Though it was released in 2013, shortly after iOS 7, Android 4.4 KitKat has only just finally become the operating system used by most Android users. With 39.1% of the Android market, last year’s KitKat OS finally beat out the much older Jellybean OS. Lollipop, the OS released this year, has almost no users. A bug has been discovered in Android that affects all users of Jellybean and older operating systems, which, if you’ve been paying attention, is 60% of users. The flaw is in the webkit based browser in versions of Android 4.3 (Jellybean), and below, and makes the devices (more) vulnerable to attack from hackers.
Google may not have given their users an easy avenue to upgrade, but they may be forcing them to buy new phones anyway.
Google’s not being intentionally mean here, there’s just nothing they can do. Even if they could patch the older operating systems, they’d then have to go to the phone manufacturers and carriers to put their versions of the OS through with the patch. That would take months, even if any other those manufacturers actually wanted to update their old phones instead of forcing customers to upgrade. It would be a lot of work for very little payoff, and a whole lot of waiting. Really, there’s nothing Google can do to provide a good solution to users, simply due to the way Android is designed.
The flaw makes users vulnerable to attack, so manufacturers may want to patch it without help from Google, which is the only advice Google has passed down to them. This means that some manufacturers will have different patches than others, if they ever even get around to it. Some manufacturers may not patch this for some time, as they’d rather work on current software, and getting Lollipop running with their own customizations to Android.
If you’re looking to buy an Android device, I recommend waiting unless it already has Lollipop on it, or will in the near future. Wait for the Nexus 6, get the HTC One (m8) Google Play Edition with Lollipop (that’s a mouthful), or buy the Moto X. In a few weeks or months, other manufacturers will roll out their own updates with Lollipop. HTC and Samsung are both working to bring it to the HTC One with Blinkfeed and the Samsung Galaxy S5 with Touchwiz. Alternatively, you could just buy an iPhone, which gets frequent updates (all at the same time), and even older versions get important security updates. Let’s be honest though, if you have an Android device and you want to buy a new one, you probably have some loyalty to the platform, despite its flaws.