At I/O 2019, Google announced a major change to how security updates will be pushed to Android devices. With devices shipping with Android Q, Google says security updates will be pushed in the form of an over-the-air patches without having to wait for OEM or device manufacturers to approve the release. For Android smartphones, the biggest challenge remains getting latest version of Android and security patches on a monthly basis. Even flagship smartphones tend to get the latest version of Android months after Google releases the update for its Pixel and even security patch arrives around a month later. Google wants to fix that delay with the release of Android Q.
Google confirmed at its annual developer conference yesterday that it will bypass Android smartphone makers to release security updates directly to these devices. This means that Android users will not have to wait weeks or months to get the latest security patch. For instance, the security patch for the month of May was released yesterday and is currently available only on Google’s own Pixel devices and Essential Phone. The update fixes a critical vulnerability affecting the media aspect of the kernel which could be exploited by a remote attacker to take control of the device.
While smartphone makers could take several weeks to test and assure quality of these patches for their devices, Google seems to taking the natural step of bypassing them and fixing critical bugs. Earlier, a report stated that Google plans to mandate OEMs to push out at least four security updates during a year and each update is not supposed to be apart by more than 90 days. While Google has tried to force its hands on OEMs in the past, the result has not necessarily in favor of the Mountain View-based search giant.
Watch: Android Q How to install
Google has also confirmed that Android users need not restart their devices to update newest security patch. According to TechCrunch, the security updates for Android Q will be focused on 14 modules critical to the operating system’s functions, which includes media codecs prone to remote attack. While it sounds like Google has finally found a way to make Android secure for billions for users, there is a big catch. Devices updating to Android Q will not support over-the-air security updates and according to The Verge, some manufactures will have the option to opt-out altogether defeating the purpose.