on about 12% of Android devices despite having been released almost a year ago. In other words, it will be quite some time before the majority of Android users see any benefit at all from Project Treble, and we have no idea how beneficial it will actually be.
In the meantime, if you’re fed up with the sorry state of Android updates and long-term device support, rest assured that you’re not alone. Check out the aforementioned thread on Reddit, which has become something of a support group.