Qualcomm Snapdragon 888

Google and Qualcomm promise three-year major Android updates

Qualcomm will guarantee three years of major operating system upgrades and four years of security updates.

Google and Qualcomm are working together to extend the lifecycle of new Android devices, meaning future phones could receive as many as three major operating system updates provided they’re running the latest Snapdragon silicon.

This is good news for Android users. Google and Qualcomm have decided to work together to provide long-term updates dedicated to premium Android smartphones. For now, Qualcomm will guarantee three years of major operating system upgrades and four years of security updates. The process will start with the Snapdragon 888, but later expand to all Snapdragon chipsets. Snapdragon 888 will support Android 11, 12, 13 and 14.

For well over a decade, timely Android updates have proven to be Google’s unassailable white whale. Whereas iPhone users get the latest iOS update on the day of release, those in the Android camp are at the mercy of their device’s manufacturer, who may choose to issue a late release, or might not bother at all.

This is largely a consequence of Google’s growth strategy for Android, which focused on the software while taking a hands-off approach when it came to the actual implementation by OEMs. Vendors have final say on software updates, as well as whether to add extras that could complicate future updates, such as bundled software and UI customisation.

The streamlined approach works by cutting legacy baggage. While device requirements for Android updates through Project Treble were never retroactive, that now extends to the systems-on-chip in Snapdragon devices, too. A chip designer like Qualcomm can support the same Android implementations for both new devices and updates, greatly reducing the number of software combos they have to support.

Qualcomm said,

The enhancements are intended to enable Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) to upgrade their Snapdragon based devices to the latest Android OS without modifying Qualcomm Technologies’ chipset-specific software and to use a common Android software branch to upgrade devices based on a wide range of Snapdragon mobile platforms across Qualcomm Technologies’ portfolio.  These enhancements are designed to reduce the time and resources required to upgrade Snapdragon based devices to the latest Android OS version.

David Burke, vice president of Android engineering, Google added,

“Google continues to work closely with our technology partners to increase the freshness of the Android ecosystem. Through this collaboration with Qualcomm Technologies, we expect that Android users will have the latest OS upgrades and greater security on their devices,”

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