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For Windows, Firefox/Chrome, Java, Flash critical updates are issued each couple weeks, and as far my understanding goes, it is REALLY bad not to install them ASAP. For my 3 year old Samsung smartphone, however, there isn't a single OS update. A brief research shows that in most cases you can't upgrade your Android version for most phones in a year or so after release. Given that smartphone in many cases is a very juicy target for hackers, with all two-factor authenthications, email and bank passwords going through smartphone, it sounds very scary that there are basically no updates for OS/firmware.

Is it really scary? If yes, why don't google enforce stricter policy for manufacturers, or don't make OS update by itself? What is situation with iPhones?

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Adobe stop publishing Flash updates to mobile devices over 2 years ago. There is no money in publishing updates to devices after they have been removed from the market which happens within 6-8 after they have been released. Google would love it if Android updates were released to these devices, they could have made it a requirement to have Google Store, Google Mail, ect on the devices but they didn't –  Ramhound Jul 22 '13 at 13:01
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up vote 6 down vote accepted

Whilst I don't believe that there's a definitive confirmation that this is the situation, I'd suggest that the problem with android likely comes down to a conflict of interests between the carrier, handset manufacturer and OS manufacturer.

It's in Googles interests that handsets are upgraded regularly, as it improves peoples perception of the OS and makes app. developers lifes easier (less fragmentation makes easier testing).

However from the handset and carrier perspective, updates are costly. it costs a lot of money to test these updates and push them out so there's a disincentive there for them to do it. Also to an extent they'd rather you buy a new handset instead of getting the features from a free upgrade. That's why in general I think that android updates don't happen for older handsets, or are slow to happen.

Apple have always had a tight control on the whole process so have pushed for the updates to go out reguarly...

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here's some confirmation that this is the situation: theunderstatement.com/post/11982112928/… –  Oleg O Jul 20 '13 at 20:17
    
cool link, that's good info. –  Rоry McCune Jul 20 '13 at 20:45
    
The answer pretty much hits on the heart of the issues. While Google is making steps to try to googleexperiencedevice.blogspot.com with Google experience devices there isn't a guarantee that that would completely remedy the situation. Porting updates to Android to new devices is not always a trivial task. Different hardware, different kernels, different carrier networks in addition to the add-ons and changes that get thrown on top of android by most carriers leads to lots of work/testing to make sure that updates don't break devices in strange ways or degrade the user experience. –  dudebrobro Jul 21 '13 at 1:28
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