Pixel 8: Guaranteed Updates for the Win

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During the recent launch of the Pixel 8 and Pixel 8 Pro, Google revealed a remarkable feature that sets these phones apart from their competitors. These devices will receive continuous Android OS updates, security updates, and new features for an impressive span of seven years. This ensures that users can enjoy the latest technology advancements for an extended period of time without having to constantly switch to newer models. Ongoing support plays a critical role in the functionality and security of smartphones. It ensures that your device remains up-to-date with the latest security patches, minimizing the risk of vulnerabilities. Google’s announcement about prioritizing ongoing support for their phones is considered a significant development, highlighting its importance in providing users with a secure and reliable experience.

One notable advantage of choosing an Android phone is the promise of ongoing operating system (OS) support. In the past, many Android devices would only receive updates for a limited period, leaving users with outdated software. However, manufacturers are now making efforts to extend OS support for longer periods, ensuring that users can continue to receive system updates and security patches for several years. When it comes to software support and security updates, there are some limitations for the Pixel 7A and Pixel Fold phones recently announced by Google. These devices will receive software support until 2026 and security updates until 2028. However, it’s important to note that this means only three years of guaranteed software updates for both phones. It’s worth mentioning that the Pixel Fold is priced at $1,799.

This support promise from Apple is likely to put pressure on other manufacturers as well. In comparison, Samsung promises four years of operating system updates and five years of security fixes for their Galaxy S23 line, which starts at approximately $800. Additionally, their higher-end Z Fold 5 comes with a higher price tag.While Apple has been known for consistently providing ongoing OS updates, they do not make any promises in this regard. On the other hand, Google’s main competitor in terms of OS upgrades is Fairphone, which guarantees a solid five OS upgrades. However, it should be noted that Fairphone is not a major player in the phone market.

Google has recently made a promise, and there are a few factors contributing to their ability to fulfill it. One notable advancement in Pixel phones is the Tensor chip, developed by Google. This shift allows Google to have more control over the processor and reduces their reliance on manufacturers like Qualcomm for software support on older chips. Fairphone highlighted this issue a few years back, pointing out that it can be a significant obstacle. Given that we are now three generations into the Tensor series, it’s possible that Google could have made this commitment earlier.

Google has been making efforts to break down Android into smaller components, a trend that has become more prominent. With the introduction of Project Treble in Android Oreo, Google created a modular base for the operating system. This approach establishes clear boundaries between different parts of the OS, making it simpler for both Google and third-party manufacturers to add new features without worrying about causing issues with existing ones. Project Mainline was later introduced to address security concerns in a similar way. It aimed to provide timely updates to security features, ensuring that devices stay protected against potential vulnerabilities.

Android features have undergone a change in distribution across different releases. Over time, there has been a decrease in the number of flagship features included in major versions. Instead, these releases focus on a smaller range of technological improvements. Some of these improvements may be delayed and rolled out through feature drops or later updates.

Instead of viewing Google’s promise as seven complete versions of Android, it is more accurate to consider it as a commitment to providing updates for seven years. These updates may contain various improvements and features. Google faces important considerations regarding the feature updates it will provide for its phones. During the recent event, certain software features were restricted exclusively to the Pro phone, leaving questions about what updates other phone models will receive in the future. The commitment to a smartphone might not feel as significant if Google selects and includes certain features on some devices, while excluding them from others without a clear rationale.

Overall, Google deserves praise for making this promise. If they are able to fulfill it, the Pixel 8 series would undoubtedly be among the smartphones with the longest lifespan in this decade.

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