Google To Require Android OEMs Deliver Regular Security Updates

Android users have long been concerned that OS security updates for many phones come far too infrequently. Even those who are lucky enough to receive them may not get them often enough, considering they're typically released on a monthly cadence. At Google I/O this past week, however, there was some good news announced in regards to this issue.

Starting with Android P, Google is updating its OEM agreements to ensure that vendors will take security much more seriously, and get those important updates out to users as quickly as possible. Because this was highlighted at Google I/O, and the agreement hinges on Android P, nothing is likely to change with current phones unless a vendor decides to release updates more frequently on its own, but new phones and phones that get updated to Android P should receive the updates.

Pixel 2XL Essential Android P
Android P developer preview on Google Pixel 2 XL and Essential Phone

What's unclear at this point is how long vendors will be required to support their devices. Those who update their phone every year or two won't be as impacted as those with aging devices, and let's be honest -- there are many aging devices still in use.

It's also unclear how often vendors will be required to issue these security updates. While there are fixes each and every month, the official agreement could be once every three months, or every other month, just to ease the workload. However, the updates to the OEM agreement were made partially because Android's architecture has changed to make deploying updates easier.

As the first developer preview of Android P was just released this past week, we're still a ways off from the final launch. That said, it feels like many vendors are taking P (the codename is still up-in-the-air) more seriously, as OnePlus, Essential, and Xiaomi wasted no time getting their builds out the door for select phones. Sadly, the OnePlus build is exclusive to the forthcoming OnePlus 6, so OP fans will be holding out.