FCC is prodding into slow Android updates
It’s a no-brainer that your Android smartphone is most probably running on an older version of the Android Operating System. According to the monthly update that was released by Google regarding the number of devices running the different versions of the mobile operating system, only 7.5 percent of the Android devices are updated to the latest version, the Android 6.0 Marshmallow.
We all know that it can take months for Android devices to receive critical software upgrades and now the Federal Communications Commission wants to know why. Apparently the Feds themselves are “fed up” with the slow security updates on Android devices and launched an official inquiry.
The FCC published an announcement where it is planing to investigate mobile carriers and mobile device manufacturers on the matter of the safety of the Android operating system. The federal commission launched the investigation on Monday to determine how and when updates for Google’s Android operating system are released for end users. The federal agency has partnered up with the Federal Trade Commission to conduct the inquiry to collect information from major smartphone makers and mobile network service providers.
So far, the agencies have requested information from the following mobile phone manufacturers and wireless carriers: AT&T, Apple, BlackBerry, Google, HTC, LG, Microsoft, Motorola, Samsung, Sprint, T-Mobile, TracFone, U.S. Cellular and Verizon about how manufacturer security patches are distributed and reach the end users. The FCC, in a public statement said both agencies’ goal was “to better understand, and ultimately to improve, the security of mobile devices.”
“There have recently been a growing number of vulnerabilities associated with mobile operating systems that threaten the security and integrity of a user’s device, including “Stagefright” in the Android operating system, which may affect almost 1 billion Android devices globally,” the organization stated in a release.
The security of Android devices has been an issue since the Operating System’s release. Google has been releasing monthly security updates to be patched on to the devices of end users over the air. These updates are first seeded to OEM’s and mobile carriers so that they can patch up the bugs. Only after the completion of this procedure, the updates are sent to the supported mobile devices. The Nexus devices are famous for getting these updates before every other device as Google has complete control over their own hardware and software.
Android smartphone manufacturers are partly to blame for this trend of delays in the availability of software security updates to the end users. Whenever a new version of the Android operating system or a security patch is released by Google, it is the manufacturer’s responsibility to get the update to their existing devices. But the manufacturers release these versions at different times, reserving the newer updates for their flagship and higher end models in order to lure the customers to purchase them and boost their sale figures. It is good that the FCC and FTC are taking the steps to improve the security of Android smartphones.