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What Google Pixel’s 7 years of updates actually means

1 month ago 57

7 years of updates. It’s something that’s still borderline unbelievable, but Google set as the new standard for software updates with its latest Pixel releases. But months later, some still seem to not understand what this update promise means…

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For a long time, Android phones didn’t have very good commitments for software updates. Some devices would get a couple of major Android updates while others would be months behind schedule if they were updated at all. Over time, that Wild West of updates was tamed, with the industry standard for a while settling on two years of major Android updates and three years of security updates after launch. That crept higher for a while, but Google really changed the game last year with the launch of Pixel 8 and Pixel 8 Pro.

With its latest flagships, Google promised 7 years of updates. That’s a number that not even Apple guarantees.

But what does that promise mean? There seem to be mixed opinions out there.

Some seem to be under the impression that this will mean every single feature Google launches over the next near-decade will be available on the hardware released today. Others are skeptical Google will live up to the promise at all. Even in a poll we conducted among 9to5Google readers earlier this year, opinions were split.

But, ultimately, this is incredibly simple.

Google has explained that 7 years of updates will include Android OS updates and security updates for a total of seven years, with Pixel Feature Drops “may or may not” being included in that timeline.

Pixel 8 and 8 Pro will get updates for at least 7 years from when the device first became available on the Google Store in the US. These updates include security, software, and may also include feature drops.

That’s it. You can take that at face value. For the next seven years, Google Pixel 8 and Pixel 8 Pro will get every Android OS version and every monthly security update. They might get new features in those updates too, but it’s not guaranteed. But in terms of keeping the phone usable with modern apps over the next several years and keeping it secure from exploits, it’ll just keep chugging along.

I think it’s a little crazy that there’s been a debate over this, especially when what Google is doing here is almost exactly the same as what Apple has been doing. Apple, without setting a specific timeline on it, has been delivering long-term updates to iPhones for a long time, and it’s not uncommon for a new feature to exclude an older model even though that device got the latest iOS version.

Why is it different when it’s Google?

As we look forward to the Pixel 8a launching soon, presumably with a similar, if not identical promise, there’s nothing to be stressed or worried about. Long-term updates are a win for everyone as long as you don’t expect more than was promised.

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