Tuesday, October 3, 2023

Pixel 8 Leak Promises 7 Years of OS Updates

Ron Amadeo (via Hacker News):

The Pixel 8 is rapidly approaching its October 4 unveiling, but before then there are a bunch of leaks out there. Reliable leaker Kamila Wojciechowska has a whole list of Pixel 8 and 8 Pro specs over at 91mobiles, along with some Pixel market materials. The big news is that Google is finally giving its Pixel phones a longer support window. Pixel phones are getting seven years of updates, which is longer than Apple.


Currently, Pixel phones have three years of OS updates and five years of security updates, which is not only beaten by Apple’s update policy but is also inexplicably worse than many of Google’s Android partners.


Apple doesn’t have a policy written in stone anywhere, but with the iPhone X not making the jump to iOS17, that makes for a five-year major OS update policy if you’re counting to 2022’s iOS16, though with some point updates in 2023 you could argue six years.

This would have been a good topic for Mother Nature to ask about.


Update (2023-10-10): Jon Porter (Hacker News):

Google has the freedom to offer this longer support period thanks to using its own Tensor processor in the Pixel 8 series, which gives it more control over the hardware that’s gone into the phone compared to most of its Android competitors. Fairphone, a competing Android manufacturer that prioritizes lengthy support periods for its devices, has publicly spoken about how difficult it is to continue to support a phone after a chipset manufacturer like Qualcomm ends support for the processor used. In Google’s case with Tensor, the power is in its own hands.


In theory, Google’s pledge should mean the Pixel 8 and Pixel 8 Pro get updated to at least 2029’s Android 20 and maybe even 2030’s Android 21, depending on when in the year the update gets released. But that assumes Google is still using the same annual release cadence for Android seven years from now, even before we get into its somewhat flaky history of ongoing support for other services and initiatives.

Although seven years of security support puts Google out ahead of its mainstream competitors, it’s still technically beaten by Fairphone, which recently announced the Fairphone 5 with a promised eight years of security updates (with 10 years as a stretch goal). However, Fairphone has no plans to sell its fifth-generation device in the US and is also only committed to releasing five major Android OS updates.

Sean Hollister (via Nick Heer):

noticed a gaping hole in Google’s promise — and though we tried repeatedly, Google refused to meaningfully discuss that hole with The Verge this week.

The hole: Google is arbitrarily locking software features behind the Pixel 8 Pro’s $999 paywall, even though the $699 Pixel 8 has the same Google Tensor G3 processor, the same camera, and the same seven-year guarantee.


If Google is arbitrarily deciding that Pixel 8 buyers don’t deserve the same software features as Pixel 8 Pro buyers, why would we expect it to give Pixel 8 Pro buyers the same features as Pixel 9 Pro buyers next year when it’s got new phones to sell?

Of course, Apple has been doing this, too.

In fact, we’ve already seen Google do that exact sort of thing: one year ago, the company told Phone Arena that the Pixel 7’s Clear Calling and Guided Frame features would come to the Pixel 6 lineup. Guided Frame is still MIA, and Flegal told us in January that the Pixel 6 wouldn’t be getting Clear Calling after all.

Simone Manganelli:

Why would people actually expect Google to follow through on this, when Google has, as just one example, killed its two-year “Pixel Pass” before two years were even up?

This is pure marketing BS, and people should wait a full 10 years before reporting on it or believing it.

Update (2023-11-22): yassie_j:

Google recently killed off Pixel Pass, a service that would upgrade your Pixel phone after two years and include some extra goodies, like YT Premium, and 200 GB of Drive.

It lasted for only 23 months, meaning that nobody actually benefited from using this service, weeks before the Pixel 8 is released.

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One read of the comments under that story shows just how much damage Google has done to its brand’s trust. Hard to fathom Google committing to *anything* for 7 years.

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