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Google to rank OEMs based on speedy updates: report

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Google has compiled a list of (Original Equipment Manufacturers), ranking them based on how up-to-date their handsets are, reports Bloomberg. It takes into account the security patches and operating system version present in phones to formulate manufacturer rankings. Google hopes that this will provide OEMs with enough motivation to start prioritizing Android updates in future.

The report mentions that Google has shared this list with Android partners earlier this year, and has discussed making it public to highlight manufacturers that provide quick updates and shame ones that are slow, or don’t provide one. However, it’s not clear when the company will make this list public, if at all.

Currently the Android market is heavily fragmented with everything from Android 2.2 to Android 6.0 in circulation on various phones. This results in a vast majority of the phones unable to access security patches to known vulnerabilities, the latest Google services or new OS features. This hurts Google’s bottom line as well as developers, as they end up developing not only for various screen sizes and resolutions but also for significantly different versions of Android. Users are also doomed to use an unpatched phone with the only other choice being to buy a new phone.

The Android Developer platform provides an illustration of how fragmented the Android market is. Note that the data used to create the above chart was collected from the new Google Play Store app, which only supports Android 2.2 and above.

Android

Google has been working on fixing Android fragmentation for a while, but given that only 7.5% of Android phones sport Marshmallow, an update that is 7 months old, it’s a problem that is not going away anytime soon. In order to encourage regular updates from OEMs, in August last year, the company announced that it would provide monthly patches for its Nexus devices in addition to regular system updates. Earlier this month, Samsung followed suit in committing to release a maintenance build, but only for major flagship models.

Other developments:

– Last month, a US federal jury concluded a month-long trial between Google and Oracle by ruling that Google did not infringe Oracle’s copyrights in any manner and that the use of 37 Java APIs on Android OS was protected by “fair use”.

– In April this year, the European Union antitrust commission concluded that Google abused its dominant position by imposing restrictions on Android device makers. Note that Russia passed a similar ruling in October last year.

– In April this year, Google launched Android Auto in India and 17 other countries including Russia, Chile, Brazil, Switzerland, Ecuador, Uruguay etc. The initiative is already available in Australia, US, UK, France, Canada, Ireland, Germany and Spain among others.

Image source: Flickr user ScaarAT under CC BY NC-2.0

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