According to a report out of Bloomberg, Google has created a ranking system for Android device manufacturers based on how quickly they are not only updating their phones to the latest versions of Android, but applying the most recent security patches as well. Google has apparently considered publishing their findings, which of course, would be bad for manufacturers, almost all of which are terrible at updating phones in a timely manner.
The report dives into slow updates and how some manufacturers have attempted to improve their timeliness, but carrier involvement has often delayed important updates for months. Some carriers have softened timelines a bit over security patches since big scares, like Stagefright. However, the larger, feature-packed updates are still taking longer than we all want them to. None of this is news to us, as we continually complain about how much of a disgrace most Android phone manufacturers are in the update department. Sure, some have improved in recent years, but we see them all come and go as the shining update stars from time to time and hesitate to crown anyone as even “good.”
But we really just care about whether or not Google will post this ranking system, right? Think about how amazing it would be for consumers to be able to point to Google’s list and then at the manufacturer of their phone to say, “You know what, you are terrible at updating, so I’m not buying another phone from you until you get better.” That’s power I think we all deserve to have.
Google could place a chart or list for this right on their Android distribution page and update it monthly. They already show updated numbers at the beginning of each month for each Android version’s percentage of the pie, so they may as well include the phone manufacturers whose phones are contributing (or not contributing) to each slice.
Quick, someone fire off a change.org petition to force Google into publishing their findings. (That’s sarcasm, by the way.)
In all seriousness, this is something that Google really should do. While it might be a bit of PR disaster for a number of companies on day 1, it should only lead to improvements from everyone in pushing out updates, assuming they care about their public perception and consumers coming back for more. I can’t think of a better way to start turning this all around.