Pixel 6/6 Pro: New History of System Updates, so often they came on time, late or not at all

Google launched the Pixel 6 smartphones nine months ago and has of course provided frequent updates since then, which plug security gaps but also bring new functions. However, the reliability of the updates was not really high in the first six months, so this point quickly became the biggest weak point. In our updated chronicle, however, we can show you that the problems have been completely overcome.

Google is one of the largest software companies in the world and reaches several billion people with its own products. Software is the company’s great strength, setting new standards in both security and speed – and that’s no exaggeration. Hardware, on the other hand, is more of a means to an end for Google. Even though this is now a large business area, the main task of the products is to advance the platforms and software.

With the Pixel 6 smartphones, Google has launched two very strong devices that, looking back, may one day be classified as one of the most important Pixel generations. The line has come of age after six generations and has finally been able to achieve what the company has been working towards since the Nexus days. Top hardware, top equipment and even the Tensor processor can keep up with the competition in the first generation and don’t cause any problems right away. Indirectly yes.

And then it was the software of all things that completely misrepresented these great smartphones and upset buyers. Google seemed to have massive difficulties or have severely reduced testing capacities and quality control. The latter is unlikely, but wasn’t the first foreseeable when developing your own processor platform?

Never before has a new Google product seen as many update issues, postponements, emergency stops and deteriorating improvements as the Pixel 6 smartphones. All Pixel smartphones had teething problems, but they were often due to mismatches between hardware and software. They were there from the start and were not only brought to the devices with the update. Just take a look at the following brief history of Pixel 6 smartphone software updates.

  • November 3, 2021: The first update for the new generation should already be a harbinger of what you have to be prepared for in the coming months. Originally they wanted to publish it at the end of October and offer smartphone users an early update. But nothing came of it and in fact it came a few days later.
  • Mid-November 2021: Performance issues with the fingerprint sensor became apparent and wireless charging is significantly slower than advertised. For this reason there is another update, but it only improves the sensor performance a little.
  • December 13, 2021: This month the drama started. The update came a week later and didn’t have all the pieces of the feature drop on board. Just a few hours after the update, there were first reports of reception problems that were to spread widely over the next few days. The rollout will be stopped within two days.
  • Mid-December 2021: Google confirms the problems but does not have a fix yet.
  • December 30, 2021: After Christmas, Google announces the stop of the December update (which was two weeks ago at this point) and promises a fix for the reception problems in January.
  • January 2022: The December update will be completely withdrawn and deleted from the servers. Pixel 6 users have been waiting for a security update since mid-November
  • January 6, 2022: Google announces that the rollout of the January update for the Pixel smartphones will be postponed by two weeks. At the end of this phase, many Pixel 6 users were on an old security update for a good eight weeks.
  • January 14, 2022: The update is finally here, fixes the reception problems and some other bugs.
  • February 7, 2022: The update arrives on time and without any problems. Pixel 6 users hope to have finally overcome the initial difficulties. There have been reports of bumpy Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, but they don’t seem to be widespread.
  • February 16, 2022: There is another February update, with which one apparently submits a fix that did not make it into the rollout at the beginning of February.
  • March 7, 2022: Google releases a huge update wave: security update, feature update, feature drop and Android 12L. None of this is arriving on the Pixel 6 smartphones in early March.
  • March 17, 2022: Google releases the first Android 13 preview for all Pixel phones, including the Pixel 6.
  • March 21, 2022: After the launch of Android 13 DP1, Google released Android 12L for the Pixel 6 smartphones and caused problems. If you are already on Android 13 DP1, you cannot switch to Android 12L.
  • March 21, 2022: Google rolls out the March security update, feature update and feature drop for the Pixel 6 smartphones.
  • April 4, 2022: The security update will be released for all Pixel smartphones and will also be rolled out on Pixel 6 on time.
  • April 2022: Pixel 6 phones are up to date, but the Dirty Pipe vulnerability (already patched by Google in the Android project) will not be patched on Pixel 6 phones for the entire month. Except for the beta channel.
  • May 2, 2022: The update for the month of May will be rolled out on time and at the same time as all other Pixel smartphones. The updates are manageable, but the urgent dirty pipe vulnerability is finally closed.
  • June 6, 2022: The update came on time and was part of a large package that not only closed security gaps, but also included a separate pixel update and the pixel feature drop. All on time and as announced also from the start for the Pixel 6.
  • July 6th, 2022: The July update was delayed for two days for reasons not fully known, but this applied to all Pixel smartphones. Pixel 6 was supplied with all other devices at the same time and was even the only one to receive a functional update for VoLTE use.

Let’s note that in the first half there were only three updates that came on time and with a blind eye without any problems: February, April and May. In all three cases, there were only minor updates with a rather manageable scope of bug fixes and security gaps. That’s why you could still be pessimistic in April, but the updates that were rolled out on time (and completely) in the following months can finally make you completely optimistic. It is now no longer to be expected that there will be any particular problems with the updates.

Unfortunately, it is not possible to understand what Google’s developers have / had to nibble on and why they do not communicate the problems transparently. You will certainly not find out every month that you cannot make it on time, but follow a certain roadmap. Of course, bugs and gaps cannot be fully planned, but all other manufacturers and the pixel teams of generations 3 to 5 can do it too.

You got the curve just in time to set good signs for the upcoming Pixel 6a and Pixel 7 smartphones, which will also be equipped with Tensor. As soon as the majority of Pixel smartphones rely on Tensor, Google can put all its energy into this architecture.

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