Android – should you use it? 

After years on the market we can say one thing for sure:

The global players in the phone market are Apple and Android.

Nokia was forced to accept this and later BlackBerry followed while Microsoft is still fighting a fight they can’t win.

Apple is far ahead compared to Android when it comes to the hardware + software (OS) combination but i believe it will never defeat Android and that’s good.
Apple is hardware vendor and software vendor in one. That’s the reason why these both components are so outstanding good working together – besides the very easy way of integrating new hardware + software.

Android instead is “just” software. It’s made to run on many hardware devices not just one specific. This job is incredible much harder to achieve and so the challenge is not only to write and invent new features in software but each hardware vendor needs to adapt Android to its own new hardware features with sometimes more sometimes less success.

Then when it comes to support another big difference comes into the play: Apple (again because of its position) can support even very old devices with new features and security patches. Android devices are a complete different story. Google as the main company developing Android doesn’t cares about hardware (this changes currently but more on this later) and they do not care about long (what are 2 years..) life cycles even not for security patches (as long it’s not a Google device).

This is not where the story ends as for Android we have hardware vendors and then also mobile carriers (Network Mobile Operators) as well. Let’s say LG releases a new device. They will offer multiple types of this: an unbranded, one branded for T-Mobile and one for Verizon. The hardware is the same and the Android base too but those carriers begin now to modify Android to their “needs”. Integrating own app stores, launcher, etc. So when Google updates Android – LG will update its unbranded model and (maybe) telling the carriers to do the same (while they don’t force them to do so).

At this stage LG itself is not responsible anymore for the other branded models as they have updated their unbranded one and the carrier is responsible to do the same. This goes for regular Android bugs and features but also more important for security fixes as well. Unfortunately not every carrier is performing well and when it comes to the security patches some even don’t care (long).

The most important thing is Google decides to stop to implement security patches after a (too) short time and carriers don’t do the work Google had done before. This leaves many devices with security patches from sometimes years ago and so vulnerable to many exploits.

As one can see quickly these critical issues need to be solved and they need to be solved at different stages. Google should either support security patches for longer time or define LTS ( long term support) versions of Android i.e. for 5 years. Vendors should take their responsibility more seriously and help in fixing security bugs more intensively and force carriers to do the same.

I can’t see that this will happen soon… or tbh ever. Vendors and carriers only take care about making profit the most efficient way. Security is nothing where they really believe in. Google do not want to support many Android versions for a long time which is understandable so something like LTS can help but there are no known plans for this way…

One thing had changed since Google started to not only sell own hardware but more and more began to gain influence in making the hardware. Do you see what happens? Right, Google had understood (after many years) that the only way to get the best out of Android is to bring in own hardware.

.. many things speak against in using Android but many things had changed and still changing.

So.. Should you really use Android these days? 

The answer is definitely: yes. But..

… take care of the vendor. Choose it wisely and watch the Google hardware plan. The idea being a hardware and software vendor is the best approach to solve many issues but without a long support cycle it will still fail.

… or (which is nothing for the average user) if you want to be free like I want to be build and use a custom ROM with a big support base like lineage or aoscp. These take usually care much longer then Google or a vendor does because profit is not the engine here. One more reason to choose Open Source.

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