June 16, 2024
Android 14 easter egg on OnePlus 11 with OxygenOS 14 beta.
Tushar Mehta / Digital Traits

Software program updates, the lifeblood of our telephones, are a complicated mess — and we have to let producers know there’s an issue. These are daring phrases for a seemingly boring side of our telephones, however it’s true.

We completely want updates recurrently delivered to our telephones, however we don’t want questionable options in order that they change into “newsworthy” occasions, and updates should be higher introduced to the individuals truly utilizing the gadget itself.

Advertising and marketing is taking up

The ColorOS 14 splash page on the Oppo Find N2.
Andy Boxall / Digital Traits

I’ve been utilizing Android 14 on the Oppo Discover N2 Flip with the corporate’s new ColorOS 14 interface, and actually, it doesn’t look or really feel all that totally different from ColorOS 13 over Android 13. It’s not the primary time I’ve settled down to make use of a “new” model of an current platform and puzzled what the fuss was about, and it’s definitely not a state of affairs distinctive to Oppo. It simply occurs to be a well timed instance of what’s taking place.


Save on every thing from laptops and tablets, to espresso makers and air purifiers, and sensible dwelling necessities just like the Amazon Echo.

What’s new in ColorOS 14? There are some new colours and ringtones, a brand new always-on show, a recent approach of making a file in Notes, and a few efficiency tweaks. These are given flashy names like Trinity Engine, Aqua Dynamics, and Aquamorphic Sound Fashion. In any other case, there are little variations in format, fonts, and design, however the important thing phrase is variations, not enhancements. Beneath that is Google’s core Android 14 expertise, which builds on adjustments launched in Android 12 and Android 13, and also you want an intimate information of these two variations to identify the adjustments.

ColorOS 14 has been very dependable on the Discover N2 Flip, the ringtones sound excellent, and general efficiency has been nice. It’s what a software program replace must be — quick and clean, no apparent bugs, and seamless in its integration — however I’ve struggled to seek out any significant alterations that have an effect on my day-to-day use, and outdoors of the prolonged obtain and set up course of, I most likely wouldn’t have been conscious the software program had modified in any respect if I didn’t already realize it was taking place. That is exasperated by the OS not introducing options or alterations in any apparent approach, so the common particular person most likely wouldn’t know what’s new both.

Smartphone updates are important

Android 14 logo on the Google Pixel 8 Pro.
Joe Maring / Digital Traits

Don’t get me unsuitable, I’m more than happy Oppo has pushed to get Android 14 out earlier than the tip of the yr with an up to date consumer interface and that it really works so effectively. Offering well timed updates is crucial and an indication producers take gadget safety and long-term possession severely. Software program updates should occur, and we’ve labored for years to make producers take note of them.

Just lately, although, as software program matures and massive adjustments are much less more likely to occur on an annual foundation, these updates appear to have been handed over to advertising groups, the place any and all releases are given a stage of fanfare that implies it’s one thing to be applauded. It’s comprehensible, however behind this appears to be a push so as to add extra to the software program, simply so it may be overrated. Worse, the best way updates are introduced to the particular person on the road who owns the related telephone, however doesn’t have entry to the press launch, is substandard.

There’s often nothing in any respect on the telephone telling you about it. The shortage of engagement for the tip consumer suggests the replace isn’t that necessary, and the intention is just to get the media speaking concerning the replace and, due to this fact, selling the corporate. There has additionally been a worrying pattern this yr the place software program updates are introduced and launched with lacking options, like Double Faucet in Apple’s watchOS 10 and varied picture instruments on the brand new Google Pixel 8 and Google Pixel 8 Professional. This can be a barely totally different drawback, however it will possibly quantity to the identical confusion or rightful ambivalence towards software program updates and options from these not within the trade.

Some corporations do it effectively

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How Android 14 was launched on the Google Pixel 5. Andy Boxall / Digital Traits

I get that it’s necessary to point out updates are taking place. New options can appeal to individuals to a product, bulletins usually should be timed with occasions, and promotional actions assist fund growth. I’m additionally conscious I see extra updates as a result of I exploit a number of units, however that additionally permits me to acknowledge there must be some severe adjustments to the best way software program updates are dealt with in order that they change into extra related, attention-grabbing, and actionable to extra individuals.

Are any corporations presenting software program updates correctly to common individuals? Nothing does it fairly effectively. When a software program replace arrives on the Nothing Telephone 1 or Nothing Telephone 2, there’s a transparent listing of the adjustments proper there earlier than your obtain. It’s brief and succinct, and I just like the enjoyable emojis that make it glanceable and pleasant. To introduce Nothing OS 2.5, it introduced the adjustments in a four-minute section in a YouTube video for everybody to see. You could possibly conceivably strive it out by yourself telephone as you watch.

An update arriving on the Nothing Phone 2.
A discover of an replace arriving on the Nothing Telephone 2. Andy Boxall / Digital Traits

Google’s Android function drops aren’t at all times that thrilling, however I like the best way it presents the updates on a single webpage, with hyperlinks to required apps and examples of how the options work. In contrast, Apple’s iOS 17 web page appears to be like nice, however it’s extremely information-dense and never all that interactive, whereas Samsung’s data on One UI 5 is a big wall of textual content and never participating in any respect.

Going by these websites makes me assume that if the options and adjustments are so tough to current legibly and nearly by no means defined on the gadget itself, does that imply the replace is overly sophisticated because of a necessity to seem as if every thing is new and totally different when it’s actually not? Even necessary updates aren’t at all times handled effectively. Android 14 and OneUI 6 arrived on my Galaxy S23 Extremely once I was writing this text, and though I used to be happy to see a protracted listing of the adjustments on the replace web page, there was no additional introduction when you’d up to date and restarted the telephone, regardless of some pretty large alterations.

Why this can be a drawback

The
How Android 14 was launched on the Pixel 5. Andy Boxall / Digital Traits

Software program updates are a necessary a part of our telephones; we should always know what they include, and so they should be examined by the media and beta testers to make sure bugs are noticed and squashed. It’s necessary to evaluate them earlier than they attain telephones owned by the general public. We’re additionally in a much better place as we speak than a decade in the past, when updates had been thought of an choice, and telephones with out-of-date software program had been frequent.

However they continue to be a complicated and tough drawback. Software program updates now generally arrive with solely normal or fundamental seen adjustments and little rationalization, however are promoted anyway. There’s an aversion to easily delivering an replace if the alterations are all below the pores and skin. The present strategy lessens the significance of updates, and so they find yourself being ignored or complicated to individuals who aren’t deeply related to the tech world or gadget ecosystem.

I’m not alone or the primary to acknowledge this is a matter. A Kaspersky report confirmed statistics the place 77% of respondents wished silent updates within the background, and 69% wished clearer explanations about what had modified after set up. Now that producers are committing to extra software program updates for longer intervals of time, it’s changing into much more necessary to deal with these issues.

What could be achieved?

iPhone plugged in atop MacBook showing Apple logo during a software update recovery.
Szabo Viktor / Unsplash

What’s the answer? Maybe producers ought to take a look at one or two major updates per yr, with all the brand new options deliberate inside it, large and small. The extra frequent important, however boring updates ought to most likely arrive silently. Every thing wants an explainer, and huge updates want a how-to information. Updates can be a promo-worthy occasion if they’re handled appropriately.

Apple ties its major updates to the arrival of a brand new iPhone, which provides the brand new software program significance and relevance and helps exhibit new options, too. Google’s “Take advantage of …” introduction that’s current on up to date Pixel telephones shouldn’t be the outlier — it must be the usual. When OneUI 6 and Android 14 arrived there was a protracted listing of adjustments on the replace web page, however this gained’t attraction to individuals with restricted time or understanding of the system. The truth that software program updates — and the best way they’re delivered and defined — differ a lot throughout all units solely highlights that the system wants streamlining and bettering.

We should always all care about software program updates, and that features producers. However we don’t should be artificially compelled to concentrate simply because one is arriving. If there’s one thing value telling the tip consumer about, make it clear on the telephone what’s new. If there isn’t, simply ship it by — there’s no want to brighten it. The previous approach of ignoring the necessity for software program updates took effort and time to vary, however the shift to closely selling, however not completely explaining updates additionally wants addressing earlier than everybody stops caring about — and probably ignoring — software program updates totally.

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