Firmware

Is this why the frequency of Samsung’s security updates has gone up recently?

In the last couple of months, Samsung has been doing better at releasing regular security updates for many of its devices, especially flagship phones. And part of the reason for that might be Google’s stricter contract with manufacturers. Google now mandates regular updates for devices that have been activated by more than 100,000 users (referred to as popular devices henceforth).

Google’s rules for security updates got stricter in 2018

Google had revealed earlier this year that it would be making new agreements with its partners to ensure that they roll out regular updates. Google hadn’t revealed terms of those agreements publicly, but The Verge has been able to access confidential information that sheds some light on the matter. Apparently, any device launched after January 2018 has to get regular security patches. As long as the device has more 100,000 users, it must receive regular security updates for a period of two years. And for Samsung, that’s a lot of devices

Monthly updates aren’t necessary, but every popular device must be updated with security fixes at least four times in a year. That means that every eligible device has to be protected against “vulnerabilities identified more than 90 days ago.” This rule has apparently been applied to 75 percent of each manufacturer’s popular devices in July this year. Starting January 2019, the rule will expand to cover 100 percent of popular devices in a manufacturer’s lineup.

Samsung seems to have started following the law already

And if you look at the recent uptick in how frequently Samsung updates its devices, things did start getting better around August. That suggests Samsung is already following the law for 75 percent of popular devices. That may be why 2017 flagships and budget devices have also been getting more frequent updates recently. Samsung’s flagship phones have benefited in particular, which many of you may have noticed.

However, things still aren’t great in all countries. While Samsung has been releasing monthly updates for flagships in recent months, it’s not happening everywhere. But if Google’s new contract is indeed the reason for the increased frequency of security updates, we can expect to see Samsung updating every popular device once at least every three months. The company already does that for plenty of smartphones, but starting January 2019, the update scene for Galaxy devices should get even better.

Too bad none of this extends to major OS upgrades.

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