Security updates on mobile operating systems have typically been bundled inside larger patches that include other bug fixes and improvements. Unfortunately, the world of security exploits isn't tuned to a company's release schedule, which can leave devices and platforms vulnerable to exploits for long periods of time. Microsoft recognized this issue long ago and has since used Windows Update to roll out regular security patches when needed. With the growth of mobile, more attention is now being placed on the security of smartphones and tablets.

Google appears to have come to the same realization as Microsoft, and today they announced that they will start pushing monthly security updates over the air to Nexus devices that are still within their support timeframe. The list of supported devices includes the Nexus 4, Nexus 5, Nexus 6, Nexus 7 (both generations), Nexus 9, Nexus 10, and Nexus Player. In addition to security fixes, the monthly OTA updates will include general bug fixes, but the focus is primarily on security improvements.

The first monthly patch for Nexus devices is rolling out today, although as usual it may take some time to get to your device due to Google's staged rollout system. In addition to this announcement, Google has also implemented a long rumored change to their Nexus update policy. While in the past devices were guaranteed 18 months of updates, under the new policy they will be supported for two years of major software updates, and security updates will continue for three years or eighteen months after the device is discontinued on Google Play depending on which is longer.

Source: Google Android Blog

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  • Impulses - Thursday, August 6, 2015 - link

    I do wonder if they'll try to sell it thru carriers a la N6 tho, personally I wouldn't mind since I'm still on a plan where I can renew contract for a subsidy... I know I know, but the way my student discount is applied makes this plan more appealing than anything more recent and off contract (never mind the contract expired over a year ago while I rocked a N5 bought on Play) Reply
  • pika2000 - Wednesday, August 5, 2015 - link

    If you have a Nexus or Android One devices, great, but guess what, they are only available officially in select countries. And guess what, majority of Android users do NOT have those phones. And don't start making a high-nosed comment on how people should have thought better. The point of Android is variety, choice, access, and affordability level. Look at the most popular manufacturer, Xiaomi, where it is still selling phones with KitKat. That's reality. The stage fright vulnerability should be a wake up call.

    I am an Android user, and I actually now have to think hard and save money to get an iPhone instead. OS updates for features is one thing, but security issues are critical, and I don't see OEMs and/or carriers will have any incentives to push updates diligently, unless Google changed the whole Android OS concept, or the OEMs/carriers be made liable by laws for any issues that users have due to the unpatched phones.
    Reply
  • LordConrad - Wednesday, August 5, 2015 - link

    After experiencing the open and easily customizable Android, you're really going to hate your iPhone. Reply
  • trparky - Wednesday, August 5, 2015 - link

    I had an Android for years and I now have an iPhone 6 Plus. It's just as good, if not better, than any Android device. The software performs better, smoother, and with far less glitches. Apps also seem to be far more polished than their Android cousins.

    Sure, I can't customize things on my iPhone but I couldn't do that on my Android phones either. No root, couldn't get root, and on top of that, a locked bootloader. So where's that customization now?

    I have had my iPhone for six months now and sure, there are some little things that nag me some times but Android had far more issues than my iPhone has. Everything just works on my iPhone, I can't say that much about the Android devices I used.
    Reply
  • Alexey291 - Thursday, August 6, 2015 - link

    No offence but you don't need root for the majority of the customization that most people use.

    Things like custom launchers, icons, fonts, browsers and hell even icon positions... None of that needs root.

    Root will give you more options and of course custom roms, but if you wanted easy root then you should possibly have done some minimal research (googled for 5 minutes).

    That said, I understand why people end up moving to idevices. It takes away the requirement to google for five minutes innit?
    Reply
  • ET - Thursday, August 6, 2015 - link

    Moving to iDevices also provides much more of an assurance that apps you want will run. For example gaming on Android is a bit of hell, apps not available for many devices, or crashing, etc. iOS devices provide more stability. For many people saving hassle is lot more valuable than having more customisation options. Reply
  • steven75 - Thursday, August 6, 2015 - link

    Custom launchers, icons, fonts, and icon positions and things that statistically speaking, no one cares about, are TOTALLY a valid reason to give up the security of your most personal device! Reply
  • Impulses - Friday, August 7, 2015 - link

    So you're saying iOS is more secure and/or gets security patches more often? Reply
  • Exodite - Thursday, August 6, 2015 - link

    I'd prefer to see a situation where security updates isn't tied to OS updates.

    This gets partially there, allowing security issues to get addressed without being bundled into the next release, but I still imagine we're going to get shorted on security fixes unless you apply all the OS updates first.

    I'm just not as keen up updating my OS as other are, or indeed I were in the past myself. Largely because Google seems to be hell-bent on destroying everything good about Android as of late but overall I don't think you should be forced to change your experience just to fix security issues.
    Reply
  • Doh! - Friday, August 7, 2015 - link

    Security updates no different than OS updates. For this particular update, it's just a bump-up from an earlier release to r9 (5.1.1_r9). It's still lollipop and your Android experience won't change a bit. You won't notice any changes in appearance or functionality. Reply

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