At its first entirely-online WWDC presentation, Apple showed off its latest innovations in software. There are updates to macOS, iOS, iPadOS and watchOS, among others. Although there is a lot to sink your teeth into, one thing stood out above all – iOS 14. And as an avid Android user, it really stings.
No, we’re not going to talk about how iOS 14 will finally add features to Apple’s mobile software that Android has had for five years or more. Widgets on the home screen with different sizes. An app drawer. Picture-in-picture video. Stop me if you’ve seen this before.
The most important part of the entire iOS 14 presentation isn’t a specific feature, design change, or app enhancements. It is the list of Apple phones that will receive the update when the new version of iOS drops.
Confirming previous reports, all devices that are currently running iOS 13 will receive the update to iOS 14. That means that the iPhone 6S will receive the latest update – a phone from 2015! It is a major advantage of iOS over Android, who is doing really badly in comparison.
There is really no comparable Android device. Not one that will get this year’s Android 11 that was built before 2017 – and the vast majority of 2017 Android devices won’t get it. If you buy an Android device, not only will you not receive Android version updates beyond two years, it will take the manufacturer at least six months to get it to you (unless you own a Google Pixel, OnePlus, or other phone running close to stock Android).
This is mostly due to manufacturers taking Android and making it their own – changing it to look and feel like they see fit – known as fragmentation. They take advantage of Android’s inherent features built by Google, then add their own flavours and changes. It means that once Google releases a new version of Android, they have to take the base code and update all their extra bits and pieces before they can push it out to users, leading to this delay. It also means that they don’t want to take the time and effort to do those updates for older phones, rather using their resources to update only their latest phones.
Another unintended consequence of this lack of, and delay of Android updates is that developers don’t want to take advantage of the new features the platform brings, because there won’t be many phones or users that can take advantage of it. It means that more often than not the iOS version of an app will be better than its Android counterpart. It’s all a sad state of affairs.
This is why the Google Pixels or phones running close to stock Android is such a compelling buy. They may not have all the flashy features, but they will run the latest Android software first and for longer.
Honestly, I think we deserve better. We should be getting Android updates for the same amount of time that you get on an iPhone, and just as quickly. But as long as we only use phones for a couple of years before upgrading, I can’t see that happening anytime soon.