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BlackBerry’s Android upgrade track record should give anyone pause


Hey, appearance: A new BlackBerry cell phone is right here! And no, you didn’t simply awaken from a 12-year coma. I promise you; it is nevertheless 2018. The new BlackBerry Key2, however, is aimed squarely at individuals who omit the dignity days of the physical-keyboard-pack-in’ telephone — specifically, enterprise customers who still location a few kinds of price on the BlackBerry name (although it is technically an exceptional organization making the devices now). The enterprise’s very own landing page for the device placards that awareness it appears that evidently:

BlackBerry Key2 Android BlackBerry

The page also makes the Key2’s enterprise-centric selling point pretty clean, claiming the tool is “the comfiest Android phone” — the maximum, dadgum it! — “with stronger security and privateness features built-in.” There’s simply one problem with that declaration and as a result also with the wider narrative surrounding the Key2’s release: BlackBerry, because the business enterprise and maximum folks discussing it fails to mention, has an, in reality, abysmal file of handing over Android operating system updates to clients.

And trust me: For any cellphone in 2018 — however, especially for one being provided as a security-centered system for Serious Business Users™ — it is a liability you should not ignore. [Get fresh tips and insight in your inbox every Friday with JR’s new Android Intelligence insider’s newsletter. Exclusive extras await!] Let’s start with the cold, hard records: BlackBerry’s preceding flagship telephone, the KeyOne, got here out in April of 2017.

This week — simply these days, in truth — the telephone changed into scheduled to start receiving the Android eight.0 Oreo improve. That rollout has already been driven back to next Thursday. Android 8.0 changed into launched and made available to producers in August of 2017, nearly a complete 12 months ago now (and that’s to mention not anything of the newer Android eight.1 update that followed closing December).


[ Take this mobile device management course from PluralSight and learn how to secure devices in your company without degrading the user experience. ] If the modern-day agenda stands, then it will have taken BlackBerry a whopping 319 days — 10 and 1/2 frickin’ months! — to get that important running machine to replace onto its flagship-stage, safety-minded, enterprise-friendly smartphone. And the update is not even set to reach KeyOne tool proprietors everywhere yet; it’s scheduled to start rolling out simplest in Canada as of this moment.

Now, the KeyOne has, by way of most counts, get well timed and normal protection patches — and that in reality counts for something. But 10 and a half months for a first-rate OS upgrade? No rely upon how you look at it; it is certainly inexcusable. And it is not a fluke, either: BlackBerry obtained zero% “F” grades on my Upgrade Report Card analyses for both Nougat in 2017 and Marshmallow the yr earlier than. (I failed to include the business enterprise in my Oreo Report Card this 12 months due to its diminished relevance within the Android surroundings, but relaxation assured: The overall performance we see now could have stored it’s zero% “F” streak going sturdy.)

OS updates offer foundational fixes and protection-orientated upgrades.

Why does this matter? Simple: Even in case you set apart the characteristic additions and interface improvements added with maximum major Android releases, operating gadget updates incorporate a great number of foundational fixes and safety-orientated upgrades — things like the tightened-down APIs (programming interfaces that allow apps to engage along with your device and statistics), strengthened backup data encryption, and emphasis on steerage apps towards comfy internet transmissions included in the upcoming Android P update.

Similar underneath-the-hood upgrades seemed in Oreo, inclusive of new restrictions on easily abused permissions, a greater thorough approach of verifying the working device’s integrity each time a phone boots, and a greater powerful device of sandboxing to maintain critical components of the software program remoted from other procedures. It’s precisely this form of progress that illustrates why OS updates nevertheless be counted, even in case you are not inquisitive about the flashier the front-going through stuff. No count how lots patching can be executed — and no matter how a whole lot Google deconstructs Android so that you can replace factors of the software program easily, frequently, and in a standard manner — sure foundational factors tied to performance, security, and privateness may be addressed most effective in the OS itself.

BlackBerry’s commitment to offering well-timed protection patches and its process of adding its personal security enhancements into the software both deserve the reward — no question there. But the business enterprise’s lackluster attempt at maintaining its devices even semi-reasonable up to date with Android OS releases deserves an equal amount of interest. That’d be real for any business enterprise selling a several-hundred-dollar phone. Still, it’s genuine for an enterprise that stakes its popularity on safety and serving the enterprise community. Sign up for JR’s weekly e-newsletter to get extra practical hints, personal guidelines, and a plain-English attitude to the news that matters.

Geneva A. Crawford
Twitter nerd. Coffee junkie. Prone to fits of apathy. Professional beer geek. Spent several years buying and selling magma in Miami, FL. Spent a year lecturing about psoriasis in Las Vegas, NV. Managed a small team writing about circus clowns in Las Vegas, NV. Garnered an industry award while writing about lint in the financial sector. Spoke at an international conference about getting my feet wet with dust in Libya. Spoke at an international conference about researching rocking horses in Bethesda, MD.