Enjoying Lollipop? A Look at Rolling Out Android Updates

When Google releases a new Android updates, such as Lollipop 5.0 and 5.1, there is a lot of fanfare. However, users usually have to wait months before they can download it to their device. Here's why.

When Google releases a new Android update, it’s big news. The Android Lollipop 5.0 release in November 2014 was both well promoted by Google and well covered by the media. Even Android Lollipop 5.1’s quiet roll out in early February, which was not widely announced, quickly generated buzz. However, for users with Android devices, there can often be a long wait between when an Android update is released and when they can actually use it.

Rolling Out Android Updates

A look at the first release of Lollipop will show how Android updates are rolled out. Google announced Android 5.0 on June 25, 2014 and released the source code on November 3, 2014. Just over a week after the source code was made available, Nexus and Google Play devices, which are both Google products, could download the first rendition of Lollipop.

Other device manufacturers, such as LG, Samsung, Motorola and HTC needed more time to adjust Android 5.0 for their devices. Before users could download the update, each of these companies needed to modify Lollipop for their phones and tablets. This is why in early January 2015, two months after Android 5.0 was released, less than 0.1% of Android users had Lollipop on their devices. It takes time for manufacturers to adjust the code for their devices, and Google has a head start.

Currently, Android 5.0 is available in the U.S. on Samsung’s Galaxy S5, HTC’s One M8, LG’s G3, Motorola’s second-generation Moto X and Google’s Nexus 6.

Repeating with Android 5.1

Android 5.1 was released a few weeks ago with much less fanfare than the 5.0 update, but it repeats the same pattern. This update, which adds a silent mode to Android 5.0 and stabilizes the platform and improves performance, is currently available on Nexus 5, 6 and 9 devices – which once again, are Google products.

Users with Android devices made by other companies will have to wait until those manufacturers adjust Android 5.1 for their devices. Hopefully, since 5.1 is comparatively minor, the wait won’t be as long. But, there will be a wait, as there is with every roll out of an Android update. However, according to reviews of both Android Lollipop updates, the wait should be worth it.