Mobile: Where is my update?

iOS 9 recently launched and Android Marshmallow has just begun the roll out so the question on everyone’s mind is: Where is my update?

First let’s get the pure devices out of the way. Pure devices are devices that carry an OS not edited by the manufacturers or carriers, thus this is just the iPhones and Nexus devices. Once it is confirmed if the device in question is getting an update at all then next question is where in the chain does it lie?
Obviously the flagships will be first so in the Android Family it would be the Nexus 6 then the 5. On iOS, it would be the iPhone 5s then the 5. Even though the operating system is the same the delay is caused by device specific things like drivers required for the WiFi and Bluetooth. For example let’s take the iPhone 4S, the iPhone 5 and the iPhone 5S: The teams working on these device specific things will first work on the 5s while a part of them works on the iPhone 5, once the 5s is done they will switch over to the 5 while a part of them starts working on the 4. This is the reason for the time difference on non-modified devices.

Now let’s go on to manufacturer devices, these are devices from manufacturers like Samsung, LG and the rest. The main reason these devices take such a lot of time after a new Android version is released is simple: They all want to be unique. In this quest for uniqueness most 3rd party manufacturers make a “skin” on top of Android, the problem is that each of these skins is not something small like a few color changes, they are complete changes to the interface and how it acts. Since these skins are deeply embedded into Android it takes a lot of effort to get them updated to standards and methods in the new Android versions. Usually, a redesign of the skin takes place too so that it feels a little different from the older versions. That’s not the end sadly as next it will go through the process of pure devices by needing device specific edits that need to work with Android and the skin as a combined unit which means there will not only be drivers for Android but changes in the skin too.

Finally, we have carrier devices. These are the same as manufacturer devices except they are provided by carriers like Sprint and Verizon. They go through all of the above processes but before they make it to the end user the updates are submitted to the carriers. The carriers review the changes and add their own specific changes like some apps that they believe are needed. If all goes well then the carrier will push out the update. Because of the carrier specific changes that are added at the end it is more than likely that a Samsung Galaxy S6 will get an update before a Galaxy S6 provided by a carrier.

I hope this has provided some insight into an OS update process and why each device takes a different amount of time.