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Why do new phones ship with older versions of Android?

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New phones shipping with outdated versions of Android isn’t too surprising. The reasons? Release cycles, and Benjamin Franklin.

No matter when you look, you’ll see phones — expensive phones — on sale that are running “old” versions of Android. Brand new phones that cost hundreds of dollars and are often the best models available in their segment. They will be on shelves beside other brand new phones that also have “old” software. And not just models that have been available for a while, but just-released devices that we have heard about and are waiting to buy. For some, that can be frustrating. But there is a reason, and it’s pretty simple.

It’s known as opportunity cost. The idea behind opportunity cost is that all resources must be used efficiently. These resources could be monetary, but they also include things like time or any other corporate benefit. We’re all more familiar with the idea the way Ben Franklin expressed it: “Remember that Time is Money.”

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It’s no secret that most phones that run Android aren’t using the latest software. They may be on the latest platform version (i.e. Android 9 Pie), but they probably don’t have the absolute latest revision or security patch level. Understanding why starts with understanding how “Android” is updated.

Building an operating system is hard and you can’t change the platform in the middle of doing it.

Google only makes a complete version of Android for the products it sells. But it allows companies like Samsung, LG, Motorola, OnePlus and dozens more to build their own operating system based on Android any time they like because of a liberal software license. That’s why Android became the dominant operating system so quickly, and it’s also why your phone probably has an older version of Android, and has ever since you bought it.

It’s not cheap to build and test a complete operating system. Sometimes it’s comparatively easy; think of the companies like BlackBerry and OnePlus that are better than most at getting monthly security patches out. The new code was designed to be merged into existing code, and all a company using it needs to do is check the parts they have changed compared to the download Google provides. But not all updates are small or simple — actual changes to the core of Android, such as those required for an update from Android 8 to Android 9, are another matter. Even a seemingly small bump to a x.1 release can be challenging, depending on what changed. And that process can be expensive.

Software cycles versus hardware cycles

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Though there tend to be clusters of phone launches around the spring and fall, we see new phones announced throughout the year because companies all have different release cycles. But Google releases its new Android platform versions in the fall regardless of what smartphone makers are doing, and that means there’s always going to be a disconnect of some sort between the two. And that creates the potential that we can see phones announced just a month before Google releases a new version of Android, for example, and by the time it actually goes on sale it’s already out of date.

It takes months to launch a phone, and the software can get out of date during that process.

This can become an even larger (or at least more noticeable) disconnect because it takes several months for a company to get through the process of actually bringing a phone to market. No matter when a phone launches in the year, the process of getting certification for a smartphone to run on certain networks and in various countries takes lots of time (read: more money), all while the software is locked in and can’t be changed. And the longer that process takes, the greater the gap between when the software was locked in and the phone actually goes on sale.

Typically, this delay leads to a phone being a couple security patches out of date, or perhaps a small revision (x.x.1) behind — but if the timing is just wrong, you can see a phone launch a full version old. Nobody at Samsung or LG or any other company wants you to have old software on your phone, because it’s going to commit to updating the phone to the newest version anyway. But because they have to do the updating themselves, it takes time. And that’s why we see phones with old versions of Android despite everyone’s best efforts.

How to know you’ll be up to date

The only way you can take all of the guesswork out of whether you’ll have the latest version of Android is to buy a Google Pixel phone. Google ships all of its phones with the latest version of Android available, but more importantly guarantees ongoing software updates. With a Pixel, you’ll get a minimum of two years of full platform updates, and three years of monthly security updates. And once again, they come out right away.

The Google Pixel 3 starts at $700, but the Google Pixel 3a has the same software support and starts at $400.

If the Pixels aren’t particularly appealing to you, there are a couple other options that come with the expectation of regular and continued software support. OnePlus does a good job of keeping up with updates, and the OnePlus 7 Pro is a great phone. You can also look at buying an Android One phone like the Nokia 7.1 or Xiaomi Mi A2 for much less.

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Tribit StormBox portable wireless speaker review

Bluetooth speakers come in a wide variety of shapes, sizes, and price points. To say that it’s easy to find something that works for you would likely be an understatement.Bluetooth speakers are also widely available; they’re found not just in electronics stores, but general retail stores and myriad online outlets, too.For every big-name branded speaker that you’ll encounter in your hunt, there also will be unknown companies competing for your attention and money. Take, for instance, Tribit.Although it doesn’t have the same market presence as Ultimate Ears, it does have a growing portfolio of competing products with lower prices. Its StormBox speaker is one of the brand’s latest products and we’ve had a chance to check one out.DesignThe Tribit StormBox is a cylindrical speaker that takes up about as much space as a large energy drink. Although its buttons lead you to believe there’s a specific front to it, the shape lends itself to a 360-degree sound.Speaking of buttons, the StormBox keeps things simple. There are volume controls and a multi-function power/pairing button. Oh, and there’s also an XBass button that’s used to take sound to the next level.The speaker has a hard mesh exterior and an IPX7 rating which means it’s built to withstand splashes and scrapes. At the top is a lanyard that makes it easy to carry or connect to a bag. Nice and portable, it weighs in around one pound total.Although it pairs via Bluetooth, the StormBox also has a 3.5mm auxiliary input for directly connecting to audio sources. It, and the microUSB charging port are located under a protective rubber flap that keeps things dry.Also worth noting, you can pair multiple StormBox speakers together to create a stereo sound. We did not have the chance to test the feature out.What’s Included?Tribit Bluetooth SpeakerMicro USB CableBlack LanyardUser ManualSetupThere’s very little to mess with here as it’s more or less a case of powering on and holding down the pairing button. You don’t have to worry about any apps or phone settings.PerformanceI was quite happy with how the speaker performed as it did everything it promised. The StormBox had no problem filling large rooms and open spaces. You could easily hear whatever was playing throughout any room.The water-resistance worked pretty well. It was a bit muffled, but nothing drastic. Overall, I thought the speaker did really well underwater.As for the special button, I didn’t feel that the XBass button had much effect. I wish it had been a bit stronger.The battery life is reported to be twenty hours. I used it right out of the box and used it for about ten hours, and haven’t had to charge it yet. The manual includes a guide to figuring out the different functions, including how to understand your battery level. It isn’t very obvious, but there is a column of lights on the back that will give you a general idea.ConclusionOne of the best selling points of the StormBox is that it comes with an 18-month warranty. Not only that, but you can extend it out to 30 months at no extra cost. This process is done online at Tribit’s website.Given the affordable ($60) price, this is a great speaker option for people who might want something for around the home, office, or pool. It’s portable, sounds great, and has an excellent battery life.AvailabilityThe Tribit StormBox comes in a variety of color options, including blue, black, and red. Look for it at Tribit’s website and Amazon for about $60.

Cool tech gifts under $100

In the era of digitalization and lots of tech advancements appearing every day, you have no choice but adapt to our quickly-changing world. Tech gadgets are cool: they simplify our life and make it much more convenient. Besides, they become an irreplaceable part of our daily routine, just like smartphones once did. More attention to tech gadgets are paid in college: students are in need of helpful devices as well as reliable services like papercoach, which you can pay for an essay or just delegate your homework. Tech gadgets can also become a great gift for everyone, from a teenager to a retired person. In this guide, we will cover the top popular of them that will not cost you a fortune.Top gadgets for under $100 budgetHow many times have your smartphone, quick Internet connection, and professional student service united to make wonders? You just choose a reliable resource based on speedy paper review and other agencies’ feedback, then send a request like «Can you do my homework for me?» or «Can you write my essay for me cheap?» and receive a completed task within a short timeframe. Just a decade ago, we couldn’t imagine it would have ever become possible. Now there is a variety of gadgets aimed to make our life easy and comfortable. We offer a list of top tech gifts everyone would be happy to get and which cost no more than $100 (however, today $100 can get you quite far):Streaming stickA device like the Chromecast will cost you around $70, if not less, and is good for people who love streaming like bloggers or just enjoy watching Netflix. All tech giants like Apple, Amazon, and Google have invested in the development of the streaming revolution so you can find a variety of models appearing every year (for example, Roku). It is able to deliver 4K HD video and helps you find the best place to enjoy the content easily;Portable chargerThis is a must-have device for active smartphone users that never have enough battery power (that is, for everyone). We recommend getting the one with 20,000mAh or more, which will likely cost you around $50 and will keep your phone charged seven times (this is especially convenient during the trip in the mountains, concerts, and other places where you can`t get charged a standard way). It is small, lightweight, and easily fits in the pocket or backpack. Besides charging quickly, it also does it safely based on your cable and device;Amazon Echo DotThis device is a mini voice assistant speaker that has access to multiple apps and using which you can control smart home devices (lights, garage door, water, and thermostat), listen to music, and order pizza. It will cost around $50 and is totally worth this money: it has a far-field system of voice recognition so you can make commands across the room while the device will react to your speech, accent, vocabulary, and patterns;E-readerFor example, it can be Amazon Kindle for the cost of $80. If the person loves reading and cannot invest much money into regular books buying, this one will make a perfect gift. The most recent models have a nice design, enough memory to download hundreds of books, a great touch screen, and a powerful processor for convenient reading. Talking about Amazon, it also has a built-in vocabulary and the battery life of one month by active reading;Wireless headphonesIf you are looking for a gift under $100, you can consider the Shure SE112 model that has a solid construction, built-in microphone for making calls, great quality of the sound, and a smooth Bluetooth connection. These headphones provide outstanding performance within a limited budget so you can enjoy music on the go;DroneDepending on the model, it will cost you around $100, and it will be a perfect gift for travelers and just nature lovers. It is lightweight, has stabilization features, and is controlled via an app. Cheaper models can record videos in 720p, which still makes great quality.EDITOR NOTE: This is a promoted post and should not be viewed as an editorial endorsement.

Android’s file sharing Nearby Share is now live

One feature that has been missing in the Android space for some time is the option to easily share files and contacts wireless with other Android users. Apple has had this with AirDrop for years, but Google has never brought a comparable protocol to the table. Finally, the rumors have been confirmed with Nearby Share available to Android.Nearby Share gives consumers a great option to quickly share links, photos, contacts, and documents with Android users instantly. The service works over cell networks, Bluetooth, WebRTC, or WiFi. This gives folks multiple avenues to deliver the shared files both on and offline.Google’s blog post also states that privacy settings are available in the app to make sure you have some more granular controls over how you can be found and receive files. You can change this from “all contacts” to “some contacts” or “hidden”. These privacy settings should allow you to add a layer of security to make sure you are only receiving or sending files to your most trusted friends or colleagues.Chromebooks are also not forgotten in this update. Chrome OS is quickly becoming the jack of all trades operating system and Google has made Nearby Share available on this platform as well. File sharing seemed like a natural progression of the already good continuum experience of Instant Tethering from Chrome OS devices to Android phones and we are glad Moutain View’s finest took the time to make this compatible day one.Nearby Share is a long-awaited addition to the Android ecosystem. While we like to think that Apple steals from Google on a consistent basis for new iOS features, this has been a gap in the Android experience that just needed to be fixed.Pixels and “select Samsung devices” should already see Nearby Share on the devices. Google will continue the trend of rolling releases of new Android options like this with future handsets getting Nearby Share over the coming months.