What are Android security updates and why are they important?

Updates are a common topic when it comes to the Android operating system. There are actually several types of Android updates, one of which is a “security update”. What is different about these updates and why are they so important?

There are basically three types of updates in the Android world: large annual firmware updates that increase the version number (11 to 12), smaller monthly security updates, and “Google Play System Updates”, another type of security update.

What are Google Play System Updates on Android and are they important?

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What is an Android Security Update?

An Android security update is an update that is primarily aimed at improving security and fixing bugs. These updates usually don’t include features that you may notice in your day-to-day use.

As mentioned earlier, Android usually gets a major version update every year, but that’s not frequent enough for you to keep an eye on security threats and bugs.

When a new version of Android is released there will inevitably be problems with it. That’s just a reality of man-made products. However, Google does not want to send a full system update just to iron out a few bugs. Instead, they’ll fix the issues with a minor update.

As the name suggests, these updates are also very important for security reasons. Some bugs represent security risks that can be quickly fixed with an update. Security updates can also fix vulnerabilities for new attacks that have emerged.

These updates are sometimes referred to as “patches,” which is a great way to keep them in mind. They are small fixes that add to the overall operating system.

Why are Android security updates important?

If you install an Android security update you might not notice any fancy new features, but they are very important nonetheless. Software is seldom “finished”. It needs constant maintenance and repair to keep it safe and secure.

These minor updates are important because they cumulatively fix bugs and close loopholes. Think of them as holes in a bucket of water. A few small holes may not lower the water level much, but if you punch enough holes all of the bottom could fall out.

We mentioned earlier that minor updates can fix new vulnerabilities quickly, and that is also critically important. You don’t want to have to wait for a full version update to fix a glaring security risk. Smaller updates allow a faster turnaround time. It is important to download these updates as soon as possible.

How to check for Android security updates

With that in mind, you’re probably wondering how to verify that you have the latest security update. It’s easy to find out.

First, swipe down from the top of the screen (once or twice, depending on the manufacturer of your device). Then tap the gear icon to open the settings menu.

Tap on “Security”.

Select security

At the top of the screen, you will see the “Security Status” section. Search for “security update” and check the date.

Check the date

There’s a pretty good chance you don’t have the update for the current month. Unfortunately, many Android devices are lagging behind. If you have a new Samsung phone or a Google Pixel, you should be up to date.

You can check for an update by selecting “Security Update” and tapping the “Check for Update” button.


Why is my Android phone lagging behind security updates?

In a perfect world, every Android device would get the latest security update at the same time. Unfortunately, that doesn’t happen.

Every month, Google makes the corrections and releases the security updates for its partners (Samsung, LG, OnePlus, etc.). It is then up to these companies to approve the fixes, add their own, and release them to devices.

For this reason, Pixel smartphones usually receive security updates immediately. Google controls the entire process. Other devices are manufacturer-dependent. Samsung is good at keeping its high-end devices updated, but some lower-priced phones can lag behind.

Before buying an Android phone, take some time to review what the manufacturer has to say about promised updates. Samsung, for example, Promise four years of updates for many of its devices. Stay away from manufacturers with bad track records.

Fragmentation is not Android’s fault, it is the manufacturer

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