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Why Android Marshmallow must be a fix-all for Google's troubled platform

Why Android Marshmallow must be a fix-all for Google's troubled platform

Google’s announcement that its next–gen OS will indeed be called Marshmallow has surprised no one.

The beta version of the platform, Android M, was revealed at the company’s I/O event in May and has been available to those willing to try it out ever since.

But while the name gives some official gloss to the upcoming OS, the timing of the announcement suggests that Google will be rolling it out far sooner than first thought.

This is likely to be down to the Stagefright bug, which has led it to confirm plans for monthly security updates for its Nexus handsets and tablets.

android stagefright

Android Marshmallow is due to fix that nasty bug once and for all, so perhaps the Big G thought it best to get it finalised and out there as soon as possible.

That’s great if you’re a Nexus owner. But if you own any of the more popular Android phones from the likes of Samsung, Sony and LG, chances are you’ll be waiting months to see Marshmallow and its attendant, beefed–up security features.

Once again, the excitement around a new Android release masks a deep concern about how much of a state Google’s platform is in.

Take this month’s figures for instance. Official stats for the seven days to August 3rd show that Android Lollipop, released in November 2014, is on a grand total of 18.1% of Android devices.

android lollipop

That includes both the 5.0 and 5.1 versions.

So despite all the talk of Marshmallow offering improved security and control via stricter app permissions, improved battery life and Google Now On Tap, it remains highly unlikely that anything but a small percentage of users will get to use it this year.

2013’s KitKat remains the most common version of Android out there.

Android users either don’t seem to know to install updates, or own devices that don't have the tech specs required to run the latest software.

It’s most likely the latter, and that is causing Google some major security headaches. Stagefright has shown that it’s easy to exploit old phones.

marshmallows

Manufacturers are willing to roll out fixes, but only to new devices. That leaves consumers open to attack and their data vulnerable.

So while welcoming Marshmallow is all well and good, it’s worth reserving a healthy dose of scepticism about it too.

Google has a long way to go before its OS is secure and uniform. And right now, it looks like it may simply never happen at all.

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