LG is beginning to face some serious scrutiny after reportedly failing to increase the frequency of its smartphone software updates in spite of launching a new Global Software Upgrade Center back in April. That's primarily because it has, in fact, been more than 102 days since the official launch of Android 9 Pie and the Korea-based tech firm has been eerily quiet about an update schedule for most of its latest handsets. Moreover, it launched a brand new device – the LG V40 ThinQ – no fewer than 74 days after the update was made public but did not include the new OS to its top-of-the-line flagship. Worse but perhaps forgivable given the timeline of its new update center's launch, older handsets such as the LG G6 and LG G5 saw updates to Oreo that took even longer. The former of those went more than nine months before seeing Android 8.0 Oreo, while the older handset went more than thirteen.
Background: For clarity, Global Software Upgrade Center, as its name might suggest, was announced under the pretense that it would bring an end to LG's somewhat notorious track record of providing updates in a slow manner. According to LG, the purpose of the center was to meet a goal to provide "faster, timelier, smartphone operating system and software updates" for its consumers. That includes not only the delivery of updates on an accelerated timescale but also encompasses deeper testing for bugs and other negative update impacts on user experience that might ordinarily be missed during traditional testing, the company touted. Software bugs on LG devices have ranged from some less serious instances where small or novelty features would inadvertently crash to problems with core functionalities. The company's recently launched update-focused offshoot, located in its new research and development (R&D) campus in Magok-dong, western Seoul, was supposed to fix that.
However, while that really doesn't appear to have borne through to fruition, LG doesn't stand alone on that front either. Mobile OEMs have historically provided very few or relatively old updates to their smartphones and even the current global leader, Samsung, has only started changing its ways in the last several years. With that said, LG does have a public beta of the software available and for testing, implying that it won't be too much longer before that launches – even if it will have been more than 100 days late should it land at the beginning of next year. Conversely, Sony already has an Android 9 Pie schedule laid out, with six handsets being planned for the update by the end of November. Huawei and HTC have publicly laid out similar plans.
Impact: A similar problem has been seen in terms of Android security patches. That eventually forced Google's hand in terms of the policies it sets for manufacturers to follow on that front. In summary, the agreements ensure that bugs and vulnerabilities on devices that are activated more than a set number of times need to be fixed within 90 days of their discovery. Although it's understandable that an OEM would need time to fix and test the interaction between its own UI overlay and system tweaks and vanilla Android OS, those manufacturers are also generally given time in advance of announcement to begin that process. Security updates are undeniably more urgent than new firmware but Google may eventually need to implement similar policies for updates to both slow the rate of fragmentation across Android and help get users what they want. In the meantime, almost every OEM seems to be guilty to some degree. LG and its highly-publicized Global Software Upgrade Center just happen to be, for the moment, a shining example of why such an action might be required.