Home Android This year’s biggest Android upgrade disappointment

This year’s biggest Android upgrade disappointment


To say this year’s Android upgrade performance has been a letdown would be one heck of an understatement.

Sure, you could point out the widely cited stats showing that Android 11’s adoption is the best of any recent Android version in terms of how many phones are running the software as of this six-month mark. And sure, that’s certainly something.

But you know what? That’s a pretty frickin’ low bar to set. When we’re talking about a major new Android release — software that’s filled with important privacy- and security-related enhancements that affect how both Android itself and third-party apps are allowed to interact with your data — merely having a fifth of all Android phones running the thing half a year after its release isn’t exactly a win worth celebrating.

My data-driven Android 11 Upgrade Report Card says it all. Using the same standard formula I’ve relied on to grade Android device-makers for nearly a decade now (related: I am 700 years old), I found that outside of Google, every major U.S. flagship phone-maker did enough to earn only a D-level or flat-out failing grade with its Android 11 upgrade deliveries. The second-place score in this year’s ranking was a measly 68% D+. And things only get worse from there.

Even so, what’s listed in that latest Report Card isn’t the biggest disappointment of all. Yes, everyone outside of Google can and should do better at getting current software out to their highest-paying customers in a reasonably timely manner — but quite frankly, at this point, most of those letdowns are more or less expected.

The biggest disappointment is actually something that’s just a tiny asterisk in the sea of Android — something not even significant enough to earn a place in that Upgrade Report Card analysis. But it’s something that had represented a tiny glimmer of promise in the bigger Android picture and something I had hoped would be a shining highlight of this conversation.

I’m talking about the way Microsoft — yes, Microsoft! — is handling software support on its first and thus-far-only self-made Android product, the pricey and unusual Microsoft Surface Duo.

The Surface Duo?! Who cares — right? Believe me, I get it. Microsoft’s inaugural Android hardware effort hasn’t exactly been a home run or a phone that’s made anything more than a pebble-sized splash in the greater Android ocean. But as I’ve said from the start, the story of the Duo is less about the admittedly imperfect specifics of this single initial product and more about the broader view of what it could show us about Microsoft’s mobile ambitions — what it could lead to, in other words, with future generations of devices.

Copyright © 2021 IDG Communications, Inc.


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