Our readers in the comments often raise the topic of absence smartphone update to the Android operating system, regardless of their value. Our foreign colleagues from Ars Technica also ask this question and decided to thoroughly examine the issue, to find out what is the hidden root of universal evil. We offer translation of a remarkable article.
Before the start of the study once it is necessary to draw attention to the fact that not all of the major manufacturers of Android-smartphone are eager to share their plans to upgrade to the next version of Android. And if you carefully analyze the official lists of Sony, Google, HTC and others, you will notice that they all share one very important point. They are no more than a single smartphone, or two years ago. Unfortunately, that is the norm for the Android ecosystem. And it seems that it is the fault not only “lazy” smartphone manufacturers who have too little incentive to provide quality support for all that you have already sold. The Sony, for example, working on Android 7.0 Nougat for Xperia Z3 released in the “distant” 2014 and even added it to the official developers’ program for the transition to Android 7.0. . Just in order to remove it from the list of supported at the stage of testing the latest beta versions and final release Nougat
After immersion in the topic and communicating with competent people, we have to recognize the unpleasant fact: to release the actual official update for using Qualcomm Snapdragon processor 800 or 801 devices (including Z3), is a very difficult , or is absolutely impossible . And this is very important, because these two processors are used in almost every flagship Android-sold at the end of 2013 to the end of 2014 and a few more recent devices. And this situation has far-reaching implications for the Android ecosystem
Although it may seem tempting -. Lay the blame on any one particular company – on Google, primarily for the creation of a frank mess with updates on the Qualcomm for refusing to support older processors or smartphone manufacturers who are responsible for the failure to keep up with the new software – in fact, to blame all
How is an official update Android
This a bit old at this point, infographics released by HTC a few years ago, is one of the best illustrations (more information can be found here ) that is a major upgrade of Android. On a fairly early stages of this process chip makers such as Qualcomm must decide which line of SoC products they own will be officially supported. “Supported” chips get new GPU-optimized and tested drivers, modem, and other important components of the system-on-chip, then the chip maker released updated software to the universal platform support package (Board Support Package), distributed among smartphone manufacturers. As a result, the BSP, the source Android code from Google, and all provided OEM-applications and shell komponiruyutsya and sent to consumers as Android updates that can be installed provided that the smartphone has met Google’s compatibility requirements.
One of the main the causes confusion with Android updates is that all these companies must agree to develop and issue this update together – and if at any stage of the chain something goes wrong, the update can not take place until the complete stop of the development process .
Based on their own research of the author Ars Technica (and interviews with the participants, who preferred not to be named), it seems that the main barrier to the Android 7.0 update on older devices, is that Qualcomm does not provide support for Snapdragon processors 800 and 801. When asked about the company directly support these Nougat SoC, the official press service said:
Qualcomm Technologies, Inc. It is working closely with our customers to determine the devices that are supported by different versions of the Android OS on our chips Snapdragon. Duration of support processor and the upgraded version of the operating system available for a particular model is determined in collaboration with our customers. We recommend that you contact the device manufacturer or carrier of information on the support for Android 7.0 Nougat.
This statement does not confirm that Qualcomm refuses to implement Nougat support in their old chips, but the company is trying to shift responsibility to their customers (ie OEMs). Simply put, Qualcomm’s company is able to provide Nougat support for older processors, but as a small number of Android-smartphone manufacturers actually update request, Qualcomm’s decided not to bother it.
Why is this important?
This is definitely not the first time that the All Android-device realizes a premature death due to lack of hardware support and driver. Recall, for example, Galaxy Nexus. His life was cut short when the manufacturer Texas Instruments left the market ARM-chips. “It was really an extraordinary event” – a few months later, said Dave Burke, to develop in the vice president of Google and Nexus Program Manager – “The developer simply left the market, and the building was not a soul with whom you could talk”
in this case, the difference lies in the fact that Qualcomm is not Texas Instruments and is not going anywhere. The company is still not only alive and well, and dominates the market for high-performance ARM-chips, and this statement is two or three years ago, it was more relevant than today. And if you buy a flagship Android-smartphone, most likely, it will be a smartphone on the Qualcomm platform
This means that the company is extremely important in this chain -. If it decides not to update Android, chooses not to release driver for this chip, it is reflected in the huge number of users. This attitude becomes a model for other manufacturers: if a market leader does not support their processors for longer than two or three years, why smaller players such as MediaTek, Samsung, and others should worry about this
And here is created a vicious? circle – in practice manufacturers (usually) no longer update their smartphones after one or two years of existence. Consequently, chipmakers are no longer to worry about over a year servicing its platforms or two, and so manufacturers not are to upgrade their smartphones over a year or two, even if they wanted. From here comes the 18-month minimum figure, which Google over the past 5 years, tacitly and callously brought from “minimal” to “in the best case” scenario. However, users do not buy a new smartphone in the day of the official start of sales to suffer even more, because most devices refresh period is determined by the start-up period and not on the date of withdrawal of the model from the market
The missing piece of the puzzle:. Compatibility test
Some of Sony’s employees worked on Nougat support for Xperia Z3, and raised other issues concerning the compatibility of Android 7.0, and old equipment. One of them frankly admitted that some “technical and legal” barriers prevented the final version of the firmware with Android 7.0 for the Z3, and later in the same subject said that the smartphone has not passed a set of tests on the compatibility of Google (CTS). The topic was also attended by some of the assumptions that CTS for Android 7.0 devices required to support the new graphics API Vulkan and, therefore, lack of Qualcomm GPU driver updates for the Snapdragon 800 and 801 does not allow them to meet specific requirements. This explanation is erroneous for several reasons – for example, Nexus 9 does not support Vulkan, and at the same time is fully compatible with Nougat. Plus, the old equipment can not simply add support for this API as the Vulkan, any low-cost way, if only the graphics processor was not designed with this in mind the conditions. GPU Adreno 400 th and 500 th series system-on-chip Snapdragon 805 and above already support the new the API, but the GPU Adreno 300 series in Snadragon 800 and 801 – definitely not, it does not matter, updated drivers or not
Google has also changed the essence of CTS for Nougat. Previous versions of CTS have been focused mainly on the fact that Android has worked as intended, OEM-producers to make changes to the appearance and operation of the device, but the API Google were to remain pristine. Thanks to this application to work properly at all sanctioned by Google, Android-devices. The new CTS-version Nougat focuses on performance and equipment stress tests, tests, provided that Google wants to be updated before the Nougat smartphone to meet certain minimum performance requirements.
The updated document on the definition of Android compatibility would give us more information about what kind of requirements, but Google so far has not found time to publish it. And without it can only guess: whether Google in one form or another have improved Android performance requirements, with which the Snapdragon 800 and 801 fail (perhaps this is due to the low productivity of encryption data warehouse if Nougat closes this loophole – paragraph , which was Marshmallow optional). Is it the lack of updated, stable drivers from Qualcomm for Nougat somehow leads to a crash when running compatibility tests.
How about security updates?
Everything that we said still applies mainly to major upgrades Android, which adds a new API and make changes at the system level. But over the last year or so, Google also offered small monthly security updates specifically for the fight against high-level vulnerabilities to take ridiculous names, like «Heartbleed» or «Quadrooter». Producers probably do not need to develop new drivers to apply these security patches, so you can install them without having the latest, the best version of Android. Google claims that the corrections can be set to “at least three latest Android release» (KitKat, both versions of the Lollipop and Marshmallow). Presumably, some of the most older versions of these updates will be irrelevant after Nougat release, and we do not undertake to predict what will happen with Google promises about release of new patches, when Android will move to a more frequent and regular updates. But at least now you do not need to have on hand the latest version of Android, to get new security patches.
To summarize and remember all those who to blame when you set why your smartphone two years ago will not get Android 7.0 Nougat:
- Manufacturer of your smartphone for disgusting providing support outdated smartphones and slow update current
- , Qualcomm and other chip makers,. that in response to the lack of demand OEMs completely refused to support processors older than three years.
- Google Company, for probably increased demands on productivity and Android certainly guilty for making such a chaotic situation. With updates in the first place.
If your smartphone is running Lollipop or Marshmallow did not wait for the update, which means that its manufacturer or your contract mobile operator guilty of this in the first place (and the sad news is that the plans of many manufacturers regarding updates in the best case to be determined).
and for those who still wish to update your device to someone who is willing to put up with a certain instability and security issues, use the updates that do not require passing the test for compatibility, the installation of third-party firmware, such as the CyanogenMod, can give such an opportunity (for example, Samsung Galaxy S2 got the Android 6.0 support). Unfortunately, this option does not seem realistic for most people, deceived by manufacturers, which they gave their blood
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