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System updates in smartphones – what are they for and why should they be installed? We explain the topic from the lining

System updates in smartphones - what are they for and why should they be installed?  We explain the topic from the liningSome say that classic phones were easier to use than today’s smartphones. Well, in fact, performing many basic activities on it, such as writing SMS messages, requires many clicks and browsing through the various menus (do you still remember the division into Inbox and Sent?). However, the fact is that they did not impose knowledge of many functions and services – the device was simply turned on and the user did not have to worry about anything. It’s a lot different from the new smartphones. They often require an internet connection and login to many services, apps are constantly asking for access to something, and as if that wasn’t enough, we’re drowning in information about updates from time to time. So how do you get a comment and do you have to respond to this type of notification at all?

Author: Piotr Piwowarczyk

It is undeniable that today the smartphone plays the role of a laptop, which is powered by a highly advanced operating system. We use it to make calls, receive messages, handle emails, surf the Internet, video conferencing, or download various files. So, if we want to protect our home computer with an antivirus or even a basic system firewall, why not worry about this issue in the case of a smartphone? I think this is where we should start this topic. While not everyone should care about the latest features that Android or iOS has to offer, it would be nice to give the system some sense of security, right?

Today, a smartphone acts as a laptop, powered by a highly advanced operating system. So, if we want to protect our home computer with an antivirus or even a system firewall, why not worry about basic security updates?

System updates in smartphones - what are they for and why should they be installed?  We explain the topic from the lining [1]

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1. Security

We store a lot of our data on smartphones. In the event of insufficient security, all documents, important login data or ordinary personal data may fall into the hands of unauthorized persons. This protection is guaranteed to a large extent by modern software, whose producers are constantly reacting to new threats in cyberspace. The new operating system is not only a higher number and an updated interface design – the software with the latest security patches guarantees us to the maximum possible that the smartphone is resistant to numerous hacker attacks.

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System updates in smartphones - what are they for and why should they be installed?  We explain the topic from the lining [2]

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Someone may now ask the question: “If the new system is so secure, why are antivirus applications created?”. Well, with mobile systems it is similar to desktop systems. For example, Windows has built-in security measures to protect against viruses and malware. It can be said that they are quite enough for the average computer user (as long as they are not used to downloading suspicious files and know how to protect their data). It’s the same with Android or iOS – as long as we only use tried-and-true software and don’t do anything unusual with the smartphone, we don’t have to worry about an attack or a leak of sensitive data. Therefore, antivirus programs are for those who simply need greater protection against various threats and generally greater support in this regard. Remember, however, that the best protection is often our minds. It is usually enough to be careful and a simple resistance to install unknown programs from unreliable sources.

2. Performance improvements and new features

New Android or iOS is always fun for users. Usually the latest version of the system does not turn everything upside down, but just updating the interface, adding some practical functions and tools, or improving the overall performance are very important advantages. These types of novelties often give a feeling of being connected to a brand new device, while at the same time they can improve on something that hasn’t worked well so far. However, you should know that such big updates don’t happen very often. While iPhone owners can count on a new version of iOS every year, Android smartphone owners are probably already accustomed to the fact that the number of updates is not very large. From what comes?

System updates in smartphones - what are they for and why should they be installed?  We explain the topic from the lining [3]

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The list of supported iPhones is pretty short, as it only includes devices from the past few years, and Apple releases a maximum of four models annually (or five, if we also count iPhone SEs). With Android, it is more complicated, because the list of manufacturers of these smartphones is constantly growing, and each of them offers many different models. Moreover, almost every company also has its own Android overlay, which requires adapting to each new version of the system. Therefore, preparing a major update for each device is time-consuming for the manufacturer. However, it gets better over time. For example, Samsung recently announced that it will introduce up to four new versions of the system for select models. A detailed list of individual manufacturers can be found on the next page of the article.

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3. Application compatibility

The last point is perhaps the least important, but it may be important for people who use or intend to use a fairly old device, for example, I got it out of the drawer after several years of non-use. If it is not possible to update it, the user will not only be sufficiently protected from Internet threats, but may also have problems using the most popular applications. Each program requires a specific version of the system to function, such as Android 9 or iOS 12. This may mean that the old smartphone we used in an emergency (eg after flooding the current one) will not fully work.

System updates in smartphones - what are they for and why should they be installed?  We explain the topic from the lining [4]

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How is the smartphone updated?

In general, it should automatically scan for each new version of the operating system or minor security patch. The user then receives a notification and may or may not decide to download and install right away. If the smartphone does not give a sign of new software versions for a long time, then sometimes it is useful to enter the appropriate setting yourself and manually search for the update. This update method is standard today and is called OTA or On The Air – everything happens completely wirelessly.

System updates in smartphones - what are they for and why should they be installed?  We explain the topic from the lining [5]

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The update process is shown below for three different smartphones: iPhone 7 Plus, Samsung Galaxy S10e, and OnePlus 8T. The whole thing is just a few clicks (options should be found in the System menu or Device information), and the system update takes from a few minutes to several minutes. Regardless of whether we are talking about installing a new version of Android or iOS, updating any relatively recent device looks very similar and involves turning off the smartphone automatically.

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System updates in smartphones - what are they for and why should they be installed?  We explain the topic from the lining [6]

System update based on iPhone 7 Plus smartphone (Click to enlarge)

System updates in smartphones - what are they for and why should they be installed?  We explain the topic from the lining [7]

System update on the example of the Samsung Galaxy S10e smartphone (click to enlarge)

System updates in smartphones - what are they for and why should they be installed?  We explain the topic from the lining [8]

System update on the example of the OnePlus 8T smartphone (click to enlarge)

It is worth knowing that OTA is not the only way to update the system. Those who want to download special applications from manufacturers (for example, iTunes from Apple or Kies from Samsung) to a computer, and then, after connecting a smartphone to a computer via a USB cable, can search for available software versions. So everything happens “on the cable” after that. However, this solution – you will admit – is not very convenient and is used sporadically in general. The reason may be that the smartphone is not checking for the expected OTA update, lack of access to the mobile Internet or the desire to install an unusual version of the system (such as a custom ROM). It should be noted that downloading an unofficial system is a simple way to void the device warranty. Another thing is when we replace the branded Android (that is, installed by the network operator) with the official version from the manufacturer – this process is completely “legal”.

System updates in smartphones - what are they for and why should they be installed?  We explain the topic from the lining [9]

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Practically speaking, updating a smartphone is a child’s play, and the whole process is automated enough that you don’t even bother with it. However, it must be borne in mind that in strictly defined situations, not everything goes according to plan. More than once there have been cases when the update failed or led the smartphone to a worse state than before (and this is the fault of the manufacturer itself). So it’s worth remembering to have a backup on hand before updating and take care of a sufficiently charged battery. In most cases, it is possible to roll back to the previous version of the system if necessary, and there are several ways to install the previous stable version. However, a lot depends on the smartphone model or bootloader.

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