The Best Thing About Pixel 6 Might Not Be The Hardware | #android | #security


Google has all the tools it needs to deliver at least five years of software updates with the Pixel 6 series, and it shouldn’t risk not delivering.

Leaks relating to the Pixel 6 have flooded the internet over the past few weeks and months, but the software improvements could end up being more important than the hardware upgrades. To be specific, the five years of assured software updates. That is not to take anything away from the work Google has done with the Pixel 6 series’ hardware, coming up with a design that truly stands out in the sea of slabs dished out by other smartphone makers.

The company has made no secret about its admiration for the design either, showcasing the phone even before its official launch. Google has already made bold claims about the AI and ML capabilities of the Tensor chip and has also touted advanced camera capabilities for its upcoming flagships. However, a key selling point of Pixel phones has always been its software, which blends a clean UI with a bunch of exclusive features and long-term software updates.


Related: What To Expect With The Tensor Chip Powering The Pixel 6 Pro

The latter part is about to get even better with the debut of the Pixel 6 series. Carphone Warehouse recently put up a microsite for the Pixel 6 series that was live for a good few hours before being pulled. In the sea of content praising the Pixel 6 duo, the materials also mentioned five years of Android updates. The fine print, however, clarified the situation — five years of Android security updates. In other words, it is unclear exactly how many Android version upgrades the new Pixel phones will get. Google’s current support document says Pixel phones get ‘Android version updates for at least 3 years’ following their release, which means the Pixel 6 should at least reach the Android 15 stage.

Longer Update Cycle Is Not A Pixel Perk, But A Necessity

Google might very well extend the software support duration beyond three years, as the ability to lengthen the update period is one of the possible benefits of using an in-house chip. While this is a formula already used by Apple, Google is unlikely to be able to outdo the iPhone-maker on this, at least not with its first attempt. The iPhone 6S was launched in 2015 and still received the iOS 15 upgrade in 2021. In comparison, the Qualcomm chip-based Pixel 5 arrived in 2020, but Google hasn’t guaranteed any updates for it— OS or security — after October of 2023.

However, it’s not just the Tensor chip that would allow Google to offer extended software support on the Pixel 6 series, as the foundations were laid years in advance. Project Mainline made its debut with Android 10 in 2019 and was the first step (following Project Treble) towards speeding up Android updates. Since then, the company has been building on the idea with its Android Generic Kernel Image (GKI) handing over more control at the Linux kernel level to Google. Pixel 6 will be the first mass-market device on which GKI will be implemented as part of Android 12’s package.

With more control over the software update future of Pixel phones, and even if Google delivers five years of security updates for its Pixel 6 duo, it won’t be a standout achievement. Yes, it’s an improvement over the Pixel 5, but even the likes of Samsung have now promised four years of software updates, and its list includes budget Galaxy-A series phones and tablets as well. Enhancements made to Project Treble will allow many Qualcomm-based phones to receive four Android version upgrades starting with Android 11. Therefore, it won’t just be Samsung, but a handful of other OEMs offering longer-term updates for their phones. Ultimately, this shrinks the breathing space for Pixel smartphones, which have long touted extended software support as one of their selling points.

With five years of assured security updates, Google might push at least four years of Android version updates to the Pixel 6, and especially given the flexibility it has with the Tensor chip. If it can’t, Google might risk losing a huge competitive edge to rival smartphone makers. Not to mention, with some previous rumors suggesting the asking price could be expensive, buyers are likely to need every bit of convincing to choosing a Pixel phone over rival Android devices or an iPhone that costs the same.

Next: Why I’m Waiting For Pixel 6 Pro Launch Before Buying iPhone 13 Pro Max

Source: Carphone Warehouse

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