back to article What is this bullsh*t, Google? Nexus phones starved of security fixes after just three years

Google has published timelines for when it will kill off security patches for its Nexus-branded Android line. In a quiet update just before the weekend, the Chocolate Factory revealed both the Nexus 6 and Nexus 9 will no longer receive guaranteed security updates as of October of this year. The Nexus 6P and 5X will stop …

This post has been deleted by its author

My wife's Huawei P9 and daughter's Honor 7 seem to be getting regular updates (not sure if they're from 3 or Huawei), but my S3 (also on 3) never got a single update ever.

I don't use it for banking and social media is accessed via web interface not apps.

Just got to hope I keep being lucky...

0
0
Silver badge

Everyone talks about 'security updates' but no one actually lists what they are, or if they are bug fixes in the operating system or something to do with the multitude of apps available.

If it is for apps then we should be given a list of those vulnerable apps so we can avoid their use. Operating system bugs should be rated by their severity which allows us to decide if we need to root the device and update the OS, assuming the hardware is suitable for the update.

0
0
Orv
Silver badge

This would be security updates for the phone's OS. App security updates are provided by whoever publishes the app.

This gets into a bit of a grey area when it comes to bundled apps, but in the case of Nexus phones those are generally updated through the normal App Store mechanism, not via OS updates.

0
0
Silver badge

Easy...

...I gave up caring.

Worry about it if and when it happens.

0
0

Google Product Line...

So is this a sign of things to come?

Google Car = 3 years of security updates then a hail Mary...

And if Google do it, why would other manufacturers create more work for themselves?

4
0

Re: Google Product Line...

Why would it be? Cars and phones are very different markets, and have very different buying patterns.

I would actually be quite surprised if Google were to sell their cars to be honest. I reckon that once they actually have a workable commercial product, it'll be a leased/rented product only.

0
0

Add another vote for shaming Google for it's lack of regard for (a) customers and (b) the environment. IMO big corporations should be required (or incentivised - whether positive or negative) to avoid obsolesence / waste. Google's "do no evil" applies to this issue. So clearly they don't abide by that promise.

4
0
Holmes

Actually...

The very reason I picked up a Nexus is because they're easy to unlock, root and install custom ROMs on them.

I've been running the stock ROM and updating manually every other month, once the security updates are no longer available from Google, I can switch to a community supported ROM (Pure Nexus, LineageOS, whatever)

3
0
Silver badge

Re: Actually...

But how do you deal with increasing numbers of root-aware apps?

0
0

Re: Actually...

I have not had a real problem with those, i.e. I don't use AndroidPay 'cause I am not that trusting.

Another one, the Chase Banking app asks for root access as the check mechanism, you deny it and it happily starts; but I rather not use it on the phone.

And if really needed, you can use Xposed modules to hide root from selected apps.

0
0
Silver badge

Re: Actually...

As I understand it, Xposed has never been able to reliably block SafetyNet because it uses an external and secured connection (similar to a timing attack used to detect being in a VM--there's no real way to stop this). Only Google or the app maker knows the private key.

0
0
Pint

Smart Phones

I have a flip phone that costs the same as 2 pints of beer. It is not registered in my name and I have never walked mindlessly into a water fountain staring at it. A single charge is good for about a week with modest to little voice usage. It can do voice and text just fine. I don't even care if they ever push out a security update.

I wager my phone is smarter than these fondleslabs.

2
0

My galaxy s2, s4 mini, tab pro all run Android 7.1 with the latest security patch thanks to custom ROMs, and they are today are a great value deal. My nexus 5x will be hitting ebay August 2018 as corporate email will not run on custom OS. Will get another google phone if value proposition exists, but comparing Apple to Pixel today I think I may be getting my first iPhone next year..

1
0

I love you Android, but goodbye.

*hate* using iOS, and I detest so many things about Apple, but my next phone will be an iPhone because I need to *trust* my phone with my banking and privacy.

I have been stung 3 times by Google Nexus:

1. Nexus bought at release with TI CPU that they dropped support for early (no excuses when it cost me *more* than an iPhone did), 2. Nexus 5 where hardware had multiple failures, 3. Nexus 7 2012 with design flaw that Flash performance slowly degrades until device is unusably slow. I have also been stung by Moto (G1 and G3).

Cheap Android's are mostly shitty, buggy, and have obsolete Android. Who wants to get on a treadmill of regular purchases of crappy phones? I don't want to research anything. I have been doing that for years with Android and I ask sick of it. I also need at least 16GB. However I will not use an microSD because I had one fail that caused significant costs to me (the SD card was a good brand from a really reliable source).

I still love you Android, but you have hurt me enough. I am going to go out with your pretty dumb expensive sister next time.

4
0

Re: I love you Android, but goodbye.

So exactly how long would it have taken you to either back up phone and card or just copy contents of card ?

If it was that vital,you should have been doing copy/back up on regular basis.

I hope you don't run a business,I can see you having huge problems in the future if you do..

0
2
Anonymous Coward

Re: I love you Android, but goodbye.

Galaxy nexus 2011 launch price £499.99

iPhone 4s 2011 launch price £599.99

#fail

0
1
Silver badge

Re: I love you Android, but goodbye.

*hate* using iOS, and I detest so many things about Apple, but my next phone will be an iPhone

I recently switched to iPhone, for the same reason, and with the same reservations. By far the biggest pain point for an Android refugee is the lack of file system access. iOS inter-app communication happens through the "share" command, which forces awkward work-arounds for common tasks that are stone simple on Android (e.g., using a 3rd-party app to open, edit, and save a file from cloud storage).

That said -- preventing apps from fscking with the file system (outside of their own userspace) is a big part of the iOS security model. The fruit giveth, and the fruit taketh away.

If you come at iOS like "why won't this POS let me decide where to put a file, like a real computer?" you'll be frustrated. If you modulate that to, "yeah, file management was way easier on Android, but at least now I can install my bank app, and I can choose not to be surveilled by Google," then it's a lot more palatable.

1
0
Silver badge

3 years is ok, but ....

It has to be from date of purchase, not first release. If you are selling these things still in 2016 then you should be still patching them to 2019, even if a particular phone was purchased in 2013.

Windows Vista (released 2006) only ended security patch support a few weeks ago. (And even then you can still wave about a large wad of cash and get updates). Why can't phone makers do the same? If it's a cost thing, I would have paid an additional $100 for "guaranteed monthly security patches for 5 years".

2
0
Silver badge

Re: 3 years is ok, but ....

Why can't phone makers do the same?

They can, but they choose not to. Instead, they take turns swiping each other's disgusted customers. For everyone who buys a Galaxy this time because Moto screwed them, there's someone else buying a Moto G because they got screwed by Sammy. It's the smartphone circle of life.

6
0
Slx
Silver badge

Well, that is the first and last piece of Google hardware I buy.

As much as people love to bash Apple, it doesn't dump you without update support and actually is still supporting pretty ancient iPhones at this stage.

4
0
Headmaster

Why don't you just root your phone afterwards?

I'm running Nougat on my old phones. Just saying.

0
1
Unhappy

Re: Why don't you just root your phone afterwards?

Because not everyone knows how to do this or wants to? Or should even expect to. Although, is there anyone making this a business to help Joe Bloggs consumers keep their phones updated post-OEM death date? Or are they allowed to?

The multiple reasons why I'd never buy an Android phone ever again stacks up now Google has put up the 'can't be arsed flag'. The cluster-mess of OEM vs Google ownership over the phone software, generally complicated setup/usage of Android OS (although it has got better), abuse of skinning Android from certain OEMs to obscure themselves from vanilla Android + spyware/malware/whatevers.

I'm continuing to care more about using devices for the long-term so I don't leave a huge wastage footprint when using electronics and trying to repair them until they die. But, even that is difficult with all manufacturers now using pretty much super glue rather than screws to put them together. Apple's record is not great (and some indie repair shops are exposing that their recycling scheme is just a marketing wall to hide their lack of recycling). I'm sure most Android phones from general consumers go in the draw after 2-3 years because of this lack of support. This 2-3 year support attitude just breeds the culture even more.

We're in such a good age of tech where we really don't need to update every 2-3 years, but companies get away with it by enforcing such stupid policies such as this. Where's the aims to create products that stand the test of time? Yes, the move to flexible ROM/software updates allows addition of new features, but the majority just want something they can use easily and securely.

0
0
Anonymous Coward

Happy

Still another 18 months on my Nexus 5x, by then, it will be long in the tooth and I will be looking for something new anyway...

Given that all Nexus and pixel devices are not only better than an Apple counterpart, have a better security track record , and cost a fraction of the price,

Clearly apple sting users £300 each in upfront support basically, so no wonder they can make old iOS devices just about still run the latest OS versions..

0
1
Silver badge

Re: Happy

I recently upgraded from a nexus 5. It's power button had broken and got stuck in a reboot loop (yes, known issue). So I installed an app to wake up the phone with the volume button instead so I could still use it. Then the microphone stopped working (yes, also known issue). So I got myself a cheap Bluetooth headset so I could still use it. Then the battery dropped so low that I couldn't be more than an hour or so without a charge. It finally died after replacing the battery.

I didn't buy a Google phone because I don't need a 1300AUD telephone.

Your comment may be correct for the nexus but I'm afraid it is not with the pixel. Unless by fraction you are considering numbers greater than one.

0
0

Could it be that security fix requires hardware that is younger than three years old

NT

0
0
Silver badge

Re: Could it be that security fix requires hardware that is younger than three years old

A security fix almost certainly doesn't make the OS require any better hardware than it did before the fix was applied.

If the OS vendor chooses to issue fixes by rolling them into updates that increase functionality, and so may require a different standard of hardware support that would be a different matter ...

... and we would be entitled to shout DON'T DO THAT! (... not that the vendor would take any notice.)

0
0
Linux

Jolla provide Sailfish updates for their Nov 2013 device

Latest update received April 2017. And that's not just security updates - that's almost 3.5 years of regular OS updates.

Sure, the hardware is a bit long in the tooth but it's working fine and I've no reason to upgrade just yet - not until there's better Jolla hardware on the market.

0
0
Bronze badge

I have a cheap Andriod phone ($250) from Motorola, bought when it was owned by Google.

I bought it thinking I was safe from the upgrade/patching mess... nope.

My battery is going... when I'm forced to buy a new one it will be an IPhone SE.

Andriod isn't bad on new phones, but Google half asses things from there on out...

It's no surprise Samsung tried to develop their own OS. Failed.

We'll see if some of these Chinese phones can do better. I bet they can get the Chinese govt to apply pressure on Google...

1
0
Silver badge
Linux

Google to drop security fixes for old version of Android

What's preventing you from upgrading to the latest Android?

0
4
Silver badge

Re: Google to drop security fixes for old version of Android

A slim budget and a need to stay stock due to root-aware apps.

1
0

Re: Google to drop security fixes for old version of Android

you don't have to root. I upgraded my 2012 Nexus 7 last week to the current Lineage release for that device, 7.1, which isn't rooted by default. None of the root aware apps have complained.

1
0
Silver badge

Re: Google to drop security fixes for old version of Android

Not even Android Pay, which ALSO blocks on unofficial ROMs?

0
0
DrM
WTF?

Ben Dover

Hi, we're Google -- bend over.

2
0

Gotta remember who Google are

Google are a data driven company. They make their decisions based on real world data.

So, all these dates show us is that they have the data to show that the vast majority of people change phones every 2 years with a smaller percentage taking up to 3 years (you know, those ones waiting for a specific phone to be released).

So, we can all feign indignation, but Google knows who their target customers are, and these dates won't affect them at all.

1
0
Silver badge

Re: Gotta remember who Google are

So, all these dates show us is that they have the data to show that the vast majority of people change phones every 2 years with a smaller percentage taking up to 3 years

More likely: they used big data to find the shortest possible support time frame, where customers are not quite pissed off enough to change brands at their next refresh.

0
0
Anonymous Coward

3 years is ok for early adopters is it?

It may be, but essentially making the device landfill after this time is economically and environmentally irresponsible.

Never owned a nexus, but I hope Google are offering a responsible recycling/trade in for the devices...

1
0

As others, I have a nexus 5 , easy to root and supported by 3rd party roms, currently running 7.1.1 but got notification the other day that 7.1.2 is available from the repo, so thats faster than my carrier releases updates for their newer phones. Put a new battery in the other week as it had gone bad with age too, remember the howls about non replaceable battery? its trivial to do.

I'm also one of those oddballs that like the Qi charging as on my other devices these seem to wear out, but as I only hook the nexus up to use with ADB its good still. In fact if I spot another at reasonable price I'll probably buy it to put sailfish or another os on to experiment with as its easy to do.

No updates from google != landfill the phone, nor require mass migration to overpriced fruity things.

1
0

Giving up on smartphones

I've looked at my phone usage. Basically I make phone calls and occasionally listen to music/audiobooks. I think I will be backing off to a feature-phone and an mp3 player.

2
0
Silver badge

Re: Giving up on smartphones

I still need something like a smartphone for on-the-spot research. Feature phones just don't cut it (I tried on an N95, thank you. Went to an Android phone and it was like night and day).

0
0

That's still four more years than Sony or HTC.

0
0

My very old HTC hd2 was never even meant to be an android phone (winmo 6.5)

My very old one,with pin cpu and not the stupid solder balls connections is still going strong,and if you head over to xdaforum,you can still get and flash Roma built around android n 7.1.1,

It all depends on wether you trust Rom developers the same as you do htc etc,they all have a crap record for updates that ruin devices,where as I have never had a case of a Rom devoper purposely loading a Rom with malware,that I know of,there are still a lot of users/devs for the hd2,so I work on the usual open source idea of many eyes etc to spot problems,the old beastly can do 90% of what the latest devices can,just a bit slower,but then show me a Samsung s8 that will ever run 15+ different id's including window desktops..the closest thi g there has ever been to a true open source device,the HTC hd2 is a legend with good reason..

1
0

Pretty poor. My Nexus 4 is still going strong after 4 years. Why should we be forced to upgrade after 2-3 years? Not everyone likes to change their phone as often as their pants.

Anyway, I'm shortly replacing mine with a new Moto Z Play. I hope Motorola's updates last longer than that.

1
0
Anonymous Coward

Did everyone forget that the nexus lineup was targeting developers and not primarily consumers.

Did everyone forget that the nexus lineup was targeting developers and not primarily consumers. Anyways, for as long as I remember, Google outright said that they will only update the version for 2 years and security for 3 years and this has stayed the same since the first nexus. Now we're getting a shit storm over them discontinuing updates at there scheduled time whenever they support their devices the longest on any android device outside of modders using a custom rom which still get feature and security updates.

0
0

Google is loosing it, just another multinational!

I have decided not buy a Google phone anymore and I have owned all of them. They have become super expensive and nothing extra. Also look at Google Classic Sites and how they are trying to get everyone to migrate over to Google New Sites which they released prematurely, giving us garbage an insult to true Google users, Its terrible. They are loosing focus of their clients. They have become just another large multinational..

1
0

Is there any Android device with >3 years support? / Custom ROMs

A lot of indignation on here about "only" 3 years support, but are there any Android devices out there with longer support? 3 years is pretty well longer than any typical phone contract (which tend to max out at 2 years, at which point most users upgrade their phone).

Also note that popular Android devices (and the Nexus/Pixel lines are no exception) will have custom ROMs that can extend the updates by a few extra years. My ancient Nexus 10 is on LineageOS 14.1 (Android 7.1.2 - years after Google dropped support) and is working well with it.

0
1

Re: Is there any Android device with >3 years support? / Custom ROMs

"3 years is pretty well longer than any typical phone contract (which tend to max out at 2 years, at which point most users upgrade their phone)."

You seem to forget that there are people who have purchased device under 2-year contract towards the end of the device's lifetime (i.e. let's say 1 1/2 years). If you don't buy the device immediately after release, the typical support timeline doesn't help you in the slightest.

0
0

I can see why they have done it (hard to support an OS on a device where components aren't supported after a short length of time), but I think it really sucks for people who don't purchase it straight after it launches, in particular people who buy it just before it goes off sale.

0
0

I am shocked, shocked!

Really guys, this policy has been know for years now, and you are acting all shocked about it?

Really? They kind of people that read the Register didn't know about this? Really?

The same kind of people don't know that apps like Chrome, who do the actual talking to the internet, still get updates after that period?

Dudes, you are funny, hilarious even.

1
1
Anonymous Coward

This is 2 year old news

Google announced this update plan for Nexus devices back in August of 2015. It was clearly stated then that there would be no guaranteed Android version updates after 2 years, and no guaranteed security updates after 3 years. Then in June of 2016 they began listing end of life dates for Nexus devices on their support site. The only thing that happened this week was Google posting some ending dates. Dates that anyone paying attention would have already known.

I do agree with the common opinion that 3 years is not enough for a flagship phone. However, it is also a lot more than most other devices, even similarly priced flagships, will get. Nexus/Pixel devices also get monthly security updates, which is more often than most others. A large number of devices won't see more than 2-3 updates throughout their lifetime, and very few will see 2 years of Android version updates. I'd rather have a phone that gets updated monthly for 3 years than one that gets an update every 8-12 months for 4 years.

3
0

Page:

POST COMMENT House rules

Not a member of The Register? Create a new account here.

  • Enter your comment

  • Add an icon

Anonymous cowards cannot choose their icon

Forums

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2018