Updates guaranteed

Read any tech blog or listen to any tech podcast over the last year or so, and you'll have found yourself bored to tears by endless chatter about one issue: Android fragmentation. It might sound ultra-nerdy, but if you've got an Android phone, you're probably affected by it.

What it boils down to is this: Google updates its Android operating system for phones and tablets often, but it's up to manufacturers and mobile networks to get the updates to their customers. Manufacturers generally like to 'customise' Android with their own special look and apps, and that needs to be re-done for each update, slowing things down; then mobile networks add a ton more crap, which slows things down some more. The result is that the latest phone version of Android, Gingerbread, is only on a handful of the Android phones out there, and even now - six months after it was released - a lot of Android phones are being sold with old software.

This is nuts, and Google announced yesterday they're taking steps to put a stop to it. They've struck a deal with a bunch of big Android networks and manufacturers to guarantee that new Android phones sold will get every update for at least 18 months after purchase.

They didn't say anything about requiring them to have the latest software when bought, or how quickly updates would have to trickle through, but we're hopeful all of that is in the pipeline. Does this mean a shiny new update for your year-old Android device? Probably not. But it does mean your next Android phone will probably stay up-to-date for almost the length of your phone contract. And that's a good thing.

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