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Google gets nasty – may publicly shame tardy Android manufacturers

Google looks to be getting tough on manufacturers who drag their feet on Android updates.

Android is undoubtedly a great mobile operating system, and the most widely used in the world. But it continues to suffer from fragmentation.

Earlier in the month it emerged that just 7.5 percent of Android devices were running on the latest version, Android Marshmallow. And that’s despite the fact that it’s been available for some seven months.

Now Google is preparing to take radical steps to counter this shortfall, according to a new Bloomberg report.

In particular, it claims that Google has drawn up rankings of Android manufacturers and how timely they are with their updates. Google has apparently shared these rankings with its manufacturing partners, but it is now said to be discussing making them public.

The goal would be to highlight those manufacturers who are quick with their updates, but others would be humiliated through omission from the list.

Slow Android updates cause a number of problems. Some of the key new features Google releases with each new version of Android don’t make their way to prominent handsets for a number of months.

Related: Best Android phones 2016

It also damages the Android platform’s security, because emerging threats (such as the Stagefright bug) aren’t closed off as quickly or widely as they should be. Google committed to monthly security updates soon after Stagefright bug emerged, but its hardware partners have struggled to keep pace.

Of course, hardware manufacturers with their custom skins are only part of the problem. Mobile operators also clog the system up with their own specific tests and custom software. The report claims that Google is trying to persuade these operators to leave Google’s regular security patches out of their testing procedures.

Next, check out our Android N hands-on:

We’re looking forward to seeing how Android N fares this autumn. Google has given manufacturers and operators more time than usual to work with the OS, so hopefully it won’t need to follow through on its name-and-shame threats.

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